My Aunt Barbara took a photo of a raven sitting on top of the Tok Thai Food establishment on her drive back from a visit to McCarthy, and I got her permission to make a painting based on her photo. According to a review on Yelp, Tok Thai Food has the best Panang Curry in Alaska. I’m going to get some on my way back from McCarthy next time. This roadside restaurant is an enigma, and I don’t know much about it. All I could find online were the menu and a bunch of positive reviews. The official website’s title page calls it Tok Tdai Food. I have always had a good meal there, but is it really “t’die” for? So, why is Tok Thai Food in Glennallen, and not in Tok? The questions keep on rolling. Why is the best food in Glennallen, Thai food? Why is the best Thai food in Alaska located in Glennallen? Who owns this place? Who is making this delicious food?
What I do know is that I love stopping at this crossroad on my way back from McCarthy, and taking a minute, or 20 to get out of the truck, get some gas, and have fresh food. Making a stir fry from old cabbage, a spotty squash, and some canned chicken at the cabin in McCarthy may fill my belly, but it is far from what you get at Tok Thai Food. I think it’s the location that makes it so special. Strategically located at the T, where the Glenn Highway meets the Richardson. If you are going to Chitina to dipnet, or want to go to Valdez, you drive right past it. If you want to go to Tok, Whitehorse, Haines or Seattle, you will also drive right past it. It is four hours from Anchorage, and four hours from the Canadian border, perfectly located for lunch.
I painted this iconic sign because it represents returning to civilization. After a month in the Wrangell Mountains, a hot meal is welcome. The Radio Shack sign in Glennallen advertising hot pizza is alluring, but they don’t actually have hot pizza, or at least not when I have been there. The Freeze has long since closed its doors. The IGA may have some sandwiches and deli snacks, but it is far from excellent. The raven in this painting symbolizes wilderness to me, and the bright yellow manufactured plastic sign, humanity. After washing hands in the gas station, and getting a crispy fried egg-roll, it feels good to know, that yes, they do sell auto parts within the Glennallen city limits. This painting is about the balance of going to the wilderness to reduce stress by leaving the trappings of the city behind, while in the wilderness there is a different kind of stress of knowing you only have what you brought with you. It is good to change it up, find the ataraxia (Greek for balance), remind yourself what is important in your life, and you will find your inner peace.
The original oil painting on canvas will be on display, and available for sale at my art show at Dos Manos Gallery in June and July. The art opening reception will take place on First Friday, June 3, 5-8pm. I will also have some prints available.