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Whittier Alaska – tunnel & snow by Ann Treacy
February 21, 2012, 2:25 am
Filed under: Alaska

On Saturday I did a quick walk in the morning to see the sunrise. It’s not like you have to wake up early for it – sunrise sort of started at 8 am. But it was nice to get out and see a little patch of the city. I think people thought I was a little crazy; it was 14 degrees and it’s very slippery. A few folks stopped to kindly ask if I needed a lift. (Anchorage will not be winning any plowing or shoveling awards any time soon – but then I guess I could see losing interest in upkeep. I read that they’ve had 7 feet of snow this winter!) (Nearly forgot to add that I included the shop sign for my Scrabble friends – Oomingmak: The Qiviut Shop.)

One of the best things about a totally surprise trip to someplace great like Alaska is that you don’t really over prepare – or have any preconceived notion of what it will be like. So on Saturday when Bill suggested we head south I must admit I didn’t really know where we were going. We were originally headed to Seward – but took a detour to Whittier.

Whittier is about 60 miles from Anchorage. It’s on the west side of the Prince Island Sound, which may sound familiar because the Valdez port is on the south end of the Sound. In 1989, it was the location of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Whittier is not really that close to Valdez (as in we weren’t tempted to make the extra drive) but it gives you an idea of the geography. One cool thing about Whittier is that you have to take a one-lane tunnel to drive there. So there’s a schedule sort of like a drawbridge. The tunnel is 2.5 miles long.

Also Whittier had more snow than I have ever seen in one place. There were piles of it – I didn’t do a great job of capturing it – but it seemed like there were 10-15 foot banks everywhere. And the snow was blue – glacial blue, I guess. Except for the snow – the town could have been in West Cork. There was a harbor – where we saw otters and maybe a seal. I took a picture – knowing from experience that it wouldn’t really turn out – but I’m including it. We stopped at a pub/hotel for a drink – and even once inside it seemed kind of strange to me that the bar staff didn’t have Irish accents. The total bonus was that I got carded! It was a really nice place – we were kicking ourselves that we hadn’t thought to check out of our other hotel before heading out.

The town was a little sleepy in February – and there was at least one big Scooby Doo-esque abandoned hotel/asylum-place – but you could see the potential for summer! (And we enjoyed it even in Feb.)

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