Alaska Warnings Or Dangers Tips by PA2AKgirl Top 5 Page for this destination
Alaska Warnings and Dangers: 79 reviews and 69 photos
If you're using the Alaska Marine Highway and want to get closest to Anchorage, you probably will get off at Whittier. Do not let this be a lasting impression of Alaska. Whittier. I don't even know what to say about it. It's been described by other VTers as "creepy" and I think that about sums it up.
It's technically connected by road to Anchorage but you have to use a toll tunnel to get through and when you emerge out to the Whittier side, you'll probably say, "why did I do this?"
The setting is pretty--a town on the water with ferry and road access should excel, but it doesn't. Everyone used to live in this one building, a communist looking highrise but after the earthquake, they had to leave it. So now, they live in another highrise and can't afford to knock the first one down. It sits atop a hill looming over the town, in all its creepiness. When we visited, it was gloomy and we saw practically nobody--giving it even more of an eerie feel. Businesses were closed down, some never to reopen in the summer. The few that will open still offer you with little to do in this place.
For more information, go to Bobby's Whittier Page. He does a great job showing you this town.
and that's in a city, on sale!
I mentioned this on my Anchorage page, but it’s worth repeating. If you live in the lower 48 (US), maybe you’ve seen commercials that, in tiny letters, say “prices higher in Alaska and Hawaii” Are they ever! I can understand it out in the bush or in the towns that aren’t connected by roadway but here? It’s a major city, has roads in from Canada and eventually the states, airports with major cargo deliveries and the resources to obtain anything. But certain things are outrageous. Milk, which locally produced from the farms in the valley has an exorbitant price on it. Gas is expensive, eating out costs about 25% more than what it does at the same restaurant in the lower 48. It’s frustrating. I realize Alaska is separated and not easy to get to, but no doubt, people are making a killing by raising prices and attributing it the location. Anyway, expect to pay a lot for everything. You’ll find those bargains if you look hard enough but you’ll also find that in some of the port towns, there are prices for Alaskans or locals and then prices for tourists.
heading into the bathroom
Don’t expect to find nice rest areas along the major roads. I guess considering the freezing temperatures and sewer system/permafrost issues, you’re lucky to have a place to go to the bathroom at all. Sometimes great distances are between gas stations with indoor restrooms but the roadside rests are plentiful. The ones with facilities are not. The ones that do have them are outhouses, though and privately maintained or not maintained. Pit toilets, that even in cold weather, smell pretty bad. These are usually found near state parks and often times, the ones labeled “wayside” are closed for the season if you’re not traveling in the summer. You should take on a more “backcountry camping” philosophy or at least prepare yourself in the event you have to hike a little to get the privacy of the trees. But, that’s Alaska and really, do you picture glorious roadside rests in this state? Probably not.
home of the unhappy customs lady
Taking the Alaska or Taylor highways to or from the Yukon Territory means unavoidable border crossing. Having crossed the US/Canada border numerous times in various locations, I knew what to expect so that in itself is not the reason for this warning. The process is standard. However, the lady for the Canada side of the border on the Alaska Highway was not. She was the most disgruntled government worker I’ve ever come across. Mean, mean, mean. She first asked us where we were from—expected question. Bobby said Alaska. She turned away, turned back at us and rolled her eyes. With an exaggerated sigh and then a scoff (completely unnecessary), she said, “Okay, I’m not blind so let’s try again.” We said Anchorage, this time. She rolled her eyes again. She asked where we were going and how long we’d be gone. At that point we didn’t know so we just said a couple days. She didn’t like that answer at all and slammed down her hand onto the table inside. Then she pointed at something in the back seat and said, “What is that back there?” Naturally, we had to look because we didn’t know what she was pointing at specifically. So, we turned. Lifting up our coats, we named off what we had (which wasn’t much). After we finished, she started raising her voice at us, saying, “Okay. I’m not back there. How about you turn to me and tell me again so I can actually understand you?” We went through the list of 5 items again. Her attitude was horrible and we were crestfallen; she was so mean to us. She threw our passports back at us and told us to go. Our moods were again elevated by the time we reached the first town and everyone else from the Yukon was so nice to us. It was just her. I can understand being cranky if she had a busy border crossing, but judging from the traffic and the wait, only 10 other vehicles—personal and commercial—could have crossed that day. The roads were empty.
On the return trip, the same questions were asked at the US border, but the lady was very nice.
think there's a phone tower out there?
Cell phone service is unreliable. I have Verizon and when I first came to Alaska in 2003, I was promised it would work. It did not. From Sitka, I called on a land line and was told, “well, if you go to Anchorage, you can use it.” Hundreds of miles away from where I was living. When I finally got up to Anchorage, it didn’t work there either. I had to call again and have them adjust some setting to allow for a cooperative tower agreement. What really got me was that other people with the same wireless carrier could make calls so it’s not about which company you have a plan with. Bobby has a local provider and our service was great in certain areas (like in the middle of Denali) and then not available near towns, so it’s not even about that, either. WiFi seems more common than cell service. Find out about your coverage and charges if you have a cell phone and want to use it here. Otherwise, have a back up plan in the event you need to call a tow truck or have another kind of emergency.
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