Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Things to Do in Denver Whittier When You're Dead

(above - the only apartment building in Whittier - click on any photo for an enlargement. Of the photo. You have a dirty mind.)

Whittier, Whittier.

What can you say about Whittier?

I'll start with the bumper sticker, "Whittier: A quaint drinking village with a fishing problem."

(above - proof of fishing village status)

Then the comments:

"What'd you do this weekend, John?"
"Went to Whittier."
"Did you see the Wh-idiots?"

That may sum it up.

Whittier is a former army supply base. Whittier has some advantages for this - it's a deep water port that's ice-free year round, and is a major supply location for Anchorage. Ships dock regularly and drop off stuff that gets on a train and goes to Anchorage.

All that may be nice, but you have to be just a bit off to live here. Really. Right now, everyone lives in the old Army barracks - essentially in one building. All 172 of them. I did see one address that showed a PO box number above five hundred . . . but I figure the first digit is the floor of the old army barracks that they live in, so if your PO box number were 788, you'd live in room 88 on floor 7.

All of the rooms are condos, so, the bright spot is that there is someplace in Alaska that condos make sense. Which would be one location. Whittier.

I asked what the winters were like - the answer was that winters in Whittier are hellish, but the special kind of frozen hell reserved for people from the tropics who did something really, really bad.

Folks in Whittier live with constant wind, and in the winter it gets up to 100mph shooting up the fjord that they live in. Add that to a temperature of -29F, plus the town getting no direct sunlight (no, not above the Arctic Circle, just high mountains surround the place) from November to February. Then, add in 25 feet of average snowfall, plus being within a hundred miles or so of the fault that has produced the largest earthquake ever recorded, and you see what I mean about having to be off to live there. Whittier is the edge of the world.

(above - more of Whittier - the long white building is where they used to practice Army stuff, but is now essentially abandoned, except for some killer freeze-tag games)

We were there in mid-September, and the touristy businesses were mostly closed. Whittier is shutting down for the winter (and, it snowed up in Fairbanks last week, so, winter is getting closer).

(above - the harbor at Whittier - beautiful, but, it's in Whittier)

As if all of the above weren't enough, Whittier is also hard to get out of. The Mrs., The Boy, The New Boy and I did most things that a tourist can do in Whittier without a boat, and decided it was time to go back toward Anchorage. We drove back to the tunnel. It was 1:04 PM. The big lighted sign above the tunnel said, "NEXT TRAFFIC RELEASE 2:00 PM." So, we went back toward the same six open stores, kicked around, took a few more photos, and generally sat in the car until 1:45. I was not going to be late and become stuck in Whittier for however much longer until the next traffic release - I was going to be there early. I mean, the lady in the shop that sold Fudge had been nice (but we were not going to stop at the store that sold ice cream and bait) but we were ready to leave Whittier by now.

(above - the old fuel depot at Whittier, with a looming glacier in the background, just sitting there looming)

So, back through the tunnel we went. A fairly large noise was evident when we went through, and The Boy said, "Monsters!"

I explained that those were actually ventilation fans - "air fans" I called them, and he asked why they had "Hair fans."

I explained that those weren't hair fans, they were air fans.

He paused a minute. "Then what are hair fans?"

Sometimes my life is an Abbot and Costello routine.

Next: Proof that the President of Taiwan is Stalking Me


Blogger the Witch said...

Yeagh John, what are hair fans?

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the grey building was the Army barracks and the yellow was the new apartments where the town lives. The kids go through a tunnel to school. All grades in one school, probably the same room. Should have gone to the touristy glacier cruise. Cool, but probably too late in the season now.

3:42 PM  
Blogger the Witch said...

All grades in one school? But then where do they store all of the student's hair fans?

4:49 PM  
Blogger John said...

oooohhhh . . . you've been there. Now you're rubbing it in . . .

Yeah, the new apartments, though were old army barracks. The kids do tunnel to school, all 35 or so of them.

the other word invented by The Boy is slutch. He misheard "clutch" and does THE SAME THING with slutch. So, we have slutches and hair fans at our house.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chen Shui-Bian here.

You buy Floo Bee for hair and help my economy!
Buy FlooBee now!
Buy Factory Direct!

Floo Bee
Floo Bee
Floo Bee
Floo Bee
Floo Bee

7:37 PM  
Blogger John said...

A hair fan!!!
(I shudder)
I HATE serendipity!!!

7:45 PM  
Blogger John said...

That MUST have been you . . .

7:46 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

Looks like Chen Shui-Bian is also waiting for the story about the President of Taiwan. Come on, quit stalling. This'd better be good. But, no pressure :)

7:50 PM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

No no no. No way would I be the Floo Bee guy. Sheesh...

7:51 PM  
Blogger John said...

ahhh, woof, my canine brother,
You need to come collect your beer. I've got the story written . . . come Wednesday . . . .

7:52 PM  
Blogger the Witch said...

The President of Taiwan has the students'floo-bees? I don't get it - never heard of slutch a thing.

Sorry - couldn't resist. Don't think of it as rubbing it in, think of it a precious nostalgia, as my boy in now 15 years old. I got "cantanister" (marriage of container & canister) last year but otherwise, that well done dried up. Miss this stuff...

5:34 AM  
Blogger Carl Oberg said...

Ahh, now that's the Whittier I remember. Actually, when I was there ('99) the road was not finished yet. Your only option was the train and it appeared to me that the train was too much of a bother for the locals.

That place needs to be studied.

And BTW, your pictures do Whittier very well. Or rather too well. At ground level its a bit more ... industrial. Or perhaps its changed?

5:56 AM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...

I think I'll plan a vacation to Whittier.

7:53 AM  
Blogger John said...

I'm sure I'm in for a million more of these . . . ahh, the joys of teaching the English language.

Yeah, pretty industrial, but they're working to change that . . .

Maybe hellish, but still better than Omaha.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Duck Hunter said...


there is a story on CNN this afternoon about an ad campaign getting people to visit Alaska. One person in the report says a lot of people say they have Alaska on their list of places to see before they die. I guess they have never heard of Whittier.

8:49 AM  

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