You recall my saying we were too early? Too early for bears? Too early for salmon? Well, it seems we were too early for humans, too. Whittier seems to have had virtually no inkling we were coming! We are, altogether now… too early. We are the first ship of the year to come here and they are not ready. The new hotel, restaurant and bar apparently doesn’t open for another week, so there is still only one pub in town, oddly at the top of several flights of stairs. No idea why. The drinks aren’t cheap, but they are quite strong, so a little goes quite a long way. Monica and I set out for said Only Bar In Town: the Anchor Inn. It’s only half a mile or so, but we thumbed a lift from a passing stranger called Ron, who happily dropped us so close to the door, he nearly hit it. There are two, maybe four, roads in Whittier, so it wasn’t a long drive.
After duly schlepping up THREE flights of stairs, we found a small, empty bar, with three pool tables, a dart board with one dart, a small dance floor and sound system and those annoying lasers that look like a cloud of mosquitoes have landed on you, shiny dark green vinyl diner banquettes that were surprisingly comfortable and the World’s Loudest Jukebox, although, thankfully, someone made them turn it down from 11. Signing the walls is obviously an Alaska thing, because they’ve done it here too, although when I asked, the barmaid said her boss had called a halt to it. Lack of room, probably.
There were only half a dozen locals and half a dozen of us, but over the next hour and a half, a steady stream arrived from the ship, including a lot of crew, so that, by the time we called it quits at 23:30 and started the walk back, the place was heaving. Our plan had been to try the other bar, in the hotel near the ship, but on finding out this wasn’t open, we just called it a night.
I needn’t have taken a coat. It stayed tied firmly around my waist. It’s not cold and there was absolutely no wind whatsoever. It was a lovely stroll back, dusk was setting in and by the time we got halfway back (as close as you can get and get the whole ship in shot)(in fact, it’s easier to get the whole of Whittier in one shot than it is to get the whole ship!), it was definitely twilight. I took some very pretty photos of the ship.
It was dark at about half midnight, but the Anchor Inn stays open as long as there are people, so that one barmaid has a hell of a night ahead of her!
There was a solitary police truck rolling back and forth between the ship and the pub, offering people lifts, so that the policeman didn’t have to worry about bear attacks. There have been black bears in town during the day this week, and he was apparently quite worried. I may see one yet.
Whittier is an odd little town. It has less than 300 residents and they all live in one block of flats. I kid you not. Apparently, it makes for only one path to clear when the snow comes. All 300 inches a year of it. The post office, police, fire and ambulance are all in the same building. This is it.
Excitingly, they have no sales tax and, according to the map, precisely four shops to spend in. I only hope the coach companies hear we’ve arrived, and turn up in the morning, otherwise there is no way we’re going to Anchorage tomorrow. It’s an hour and a half each way as it is.