It’s been a few days and we’re settling into life in Whittier. We’re staying in an apartment on the 12th floor of Begich Towers (BTI), so our view is phenomenal. Reed brought his big monitor to edit some other jobs, but it turns out that we don’t have much time to work in the apartment. We sneak some work in before the sun rises, which also affords us some pretty cool photos.
Whittier, the gateway to Prince William Sound, receives 1/3 of Alaska’s freight. A barge comes into port once a week. This week the barge was delayed a day because of weather. On the day it was supposed to arrive, winds were gusting at 60 mph, and with windchill it was 37 below.
It’s warming up a bit, so soon we’ll take our chances on exploring the Buckner Building.
Our first interview was with Brenda, who raises the two reindeer who live just outside of the building. Of course we did a portrait of her with the deer, but we also did a portrait in the studio where Brenda carves wood, sews leather, and makes jewelry, all to sell to the tourists that come here via cruise ship in the summer.
We had lunch at the Anchor Inn—the only restaurant open in wintertime—and ran into these hunters. “We’re going to a deer funeral,” they told us. They were waiting for the wind to die down so they could head to their hunting spot, which is accessible only by boat. The guy on the right didn’t have his jacket, because it was outside keeping his beer from freezing.
We checked out the room where the city holds all its council meetings, and the garage where they keep all the snow equipment. Usually Whittier gets around 300 inches of snow every winter, but last year they got 518 inches. You wouldn’t realize you were walking over the top of a minivan until you heard the metallic sound of the roof underfoot.
Much of the property in Whittier is owned by the Alaska Railroad Corporation.
We went by way of underground tunnel to visit Whittier’s K-12 school. In the basement the kids tend to a hydroponic vegetable garden. The police gave the school the garden supplies after they raided a grow room on the 10th floor of BTI.
On most US maps, Alaska lives in a little box floating in the ocean somewhere near Mexico. It can be confusing for kindergartners who’ve never left the state. Hence, “The World According to Alaska.”