Alaska is big. Very big.

Just to orient themselves, several folks have asked me where Wrangell is in relation to Anchorage, and the answer is about 700 miles to the southeast, as the crow flies. The vast majority of that distance is over the Gulf of Alaska, and there are no direct flights from Wrangell to Anchorage. Theoretically*, if I were to fly to Anchorage tomorrow, I’d take a jet plane (as opposed to a propeller plane – an important distinction around here) from Wrangell 150 miles north to Juneau. That would probably include a stopover in Petersburg, which is “the next town over” from Wrangell, on Mitkoff Island, and there’s a good chance that half of the plane’s cabin would be packed with cargo and mail. From Juneau, I would fly 575 miles northwest to Anchorage. For comparison, that’s about the same distance, leg for leg, as flying from Seattle to Portland, and then Portland to San Jose. If I were to take water/ground routes to get to Anchorage, I’d put my car on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Wrangell, sail 275 miles over 18 hours to Haines, which is just about as far north as one can get on this part of the ferry system. Then I’d drive from Haines back into Canada and join up with the famous Alaska “ALCAN” Highway, heading northwest first through the northern tip of British Columbia and then Yukon. Crossing back into the US, I’d wind through south central Alaska, first skirting the northern side of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, then southwest towards Anchorage. This route weighs in at 1,031 miles and an estimated 35 hours of sailing and driving. Again, for reference, that’d be like driving from Seattle, WA to Laramie, WY, or from San Jose, CA to Albuquerque, NM.

And the thing is, from where I sit in Wrangell, most of Alaska lies beyond Anchorage.

* In actuality, tomorrow’s flight to Anchorage come with a layover in….Seattle.

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