Travel Articles – Try a Little Harder to Get it Right!

It really bugs me to find travel articles that have either serious or many errors. The newly-posted article “Taking the Long Road: Exploring Alaska’s Scenic Highways” by Jamie Ehrlich (at Frommers.com ) is full of errors – not serious ones but ones that could easily have been avoided. Here’s the list I compiled in a few minutes:

– “Alaska’s Seward Highway is generally a one-lane road…” – it’s mostly 2 lanes with lots of 4-lane sections. One-lane roads are what runs into small mines.

– “While the highway’s southernmost point, the town of Seward, lies due south of Anchorage, the road winds its way down to the Kenai Peninsula.” – I don’t know what the writer is trying to say there.

– “The highway was surrounded by the Chugach Mountains and alpine meadows…” – the Chugach Mountains are on one side, not surrounding the highway, and the meadows are a long way above the highway along that section of it. Alpine meadows do surround the highway at Turnagain Pass, though.

– “…each side of the road became filled with purple wildflowers…” – any Alaskan could have told her about fireweed.

– “Seward and Resurrection Bay were flanked by mountains on all sides, with glacial islands and fjords appearing in the distance.” – I don’t know what a glacial island is, but Resurrection Bay is a glacial fjord so you don’t have to look far.

– “…the Seward Highway is also known for the many Dall sheep that congregate up in the mountains…” – it’s mostly known for the Dall sheep that congregate right beside the highway along Turnagain Arm.

– “The trip from Anchorage to Fairbanks takes nearly 6 hours…” – it’s about 360 miles on the George Parks Highway, much of it in traffic, so you figure it out. You’d be hard-pressed to do it in even 7 hours.

– “…passing by strip malls in Anchorage’s northern suburb of the Matsuhana Valley…” – you cross the coastal end of the Matanuska Valley, but the strip malls start in the community of Wasilla, where residents hate being called an Anchorage suburb.

– “I rounded past the town of Willow and caught my first glimpse of Mount McKinley, which dominated the view even though it was still 200 miles away…” – it’s “only” 100 miles from the first views at Kashwitna Lake, and Alaskans call the mountain Denali.

– “Surprisingly, the terrain became almost desert-like, carved along sand-colored stone mountains and through open, dusty land. While driving through an isolated stretch, with treeless plains and nothing but a decaying gas station in the distance, I felt like I was in the American Southwest, not Alaska.” – she’s apparently mixed up notes from a trip somewhere else. That’s the most bizarre description of Broad Pass I’ve ever heard.

– “While on the last leg of the trip, keep your eye out for the small river enclave of Nanana…” – you drive through Nenana (note the spelling) so if your eyes are open you won’t miss it! It’s a major shipping point for the barges that serve the no-road-access communities along the Tanana and Yukon Rivers.

– “The easy highlight of the trip came last, as the Parks Highway approached Fairbanks. The road was at a peak, and seemed suspended above the wide expanse of the Chena Valley,…” – the highway uses a high undulating ridge to stay out of the muskeg bogs down in the Tanana Valley – there is no peak, and compared to the Nenana Gorge section of the highway in particular is rather boring.

– “From the glaciers along the Gulf coast, to Denali’s vibrant wildlife, to the old abandoned gold-panning dregs around Fairbanks…” – I assume she means the glaciers along the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re “gold dredges“.

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