Two years ago I probably would not have gone out of my way to visit Wasilla. That was before Sarah Palin became a household name.
Home to 10,000 people, Wasilla ranks as the fourth-largest city in Alaska (behind Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, respectively). Wasilla is a suburb of Anchorage (40 miles to the west) and the George Parks Highway linking the two cities was the closest feeling to interstate traffic that I experienced during my visit to Alaska. How to describe the city? William Yardley of The New York Times summed up Wasilla in an article in this week: “Where development dead-ends and some of the most remote places in America begin.” I can’t top that.
Northbound travelers are treated to an elaborate welcome sign (above) situated on the bank of Wasilla Lake. (This is not the same lake that backs up to the Palin household; that is Lake Lucille, Wasilla’s other lake.) The metal sign pays homage to the city’s famous lakes; its design includes the reflection of the Chugach Mountains and a boater, in addition to other circular cutouts that do not represent anything obvious.
Southbound travelers are greeted in a typical Alaskan fashion – a wooden sign. Like the northbound sign, mountains and the local Rotary Club are highlighted. The City of Wasilla seal adds some interest to an otherwise lackluster sign.