38 furrowed in a way that’s seen on the face of folks who’ve worked hard and come by things rough all their life; she shines her eyes at us. They were tired but shining. Her hair looked so pretty in her updo.
CIRQUE hundreds of pictures along the way and when we arrive late we’re treated to a cabin in the woods and a camp shower by the roaring river. She’s not able to take Visa and just shrugs come payment time.
By the looks of her little store, we were the only ones who’d been in for hours.
Happens all the time. She assures me. Just stop back at BJs and leave some cash in an envelope if you want. I’ll pick it up on my next trip in. Or mail me a check when you get back home. Either way.
I wanted to stay all day. I wanted to drink a Tab and even though I quit years ago, I wanted to crack a pack of Slims and sit down with her, just our jelly jars of soda with the ice clinking and an ashtray between us while we start up a game of Yahtzee and sit and visit the afternoon away at her little table behind the counter.
And she hands me a loaf of warm homemade cranberry bread. I’m in rugged heaven and we become fast friends with her and her dog, and enjoy her tour of the little storage shed turned gift shop filled with handmade items. I just keep some here so customers can shop and then of course BJ lets me put some up at the store too.
Instead I browse the shelves of Alaskana and make small talk.
That’s really how it is here in this place we call home.
My dangerous husband perused her display of pamphlets. “We’re thinking of going to the mine” he tells her. So that’s where we’re going on Danger Day. It’s pretty late in the day. You could go halfway in and stay the night with my friend Kay up the road. She’s got a great little B and B. Cabins at the halfway point. I’ll call her and make sure she’s got one open.
I find steaming hot coffee in a thermos on the porch when we wake in the morning and I hug her as we leave, promising to stay in touch. Then we venture forth, my husband and I, him having claimed a second day now for a Danger Day, and me being just fine with that, well rested, heart full, and loving to see him so relaxed and at ease because we’re not on any set schedule.
She pulls out a paper and starts dialing her phone that’s on the wall behind her counter.
Danger Day 2 is spent exploring the mine, dangerously not taking the tour. We venture on our own, enjoying the old quiet of a place steeped in stories and history and age. It’s just enough to explore and find a bit of copper before starting the long trek back.
We keep browsing and she keeps talking and it’s quiet here and her Alaskana is so Alaskan and don’t the most peaceful moments happen when you don’t plan them?
By dinner time we find ourselves back at BJs. Danger Day 2 is wrapping up. We need to be back on the meandering path to home.
She hangs up and it’s all set. We have reservations if we want them. If my tour guide gets really dangerous and we take another route and sleep in the car, fine. But if not, her friend will be looking for us later tonight and if we want it, we’ve got a place to rest. If we do come in, just stop at the main house before we go back to the cabin and her friend said she’ll send some bread with us for a snack and isn’t that the Alaskan way?
But I want to leave money for our stay at Kay’s cabin and tell BJ how right she was. That her friend’s place really is a slice of Alaska heaven. Tell her thank you for sending us. Get another Diet Coke for the last long stretch of the day.
Everywhere, a friend. Full up on danger for the day we mosey in slow and take
My husband finds us a Klondike bar and as he looks around, I visit with BJ and I suddenly have an urge to buy something from this woman who makes me feel like I’m eight again in footie jams, but who also makes me feel like a grown woman…a mother and an auntie and a proof, a womanly proof that we are all connected no matter where we live or what our job is or what our path in life looked
A Journal for the North Pacific Rim