Authentic delight

Except for the lively conversation with the folks at Alaskan Fudge Co., Juneau failed to impress the day before.  And what if Skagway was more of the same?  Part of me dreaded knowing, but part of me had to find out.

Morning walk

Unlike our first shore excursion the day seemed warmer and more in keeping with my South Texas disposition.  We walked and walked and took lots of photos of a place so reminiscent of the Wild West that Skagway could’ve been a movie set.  The trains, the buildings, the openness.  Was the town even real?  No brick buildings, lots of windows.  How did folks stay warm in frigid temperatures?

Despite my pea brain’s many rhetorical questions, everything was quiet and peaceful compared to Juneau.  Streets were wide with little traffic, and residents carried on as if we visitors (or intruders) were part of the town’s finely woven tapestry.  No fuss, no rush, no sidewalk vendors.  We moved about freely in an alternate reality, oblivious of life back home, proactively engaged in the moment.

Steven’s third eye was busy making memories, so I contained myself on discovering familiarity: “Mexican food.  Fish tacos today.”  I wanted some right then, right there!  And I don’t even eat fish tacos!  Then, too, my whole being knew that tacos were just the tip of the iceberg.  Oh, the fascination!  I longed to learn more!

Soon after, I noticed a living-breathing advertisement in the form of a very pleasant woman wholly absorbed in the book she read outside Skaguay News Depot.  How daring!  How novel!  Is she the owner? I wondered.  How will she lure us into the store?  Scary thought, but so intriguing!  She didn’t even flinch as we passed her by.  She just kept reading.  What audacity!  Her wordless sales approach stunned, amused, and tantalized my curiosity.  We’d definitely stop on our way back!

As Steven made his way down Broadway, I window-shopped, took lots of photos, and continued to be amazed.  When Steven veered right onto a side street, I waited in place halfway down to where he explored the Historic Moore Homestead at the end of Spring.  Taking note of my surroundings— three totem poles; a shop owner chatting with a supplier; a workman restoring the Moore Homestead; small buildings that appeared closed; a couple of older-model vehicles parked nearby; and, except for the occasional pedestrian and/or vehicle on the main road, a satisfying stillness unlike any experienced before— I’d pretty much given up on finding a church to explore.












Church on Fifth Street

Making our way back on Broadway, I visually scoured every side street we crossed for the semblance of a sacred space.  Then, oh, my, gosh!  I spotted one!

“There’s a church down there!”

“Where?  I don’t see anything,” Steven said.

“It’s there!  About four or five blocks down!  Can we go take a look?  Maybe this one will be open!”

Oh, joy in the morning!  It was!  It was!  And we had a wonderful time looking, imagining Sunday services, partaking of the congregation’s peace and love.










Bookstore on Broadway Street

So, having fulfilled my desire to explore a church, we walked back into town.  And, on reaching the second block, I told Steven about the bookstore; crossed the street; and, soon enough, ventured in.

“You were quite a sight this morning!” I teased the book reader.

“Can you believe it?  I get paid to do what I love!” she chuckled.

Shortly, another woman joined us and, as she asked if we had something in mind, the book reader disappeared into the back room.  I asked about the children’s books in the window display, and she pointed us toward the many showcased brightly in the front right corner of the shop.

“Feel free to browse as long as you like, and let me know if you have any questions.”

We right away selected three books and asked if we could start placing them on the counter until we were ready to pay.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

We introduced ourselves and told Denise about our jaunt to the First Presbyterian Church, adding that we’d found the unexpected: an unlocked entryway!  And, when I told her about the cookbooks we’d seen at church, she enthused that she had copies of the original (1943/1998), in case we were interested.  We weren’t passing on that!  Denise sweetened the deal, too, by giving us bookmarks and offering a free copy of Gold Rush Cemetery if we purchased Garden City of Alaska.  But, of course!

So, our visit to Skaguay News Depot & Books was more than just a place to shop: Our time there was a worthwhile investment in being good neighbors; sharing observations; and learning lots about the church, the town, and Denise’s family roots in Alaska.

“I love this place!” I said before leaving.

“Well, you know what that means, don’t you?  You have to move here now.”

Dangle a carrot, why not?  I was there in a heartbeat!



Afternoon tour

After lunch, Mel, Sharon, Steven, and I headed out to take the White Pass & Yukon Route scenic journey.  As the train passed through town people waved because, we were told, they always do.  So, up, up, up we went… until we came back down.












Authentic delight

Docking in Skagway I prepared for another day of mental warfare with vendors: Go with the flow.  Make the most of the day because we may never pass this way again.  Then— surprise!— an unexpected outcome.

The town was quiet, unimposing, authentic.  Residents went about their business as visitors went about theirs, exactly as one would expect in one’s hometown.  But what really impressed me was the First Presbyterian Church on Fifth and Main Streets.

Who advertises “Doors Are Always Open!” on the stoop’s top step?  Who leaves items for the taking on a little round table with a pretty crocheted tablecloth?

Admiring the printed treasures beside the empty glass jar, Steven and I smiled at each other as momentary disbelief gave way to sheer delight.  These folks trust that others are kindred spirits!  So, taking the invitation to heart, I helped myself to two cookbooks, a baggie with six Centennial Celebration cards and envelopes, and a postcard, after which Steven placed money in the jar.  Simply amazing!

An authentic delight, Skagway captured our imagination, appealing to our insatiable love of learning, nature, adventure, and more.  Can’t wait to go again!

Links of interest…  First Presbyterian Church: about (map) / drawings / facebook / website…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook / NPR / podcast / premiere / youtube…  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals & archive / publications…  Skaguay News Depot: bookstore / news…  Skagway: about / CVB / facebook / Historic Moore Homestead: mapphotos / Mexican food / newspaper / Travel Alaska / website…  White Pass Railroad excursion & train tour (WPYR)…

WP posts…  Mission accomplished…  Naturally engaging…  Sweet treat…  Verbosity

Mission accomplished

After four days on the road, we boarded the Carnival Legend in Seattle, Washington and set off for an eight-day cruise to Alaska: the greatest adventure of our lifetime.


May eighth was cold, dreary, and wet in Juneau.  Steven had been to Alaska before, so he knew what to expect.  I layered my shirts, pulled my hood tightly to frame my face, and wore snug gloves.  Then off we went in search of what fascinates us: churches.







Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

We walked several blocks before we came to the first church, situated on the corner of Gold and Fifth Streets.  Doors were locked, so we admired the grounds.  I couldn’t believe that flowers could grow so beautifully in Alaska!





St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

Standing on the corner, I spotted the hexagonal, blue-and-white church.  Would it be open?  It wasn’t.  Was I disappointed?  A tad.  But it was Wednesday afternoon, so we explored the precious sacred space and imagined ourselves returning another day.  Then, on walking past, I peeked into the yard for no special reason and giggled.  Right there kissing-close to the fence was a pair of red shoes reminiscent of La Befana: The witch of Christmas and Glinda’s ruby slippers from the The Wizard of Oz.  My imagination conjured all sorts of possibilities!  What a priceless memory!




Mission accomplished

My toes felt like rocks; my hands, icicles.  We’d found the churches and taken the photos, so all I wanted was my reward: a bag of popcorn from down the street.

We took our time entering a couple of shops as we prepared ourselves for the obstacle course ahead and the siren calls from the relentless vendors standing in the doorways— some even on the sidewalks!— ready to lure folks into their shops.

We prevailed and made it to the Alaskan Fudge Co. to chat with the owner and his young helper.  How special to share real conversation, to hear their stories.

I was impressed with their genuineness, their humor, their welcoming spirit, their loyalty to each other, and their eagerness to be of service— traits I would observe among Alaskans in other places, too.  So, the takeaway from our mission accomplished in Juneau became the recurring theme of the greatest adventure of our lifetime.





Links of interest…  Alaskan Fudge Co: candies & giftsfacebook / recipe…  Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary: about / facebook / website…  Diocese of Juneau: facebook / The Inside Passage (monthly paper) / website…  Juneau: about / things to do / travel…  La Befana: The witch of Christmas (more)…  Molly of Denaliabout / facebook / NPR / podcast / premiere / youtube…  St. Nicholas Orthodox Church: aboutfacebook / website…  Wizard of Oz (ruby slippers & more)…

WP posts…  Authentic delight…  Naturally engaging…  Verbosity