Time Hasn’t Quite Stopped Here

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We pulled off the highway in western Montana, on our way to Glacier. I had seen some promising signs of fresh cherries and peaches along the side of the road and directions to this town with a name I don’t remember. I expected a fruit stand – but the only promising place was a general store/antique store at the end of the road in the opposite direction. We appeared to be the only ones in town, although they seemed to believe there would be more by the looks of the flags and the for sale sign.

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I kept thinking I was missing something but this is all there was, because the mountain raising up precluded any side streets. Just the highway, the mountain, and two people trying to sell something.

When I entered the store, a bell clanged loudly to announce my arrival and a woman appeared. No, she didn’t have any fresh cherries but she had fresh, pitted, frozen cherries.

“No, thank you.” It was a dark place, like the mountains and time had shut out all light entering. There was the usual merchandise a small general store would have – one or two containers of one choice of a wide variety of packaged food and toiletries. A few hardware items and some postcards. And interspersed were antiques and second-hand articles, seemingly placed where they would fit more than according to any grand plan.

I wish I hadn’t had cherries as my only goal. I wish I hadn’t been tired from hearing train horns blaring 50 yards from my bedroom for the past 4 nights. I wish we hadn’t felt the pull of having to be somewhere down the road that night and the bigger pull of starting towards home. I wish Jim hadn’t felt the misery of having a new cold set in.

I wish I would have chatted with the woman who came from somewhere in the back to help us. I wish I would have asked her questions that, even now, I can’t seem to formulate. I would have liked to know about her and the town and the other people who must live there, somewhere along the only street through town. But this is the knowledge that is gained from staying around a while, caring enough to put off doing what was already in the plans. You learn these stories by building trust that only comes from making a commitment.

Remote: Tenakee Springs Alaska

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I heard that the word in our ear this week is “remote” and that inspired me to post on Tenakee Springs in Southeast Alaska. This town of about 100 peopleĀ is remote!

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It is on Chichagof Island, on the Tenakee Inlet. The only way to get here is by water or air.

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There are no roads coming in and it could be argued if the dirt road is maybe just a wide path. It is impossible to get lost because there aren’t any turns – only a bend in the path that follows the curve of the beach.

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Transportation is pretty simple. There are a couple of trucks in town, used for work. Getting a car into town would be expensive and then there isn’t anywhere to take it. Parking is also a problem.

I find the houses in places I visit interesting because they trigger my imagination about the people who live there and what their life is like. The inhabitants of Tenakee Springs are a mixture of full-time and summer inhabitants.

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It seems that this community was built around the hot springs that are in the middle of town. Men and women have different hours at the bath house, but we were asked not to go in to respect their privacy.

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We visited the community on a Sunday morning so it was very quiet, but I passed a couple of people who gave a warm hello. I could tell people are happy here because there were casual and whimsical decorations everywhere I looked.

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It seems that the people who call Tenakee Springs their home like it just the way it is. Some people in Hoonah, on the other side of the island, want to build a road to Tenakee Springs, but people here don’t want it. A car ferry also wants to stop here, but they are fighting that, too – because then they would have to build a parking lot down by the dock.

I fell in love with Tenakee Springs, but there is one last secret – and I am saving that for another post.

D is for – Diner

Every small town has one – the place where the farmers go for breakfast after morning chores, the retired fellows sit around a big table drinking coffee and telling stories, business owners grab a quick lunch, friends meet, families go for birthdays and anniversaries. It is the local diner. It is where everyone knows everyone.

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I remember stopping once in a small town to ask a person on the street where’s a good place to eat. He said there was a nice place over by the interstate – but I interrupted and asked where he went to eat. “Oh,” he said, “go down to the light, turn left and go two blocks. You’ll see it on your right, where all the cars are.”

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We were glad we asked.

Frizz can direct you to other interpretations of the DDD Challenge if you click here.