The last few days have been packed with awesome!
On Friday morning, Meridith got a call from Bill, who was down at the helipad, that there were seals out. So we walked down to the canal and lo and behold! Seals! Playing out in the water! Adorbs.
On Friday evening, we went to Trivia Night at the Red Onion, which used to be a brothel and still gives brothel tours. The place ended up pretty packed by the time trivia started! Michaela and Lenny were there and joined our team. We scored pretty squarely in the middle – no real literary or nerdy questions for me! – but had a few drinks and a lot of fun.
Saturday was locals-get-to-do-tourist-things day (we got a flier about it). Sugar Mama's was selling cupcakes for a dollar – Tess picked up a red velvet one with cream cheese frosting to share – and after the show but before rehearsal we stopped by Glacial Smoothie for one dollar cookies. They were out of cookies, since it was almost closing time, but we grabbed coffee/smoothies to give us a little boost for rehearsal, and we also discovered an adjacent little boutique with cute clothes and nice shower gel and stuff. There's no other store like that in Skagway! The gal running the place – I forget her name, because I didn't note it down! – says that that's exactly why she started it.
And after rehearsal, we went to the corner outside of the Red Onion, where the flier had informed us we could catch the shuttle up to Dyea for s'mores and a campfire. Sure enough, the shuttle came around – but we were the only people who boarded! Oh well, we thought. We can have fun with just us :) The shuttle driver is named Floyd, and was pretty friendly. The drive to Dyea is beautiful and takes you past Smuggler's Cove, one of the places I want to take the short hike to. When we got to the ChilkootTrail Outpost, there actually were a few other people there, and as we trailed in, Cathy, the owner seemed just thrilled to see us. “I've never gotten so many people!” she said. She debriefed us on the history of Dyea, which was a booming gold rush town before Skagway was, since it's near the entrance to the Chilkoot Trail, which was the only way through the mountains before the railway was built. She showed us around the lodge, which is just beautiful, and even let us take a look at her super gorgeous, open living space. She also fed us to-die-for smoked salmon on crackers, and taught us the best way to make a s'more (you put the whole s'more between the prongs of a two-pronged utensil, and slowly turn it over the coals).
The other people at the lodge were also here for their first summer, and had actually just arrived that day! Their names are Chris, Adam, and Gabby; they're in their mid-twenties; they're originally from upstate New York but lived in Salem most recently; they've left Salem theoretically permanently but don't know what they plan to do after this summer; and they work at the Gold Dredge Brewery just outside of town. Also there was Gregory, whom I didn't get to know quite as well, but who also looks to be in the vicinity of my age and who is a dance instructor who'll be teaching social dance at the Brewery every Thursday. I can't wait to go! Anyway, we all hit it off pretty well, and I got Gabby's number so our two groups can meet up to hang out. Yay new friends!
Once we'd toured the lodge, we walked down the hill a bit to where Michael and friends of his were gathered around a campfire. With the supplies Cathy had leant us, we tried the new s'mores technique – and whoa if that wasn't the best s'more I've ever eaten in my life. I caught mine on fire about eighty million times, but it turned out perfect anyway, with toasty graham and gooey crunchy marshmallow and chocolate that actually melted. Yum! Now I want one of those tools!
Floyd drove us back down to Skagway, stopping for us to get out at a viewpoint on the way, and dropped us off at home. We changed out of our smoky clothing and went out for a quick dinner at the BrewCo, which was offering appetizers half-off. We turned in for the evening, shared out Tess's red velvet cupcake, and passed out!
Sunday was our day off. It was the first rainy day since I've been here, and it was actually pretty nice to have an excuse for a day in. My day in didn't last too long, though, since around noon – while the other gals were at church – Michael came home and asked if I wanted to go hunting for morels! We took off and drove to a trail off the road to Dyea, where we scoured the woods for mushrooms. We met with no success – Michael had said it might be a day too early, but he wanted to get the jump on it just in case – but traversing the loam and enjoying the woods was pretty great all by itself. (Although, infuriatingly, we found out later that Tegan had found forty in almost the same places. Apparently she is just about the queen of foraging.) It drizzled pleasantly the whole time, and we ended up down at Smuggler's Cove – not the same route by which I would hike to it from town – which is just breathtaking. On our way back up the hill, we saw a couple of red-headed sapsuckers, which are fun to see because their heads are so brilliant! On the drive home, we stopped at the organic market, which was fun to explore (vanilla beans! hickory smoked salt! spices!), and then drove past the dock, where we saw arctic terns. Talk about a lovely bird. They're snowy white, with elegant forked tales. As Michael puts it, they'll just break your heart.
Michael, by the way, has lived in Mexico with a girlfriend; owned an antique shop on Telegraph Avenue; owned a Mexican restaurant in Baltimore; hung out with jazz musicians in New Orleans; lived in New York City (not necessarily all in that order); lived on a boat off the coast of Miami, where he had a job with a fancy name I can't remember, involving analyzing core samples from the ocean; and has now retired to Skagway, where he spends his winters listening to Great Courses and his summers playing for the show and foraging in the woods. He is just about the coolest person ever.
On Sunday night, Douglas the British librarian/tour guide/radio DJ had us all (Jon and Tegan, Allison, the five of us over Bites, and his own two roommates) over for dinner, which was lovely! Roast chicken, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and totally killer potatoes. Plus I brought brownies, which were a hit. Plus the company was delightful. We had a lot of fun.