Memoirs of a JAP in the Last Frontier (Shopping in Alaska)

A few years ago I joined my husband Ari on one of his business trips to Alaska. It was during the week of Memorial Day weekend and we intended to use the long weekend to explore Alaska. We stayed in Wasilla; an hour and 45 minute drive from Anchorage. If the name Wasilla sounds familiar, it’s probably because it’s Sarah Palin’s hometown. During the business days when Ari was seeing his client, I planned to explore the area by myself. On such trips I love to go to museums and shows during the day, but that was not quite an option in this part of the country. I figured that shopping might be the best way to start exploring what the place has to offer. On my first morning there I wore my in-town shopping gear (comfortable items that are easy to put on and take off, in case I try on new things) and went down to the lobby to get some guidance. 

“Good morning,” I approached the receptionist, excited by my planned shopping adventure, “Could you please guide me to a place where I could do some shopping?” I could not wait to go back home and show all my newly purchased artifacts from the Last Frontier.
“Shopping?” the dumbstruck receptionist repeated the word, as if I said something in Yiddish with a Punjabi dialect.
“Yeah, Shop-ping.” I repeated the word slowly, hoping it would help her comprehend the meaning of it.
“We don’t do shopping here,” she said in her most authoritative tone.
“So what do you do?” I asked shocked. What kind of a civilization has no shopping?
“We go to nature,” she explained, giving me her most educative look.
“Nature?” This time it was my turn to be dumbstruck. Nature was never my cup of tea. The closest thing I had done to camping was to stay in a two and a half stars hotel, and that was traumatic.  
She gave me a map and driving instruction to a nearby place called “Hatcher Pass”, “It’s a beautiful place,” she encouraged me.

Having nothing better to do, I went to the car and followed her instructions. As the girl said, it was a beautiful place.  As I parked the car at the entrance near the river, I felt adventurous and decided to go for a walk. My kitten heel shoes were perfect for the occasion. Before going on the trail, I called Ari. “Guess where I am?” I knew that never in a million year would he have guessed where his wife went of her own freewill. “I’m in nature,” I announced proudly, “and I’m going for a walk.” 

Being the Yenta that I am, before heading on my expedition by foot, I took my time to admire the view and take photos of the river from different angles (you never know which will make a great inspiration for painting).  It was then when Ari called me back, “I was told you should be careful from the bears,” he said in a tone as if he was warning me from a slight change in the weather. “I’ll be in the car,” I announced immediately.

It was a beautiful ride, as you can judge for yourself from the photos here. I had my shopping fix on Sunday when we visited Talkeetna, which was the inspiration for the small town in the show “Northern Exposure”. By then I was so deprived of the aspects of civilization I’m used to, so there was no happier woman than me when I found the Talkeetna Chocolate Corner in this god-forsaken place.  Entering the shop I thought I was seeing a fata morgana, but it was real, the place had an amazing variety of European chocolates. That was my “Ah Mechayeh” moment in Alaska.   

Downtown Talkeetna

For more photos from this trip to Alaska click here