Sometimes, Gentle Reader, you’re on the cusp of moving to Europe to be a vagabond. Sometimes, that will inspire old beaus to spring for airfare so that they can see you once more before you go. Sometimes, you just have to say yes to people’s kindness.
Thus it was that I accepted Mr. Temple’s kind invitation to visit him in Anchorage, Alaska. My family has a lot of ties to the frozen north, and I spent a winter there myself many years ago. However, I’d never spent any time in Alaska’s most populated city, and I was excited to explore it hand in hand with an old flame.
He flew me first class, which I’d never enjoyed before – the leg room was very welcome, as were the cocktails that the flight attendant veritably insisted I try. I landed; we embraced; we went straight to the hotel – which was very swanky. I felt spoiled; that feeling continued when I saw the array of nibbles and the absolute ocean of wine laid in for our long weekend.
My first day up north, Mr. Temple had to work – quelle dommage! – and I decided to attempt an expedition on my own. We were a ways from the city center, but I’d looked up the public transit system so I was sure I was set. After twenty careful minutes on the sheet of ice that was the hotel parking lot, though, I turned back – if it had taken me that long to go so short a distance, perhaps I shouldn’t be out on my own – especially with my bad knee acting up. I returned to the hotel room, where I curled up with a novel until my beau got home from work. I greeted him, and we had what felt like a very domestic cozy night in.
The next day, we set out by bus. I’ll admit, I was pretty curious about the public transport there – the roads, while plowed, were bounded by high banks of snow, essentially layered like an icy lasagna. After we’d made our way to the bus (seriously, we had to walk ridiculously slowly to avoid death by ice) my questions were answered – the bus ride was the same as any other, except when it was turning. When it turned, you could feel half the bus tilt as it rode up onto the high-piled snow.
Eventually, we at last hit downtown Anchorage. Mr. Temple showed me the concert hall, the theaters, a number of cute local shops – all of which were closed. Some were closed for the winter, but most were just closed because it was Monday, as we learned from a woman selling sculptures in the lobby of the Captain Cook hotel. It was a pleasant little sort of walking tour – like any other rambling date with no aim in mind, just wandering city streets. We discovered a Gumbo House, the Mexican Consulate, a little park filled with charmingly melting ice sculptures, and other wonders.
After my experience finding open-armed welcome in Portland’s Gay Bars, I had looked up Anchorage’s scene, and found information on four separate establishments, reportedly downtown. We spent a fair amount of time looking for them – and even found a boarded up club advertising “Those Amazing Bears!” – but we couldn’t seem to locate any of the places I’d found.
Let the scene fade as we head back to the hotel room to do some further digging, while we take some appetizers and perhaps a cocktail before our evening plans.