Back in the 90’s, if you recall, the television series Northern Exposure was quite a hit. Set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, a quirky cast of disparate characters hooked me from the moment the show hit the airwaves.
This was not ordinary television mind-numbing garbage. This was a show for readers. The writing ranged from the profound (e.g., existential angst, the cycle of life and death, the hereafter) to the inane (love-hate relationships, flying circus man, theft of car radios).
I always wondered where my Cicely, Alaska was, or if such a place could ever exist in my life. I was a New Orleans native living in New Jersey at the time the show first aired, definitely a fish out of water, and not in my dream town of Cicely, for sure. But where was my Cicely, the home for a person who wants a home, the home for a person who doesn’t really belong in any single place?
The dream of finding Cicely has never died within me, but alack and alas, predictably such a place has never materialized. Ever my knight, Norm said last summer, “Stacy, pack your Traveling Socks. We’re going to Cicely!” And so we headed west to the place where Cicely supposedly existed – Roslyn, Washington.
For a couple of glorious days, I was able to shed my shell and become a citizen of Cicely. The town of Roslyn has not changed much since the 90’s. Ruth Ann’s store is visible as soon as you drive into town.
The Brick is still on the corner (though the interior shots were filmed in a studio outside of town),
and Roslyn’s cafe can be seen from blocks away because of that ubiquitous mural – though they have since removed the “apostrophe s.” (Remember when Maurice said that he added the apostrophe s in order to correct the grammar because the artist was so high on the weed, he completely forgot it? I was smitten with that town from the first moment.)
Norm and I enjoyed a meal at the Brick and another at the Roslyn cafe. I asked a waitress what people did here – the attractions for tourists and the employment for the locals. Well, folks, Maurice finally got his dream of a resort for the town. Suncadia is located a couple of miles down the road and employs many locals while entertaining the tourists.
We lollygagged around the town and stepped into Joel’s office at the erstwhile Northwestern Mining Company. It’s now a gift shop, but his name remains on the window. One of the native townsfolk – the gift shop owner – was an extra in several episodes and is a wealth of information on the show, the cast, the locations of the sets and buildings used in the series.
It was a delight to spend a few minutes of his time picking his brain about Northern Exposure. (I wish I could remember his name!) He was patient with me and glad to share his knowledge. I wish he’d write a book.
Pretend can only last so long, and we had to say goodbye to the sweet little town whose real-life citizens made our stay a dream-come-true.
But the vacation was not over, and my Socks were prepared for the next leg of our journey. As they used to say on television, “Stay tuned, folks!”