A Visit to Cicely, Alaska

Northern Exposure, an adventurous, charming, intelligent, amazing television series fully captured my heart, brain, and soul way back in 1994. Three books I’ve never considered getting rid of are the NX trifecta that was released while the show was on the air:

  
Not only did I buy The Northern Exposure Cookbook, a wasteland for vegetarians like myself, but I’ve kept it for several years now. The Northern Exposure Book has a handy episode guide, and the Chris-in-the-Morning book continues to inspire whenever I read a quote from KBHR’s philosophical, gentle, and smoking hot DJ.

My love for NX has persisted through hardship. When I first started watching the show, it came on at 10pm when my parents were going to bed. So I wouldn’t disturb them, my dad would turn the volume down so low on the television that even I had a hard time hearing the dialogue from six feet away. But still I watched. Then in August 1996, when my dad and I were heading home from Yellowstone, I convinced him to find the illustrious Roslyn, Washington, where the series was filmed. However, as we drove around town it didn’t occur to him that I might want to get out and stay a while. It was really hard for me to ask favors of him back then, so I never got any quality time with the town of my dreams.

After fifteen long years, I recently rectified that situation on my way to Missoula, Montana. Part of my decision to make the drive in two days was that I could do side trips…and it wasn’t long before I was dead-set on visiting Roslyn again. It would be a chance to finally bury one of my big regrets.

When I arrived, I brought Atticus out for a bathroom break, and we passed by Cafe Cicely. The two women inside came out to meet Atticus and give him treats. One of them runs the local animal rescue, and graciously gave us a bowl of water which we could continue to use on our journey. After I enjoyed an inexpensive mango sorbet ice cream, Atticus went back in the car and I headed over to Cicely’s Gift Shop, inside Dr. Joel Fleischman’s office.

Like the women across the street, the man tending Cicely’s Gift Shop was extremely friendly and had lots of time to chat. As the entire gift shop is a shrine to NX (“Dr. Joel Fleischman” is still painted in the window, and the structure has not changed since Universal filmed the show), he told me tales of how far people had come to see Roslyn (Israel was the furthest as of five days ago). He had moved to town from the east coast after becoming a fan of the show.

After seizing the opportunity to support the local economy with the purchase of a KBHR pint glass, NX long-sleeved T-shirt, and a legitimate copy of the “More Music from Northern Exposure” CD, I walked around town and shot some photos of buildings used in the show, and some that weren’t. The man at Cicely’s Gift Shop said that town opinion was divided about which town history to embrace: Roslyn’s past as a mining town, or its rebirth as the set of NX. There are scads of mining towns in this region, but it seems the people embracing the NX connection have it figured out, and are keeping their businesses afloat because of it.

See more photos from my visit here.

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2 Comments

Filed under television, Uncategorized

2 responses to “A Visit to Cicely, Alaska

  1. Shawn and I watched a season and a half of it on DVD from the library. Good stuff!!

  2. Stephen

    Aw! What a wonderful trip. I only watched an episode or two of NX, while it was still on the air, and only ever at a friend’s house at that. Good wholesome fun.

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