Dinner at Vince & Sara's

Kiana Travel Blog

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Arriving at Kiana
  

After Gray flew the fifth sling-load for the day, the four of us piled into Vince's boat and headed downstream to Kiana. Without opportunity to get out of camp to explore the region like I did last summer - and with our kitchen tent taken down - it was a treat to get into town for dinner at Vince and Sara's.

 

Though it has been less than a year, I was thrilled to be back in Kiana and wanted to stroll its dirt streets to see what might have changed. But unlike me and my job, our crew was on a limited schedule so we bee-lined to the house on the 4-wheeler ATV that Vince keeps at the river landing whenever he's out on the boat. The keys were in it.

 

Their red house sat on a shallow bluff at the end of a narrow gravel lane.

Sara and Vince
As all neighborhood yards, Vince's was cluttered with broken ATVs and old snow machines and their parts, sleds, empty fuel drums, assorted piles of building materials, makeshift storage sheds, and other scraps that either still held some useful, future function or could not be burned. Buster barked from his dog pen as I pointed the camera in his direction; impatient by framing and the digital delay of auto focus.

 

We removed our boots on a side-deck and entered the spacious kitchen and living room. The house seemed roomy and well-furnished for the arctic. A floor-model television set, couch with pillow and blanket, a padded arm chair, and a computer desk all sat in the carpeted living room. A massive window overlooked the Kobuk River. The full-sized kitchen had the aroma of home. Sara had prepared a broiled chicken and mashed potato dinner for us as well as homemade bread and a pot of fresh coffee.

Wolf mitts
After devouring the savory meal, a hot shower was refreshing - it had been more than a week, since leaving the comforts of Wasilla. Gray and I did a load of laundry.

 

One shelf displayed a rare and ancient wooly mammoth tooth that Vince had found on the Kobuk, but a pair of well-used, furry mittens caught my eye. Each hefty mitt was about a foot-long and they were tied together by a length of red and green wool rope. Made of wolf leather and fur, the mitts were regularly used by Vince while riding his snow machine each winter. He explained that years ago, many such handcrafted personal items had been discarded for those of wool, rubber, or Gortex introduced by the white man. The wolf mitts survived and were decades old. Sara still makes hats from beaver skins and mukluks (knee-high boots) from the annual caribou harvest. I am considering having her make me a pair of mukluks.

The beach across the Kobuk
I would never buy such an item from a gift shop in Anchorage or Fairbanks but might from the village in which it was made and from the person who made it. A pair of mukluks would make a fine souvenir with soul.

 

Steep and narrow stairs led to a couple of snug rooms upstairs with a lengthy outside deck. Its view overlooked the confluence of the Kobuk and Squirrel Rivers and the Kobuk Valley. Snow patches still brushed the hills to the south. Acclimated Inupiat Eskimos picnicked on a narrow beach across the Kobuk while kids braved chilling waters for a swim.

 

 

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Arriving at Kiana
Arriving at Kiana
Sara and Vince
Sara and Vince
Wolf mitts
Wolf mitts
The beach across the Kobuk
The beach across the Kobuk
Approaching Vinces
Approaching Vince's
Back on the Kobuk
Back on the Kobuk
Approaching the boat landing
Approaching the boat landing
Buster
Buster
The ride home
The ride home
View from the deck
View from the deck
Kiana
photo by: rotorhead85