Dinner at Vince & Sara's
Kiana Travel Blog› entry 11 of 38 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.