Almost two years ago, when our families were arriving in Juneau for our marriage, Oksana and I tried very hard to be good hosts. Unfortunately, in planning the wedding, we weren’t able to spare enough time for the task. We were hoping that Alaska would play nice that summer and show our guests what it can be like on a sunny, warm day. That way we could turn them loose and let them make their own fun.
Seeing as we live in Southeast Alaska, though, it was much more likely that it would rain the entire time they were with us. That’s why I was practically ecstatic when the day of their Tracy Arm cruise dawned to clear blue skies – no matter what happened from that point on (including the possibility of a rained-out wedding), they would look back and judge their entire stay on that one, perfect day.
I was hoping for at least one such day during my mom’s visit this last weekend – lucky me; I’m batting 1.000.
I took Friday off of work to hang out with my mom even though she told me she would have been perfectly comfortable hanging out and waiting for us. Yeah, right. Like I’m going to let my mom spend an entire day of her vacation alone! Oksana still had to work, though, so instead of sleeping in my mom and I got up fairly early.
We chatting throughout the morning, and even with obviously stellar weather going on outside, we decided we’d just take it easy until lunchtime. Off and on she drank her tea and took advantage of the quiet by reading – I passed the time between conversations tediously editing a video project in After Effects.
The day was too nice to waste indoors, though, so we made plans to meet Oksana and Mike for lunch at the Thai restaurant. We got there at 1pm and, over our meals, decided how to spend the rest of the day. Surprisingly, my mom mentioned her desire to someday buy a new car. Oksana, working at a dealership, convinced us to stop by that afternoon… just to look around. She called ahead and made sure it wasn’t going to be too busy.
So, around 2pm, we left Chan’s Kitchen with Oksana and accompanied her to the Mendenhall Auto Center. Oksana found us a salesman and made it clear to him that we were just looking – he wouldn’t be getting a commission outta us. No problem. It was a slow, Friday afternoon.
Looking to trade in her behemoth of a Ford Explorer for something that handles better, my mom asked about Subarus. Outbacks, Forresters, Legacys, and Bajas; we got the whole rundown. While we were getting a feel for the differences, Oksana’s boss drove up and Oksana introduced him to my mom. In parting, he said that he’d love to sell my mom a car – for the same price he’d give Oksana! Hmmm.
After the owner left, the salesman asked my mom if she’d like to take an Outback out for a test drive. No, no, really that’s okay. But Oksana was there and she encouraged us to go ahead. I chimed in, “Why not? Here’s my cell phone – call your husband and tell him you’re about to drop $20,000 on a new car!”
My mom thought that sounded like fun, so while they were getting the keys, she called down to Ketchikan.
“Hi, hon. Guess what I’m going to do?”
“Buy a new car!”
“Great idea! Go ahead.”
“Seriously, you’ve been talking about getting a new car. I want to buy you one. Buy yourself a car!”
Suddenly, the innocuous test drive seemed far more important.
We hopped in, adjusted the seats and mirrors, and were off for a quick trip down to Fred Meyer’s and back. My mom LOVED the car and was ready to talk numbers when we got back.
Long story short, when we left the lot about an hour later, my mom had pretty much arranged to trade in her Explorer, sight unseen, for $3,500 off the Subaru’s price tag. They even offered to give her the car for the weekend – before she’d even signed anything! (Probably because they knew where to find Oksana…)
So, the excitement of possibly buying a new car was pretty much going to be the capper for the day, but we weren’t ready to give up on showing my mom a good time. Oksana clocked out early and we all went shopping at Costco. Ketchikan’s Walmart has gone a long way towards alleviating my mom’s Juneau shopping visits, but there’s no beating Costco for bulk deals. While Oksana and I slowly wove our way though the store, my mom kept coming and going – each time with a new item to drop in the cart. She had fun.
We took our new stuff back to our apartment and had about an hour to unwind before a bunch of my friends started to gather around 6pm. We normally meet every Friday night to hang out at our place, but my mom really wanted to see the Shrine of St. Therese and most everyone was agreeable on such a nice evening. We piled into three cars and off we went.
There couldn’t have been a better day to wander the landscaped trails around the shrine. We talked; took pictures, goofy and otherwise; walked the labyrinth; and sat on the edge of cliff looking out over the flat waters as eagles in the trees above us began diving-bombing for fish. As the sun began its long, early-Alaskan-summer setting, we made our ways back to the cars for the ride home.
Even on the way back it was like Juneau was conspiring to show my mom a good time. On the Auke Rec bypass a large deer charged across the road only to stop on the opposite shoulder for a look back at all the cars lining up to get a look. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time enough for my mom to dig out her camera.
Once we got home, I felt a little strange having all my friends over at the apartment with my mom visiting, but she was actually thrilled to see Oksana and I “in our environment.” Instead of our traditional Friday evening of Deep Space Nine, I dug up some old videotapes and we all sat around and ridiculed just about whatever it was that showed up on screen. It was the best of both worlds for me to have all my friends over and have my mom sitting quietly on the couch, a big smile on her face. Before long, and after such a full day, she retired a little earlier than the rest of us.
The first day of her visit was over, but there were still a couple days left in her stay, including Mother’s Day! I already knew that, short of blowing off Mother’s Day entirely, we would be hard pressed to ruin her vacation.
Like that day she went to Tracy Arm almost two years ago, Juneau had decided to show its good side. I hope that this would be another one of those vacation days that, when looked back upon, would overshadow all the others in her memory.