Copper River Fleece and Back to the Future

The rest of Friday was spent exploring shops downtown, eating lunch at the Powder House, venturing to one end of town for sight-seeing and then back for banquet organization and prep and a delicious fish dinner at Gary and Libby’s. However, two specific things took prevalence to the day: Copper River Fleece, and a wild Alaskan bar night at the Reluctant.

Copper River Fleece is a clothing store specific to Cordova, but popular throughout Alaska. The store is made up of mostly vests and jackets, but they also sell purses and hats and blankets, each item unique because of the custom trim that you can have sewn into your purchase. The trims are made by local artists and are composed of animals and symbols of Alaskan culture. Megan had raved about Copper River Fleece, as she had bought a vest with puffin trim last year, and was convinced that I was going to make a purchase as well. Copper River Fleece has excellent quality products, but for a steep price. I was convinced I was going to stay grounded in my financial stronghold, and had mentally prepared myself for the group excursion, repeating internally my mantra of “I will not spend money, I will not spend money,” in an attempt to preserve my bank account.

Unfortunately and fortunately, the first thing I saw upon walking in the store was a vest with a trim I couldn’t say no to: Iditarod dogs.

“Damnit…” I murmured quietly, trying to remember my mantra. I couldn’t. It was gone. I found myself reaching for the vest, trying it on, falling in love with it, and immediately barring my brain from refusing this purchase.

I walked to the counter, defeated and elated. Megan was ecstatic. “Told you!!” She bubbled triumphantly. “I know….” I whimpered, guiltily satisfied with my decision.

The clerk looked at my jacket when I presented it for payment, her face lighting up.

“Oh, this is our newest trim!” She informed me, clearly as excited about the fabric as I was. “A local artist actually partnered with Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod.” She looked around briefly, lifting a few papers behind her. “We have cards with the backgrounds of the artist and inspiration for the trim, but,” she stopped looking and apologetically flipped her palms over in defeat. “I think this one is so new we don’t have them made yet.”

“That’s okay,” I said, feeling better about my decision with her story. I was feeling more confident in this purchase by the minute. I had a feeling I would stay that way until I checked my bank account.

Megan got another jacket made with a flowery trim, and Suzanne got a new long jacket. Greg was wearing his Copper River Fleece and Eric bought his girlfriend some socks. Vicki informed us she owned 43 articles of clothing from the store already.

We headed back, purchases in tow, wallets a little lighter, and organized merchandise and games for the banquet the next day. We had a delicious dinner provided by Gary and Libby and ate family style around their large dining room table. Then Megan and I headed back to the hotel for part two: The Wild Alaskan Bar Night.

I wrote this story a few weeks ago, and will present it in it’s (near) original format:

“Let me set the scene: Megan and I are in small-town-only-accessible-by-ferry-or-plane-2,239-population-no-stop-light Cordova, Alaska. There are five listed bars on the tourism website. Two of these are hotels. We are staying at one of the hotels. So Megan goes “we should probably go to The Reluctant (short for ‘The Reluctant Fisherman Inn’, aka: the hotel we are staying at) at least once while we are here.” Time for a wild Alaskan bar night. We decide to head to the bar wearing Copper River Fleece vests  and backwards HCC hats (High Caliber Club – which is a Friends of NRA distinction if your event raises over a certain amount of money you are considered “high caliber”) that were gifted to us earlier that day. We were looking fly AF (aka ridiculous).

We go up to the counter to order drinks and the two guys who were sitting at the bar near us part so we can have seats, so we sit down. That’s when I notice there’s a TV in the corner, and that they’re playing Back to the Future. I get real hyped. I love Back to the Future. I’ve definitely seen it over a hundred times. I’m making enough of a scene that the guy next to me, who is also watching the movie, notices. He also loves Back to the Future. We have a conversation that is not so much a conversation but literally the two of us quoting upcoming lines back and forth in a rapid-fire and unsanctioned Back to the Future quoting contest.

Meanwhile Megan is on the other side of me. I would find out after we left that the guy beside her has asked what High Caliber means. She explains. He hears NRA and taps out. That’s right, Megan has found the only Alaskan who is not about the NRA. She dismisses this and tries to proceed in conversation. The cord has become unplugged on the clock tower. Doc Brown is panicking, but not letting this stop Marty from getting back to 1985. Megan realizes her conversation is not going to be a positive one. Doc Brown slides down the cord and gets it plugged in – in the nick of time! Marty zaps back to the future and Doc Brown runs triumphantly through the flame streaked streets. Megan elbows me. “Time to go?” I ask. She nods. “Well, nice talking to you,” Megan states and extends her hand to the firearms hating fisherman. He looks her ferociously in the eye, tucks his hands behind his back and yells “NO!” directly into her face.

We leave, realize we locked our keys in our hotel room and must call the help hotline to get additional keys to our room (no one is at the front desk at this hour in Alaska). And that was our wild Alaskan bar night.”

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