Friday, May 27, 2011

Just A Spot of Coffee and Conversation

It's 6:30 a.m., and I'm having coffee inside the Buckinghorse Lodge Restaurant along the Alaska Highway. Horseshoes and pictures of horses, moose and bear decorate the paneled walls inside this low-slung eatery. The linoleum floor shows the cracks of age.

Two display cases feature hunting knives, another music CDs. Up at the cash register, there's a small display case with jewelry. And there's a table with last night's desserts wrapped up for sale.

It's just me this morning, with my coffee, sitting at a wooden table, soaking in the rustic nature of this out-of-the-way place. We're at Mile 175 on the Alaska Highway, and the cook tells me there's no name for this town. It's just a place. The mailing address is Pink Mountain, but it's not really Pink Mountain.

Like I said, it's an out-of-the-way place.

Then three grizzled men come in, separately, and sit at different tables.

These guys are truckers, and they're all eating breakfasts of eggs, toast and sausage. And they talk. To each other. In code.

"I came down the 85."
"I'm just going to kilometer 5."
"He might of did the fry head ..."
"He chained up in the middle ..."

And then there's stuff I do understand. These three men, all wearing denim and cowboy hats, all sitting apart, come together with their talk. They exchange stories about brake linings, oil pan repairs and bears. "Saw a big one this morning, coming down from Fort Nelson." "Seen any grizzlies yet?" "Nope, just black.")

A female trucker comes in.

The talk stops. I hear chewing. Utensils clanging on plates. She visits the washroom, then leaves.

The talk resumes.

One by one they leave, without a wave or a spoken farewell. Their bellies filled, their need for human contact satisfied.

And then a fourth guy walks in. This one's much younger. Maybe in his 30s. He orders coffee and toast. And heads for the jewelry, where he asks the price of a necklace. $8. He buys it. Slips it in his pocket and leaves.

A family of four (with the cutest little kids) comes in for coffee, potato chips, candy. And another trucker stops. And another.

And then it's just me. Sitting here, writing, drinking my coffee. Waiting for the door to open again. Realizing this is no out-of-the-way place.

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