Wasilla was technically several miles down the Parks highway from where it leaves the Glenn highway. But Wasilla is a town that follows the highway, so basically it began right here right now.
“Oh my God!” There was a huge modern–medical facility?–Mat-Su Regional it said.
There used to be a little store below that hill. Was it a gas station? I couldn’t remember, but the store was like a gas station store. Thing about that store was it was the place the bus started.
Wasilla had no buses. But everyone commutes to Anchorage, so an enterprising guy with an old vehicle started ferrying people from this old store to Anchorage. He didn’t advertise, it was just a word of mouth thing, kinda expensive for the time, 10 bucks I think. It had to be worth the guy’s time. My brothers Bryan and Mark used this way to get to Bible school the first year.
That store was gone. And a huge hospital loomed over it’s empty spot. Changes.
Except….even my tired eyes coulnd’t see much of a difference after that. Yes, new things were built. It was a little more crowded down the Park highway corridor. But the types of things were so ordinary that they blended in…to my eyes so accustomed to such things, a Carl’s Jr. and a Walmart did not seem like a change.
The overpasses were new. Never seen such a thing before. Some of the main roads were now OVER the highway and not stop signs to enter.
We made our way past what had been the mall of my youth, Cottonwood Creek. The frumpy Lamonts store and the ever desirous Jay Jacobs was no more. The Safeway where I shed blood and tears was part of that mall. It was paved over to be the parking lot for the Target under construction there.
With a Wal-Mart, a Sears, Fred Meyers, a huge Carr’s and now a Target, Wasilla was the Shopping Center for the bush of Alaska lucky enough to have roads.
The Mcdonald’s was right where I left it. I’d spent two summers employed there. Good memories there, 15 and 16 years old pegging the SOO unfahionable uniform pants to conform tightly to my calves.
It was approximately 5 am. It was raining. The McDonald’s was not open.