There aren’t many highways suitable for road-tripping in Alaska. But the ones we do have are dotted with plenty of interesting road-side attractions. In the first part of a series we’re calling “Roadside Attractions,” we head north about 20 miles to Anchor Point.
Since moving to Homer last December, I’ve been making the drive from Homer to Soldotna and Kenai for all sorts of reasons: work, a much-needed trip to Fred Meyer or to see a few buddies. I just get in the car and go from Point A to Point B. And I know I’m not alone in doing that.
But curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided I needed to actually go into some of the restaurants, bars and touristy spots that litter the highway. So heading out this past Saturday, I made my first stop with my friend Nyla: The Blue Bus Diner in Anchor Point. Chett Seekins has owned the Blue Bus since 1997. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Chett’s burgers and shakes.
Chett’s parents, Gert and Floyd, were also grabbing lunch while we were there. In between chatting with them, Nyla and I took in the sights. There are dozens and dozens of cookie jars on various shelves. Some of them, like the one that looks like a miniature police officer, even talk.
Chett said she started the collection soon after buying the diner and people from the community come in and drop them off.
“A lot of my cookie jars are from folks in the area that are no longer with us. They put grandma in a home, they bring me the cookie jar for the grandkids to come in and enjoy. People got cookie jars they wanna get rid of? Bring ‘em to me. I’ll buy ‘em lunch,” she said.
The cookie jars aren’t the only things to look at. Chett has paintings by her mom hanging on the walls, and there’s a piano in one corner. She bought it from the old Ninilchik Baptist Church more than 20 years ago.
“I don’t necessarily play for people unless they ask,” she said.
Chett said she gets a good amount of traffic in the summer from tourists, but the locals have been loyal customers throughout the winter. And she will remember you, usually by your order.
“I know a lot of people what they eat, but I don’t know their names. And that might sound horrible, but they’re all my friends…. In fact, this one guy, I didn’t know his name for years. I just called him ‘Mocha,’” she said.
When our burgers finally made it to the table, Nyla and I both dug right in. I’ll likely become one of Chett’s many regulars. Now I just need to find a cookie jar to swap with her for a burger and shake.