Aside from the Handmaid’s Tale, my favorite television series of all time is Northern Exposure. I loved all the quirky individuals on that show. I know what it’s like to be a square peg in a round hole. I’d have fit right in in the fictional Cicely, Alaska.
I would have loved to hang out with Shelly and Holling at the Brick. I’d have been friends with Marilyn and Ruth-Anne. I would have been fascinated by Ed. I’m not going to lie, I probably would have avoided Joel as much as I could, but I’m quite sure I’d have had a crush on Chris, even as I did in real life. I’d have loved listening to his radio show on KBHR, hearing his philosophical sound bites and his wonderful taste in music.
So imagine my delight, upon moving to Washington State, to discover that all the exterior shots for the show, which ran from 1990 to 1995, were filmed in the town of Roslyn, Washington, less than 2 hours from where I live. I’ve been there several times in the years since. Just driving down the iconic main street makes my heart swell with joy. I always feel like I’m coming home.
I’m so glad that the Roslyn Café mural is still on the wall. And the Brick, on the outside, looks just the same as it always did. I never fail to feel a bit sad that the interior isn’t the same as it was on the show. It never was. But I have eaten there several times regardless.
You can still see Joel Fleischman’s name painted on the storefront that used to be his clinic. It’s now a shop that sells all things Northern Exposure. And right by that is good ol’ Chris in the Morning’s radio studio, still very much intact. I press my nose to the window, and I can still imagine him sitting right there, delving deep into his wisdom and sharing it with us.
I can’t imagine what a disruption to daily life the filming of this show must have been. Roslyn is a very, very small town. But in fairness, it’s been feasting off the tourism ever since. I’m sure that as the years go on, fewer and fewer people will remember this show, and that’s a shame, because it was amazing. But time does march on.
Still, the main street of Roslyn will forever feel like the early 90’s to me. It’s a bittersweet feeling, because every time I go there, I wonder where all my quirky friends have gone. I half expect to see Maggie come around the corner, but no.
It’s like I went back in time to visit loved ones, but nobody’s home. Ah, nostalgia. They’ll live on in my memory, though. No question about that.
And now I’ve got the theme song stuck in my head. Enjoy these pictures from some of my visits while I sit here and hum.
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