Wedding, photos of Alaska, Great Gatsby Gala, oh my!

It has been a busy busy time since the significant other’s shop burnt down. There was a day spent moving salvageable equipment from the crispy shop to a storage unit. Another day spent scrubbing all the soot and smoke damage off those tools till our hands were raw and cracking from the cleaner and all the water that was used. My signifie other dealt with alot of other things, like getting a new place set up, which I am glad to say he has done. Dealing with all of that plus preparing for our big family trip to Alaska I’ve neglected this blog for too long.
Our amazing trip across the U.S.A to the mountainous state of Alaska came so quickly! Before we knew it our bags were packed and we were making our way onto an airplane jet set to Chicago. Then after hanging around Chicago for 3 hours(most of these 3 hours were spent sipping white wine and just people watching)we hopped on a plane to Anchorage. Our very first day, June 5, took well over 14 hours to complete. We started at 11:00 am Eastern time and ended at 10:30 PM Alaska time(a 4 hour time difference!) The cool thing was that at this late hour the sun still sat in the sky casting a light we’d normally see around 6:30 PM our local time. It never truly got dark in Alaska although the sun “set” around midnight and “rose” around 4 am. Not much of a nighttime, more like more time to party and enjoy your loved ones company! People were out at 11:30 pm biking with their families. They were absorbing as much of this barely dark time as possible before their very dark winter.
Our first full day there was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining bright and it wasn’t cold; I’d say it was upper 60s. Previous to the start of our trip the weather forecasted was rain, rain, and more….yep, you guessed it, rain. But we awoke to a perfect day and I loved all the scenery around me.
You’re probably wondering how we even ended up with this trip to Alaska.
Let me explain.
My wonderful boyfriend’s brother in law has two very generous parents that live in Girdwood, Alaska. Charlie, the brother in law, was raised in Alaska and met Craig’s sister, Coal, there,  and she had moved from PA allllllll the way to Alaska. They were going back to visit Charlie’s parents, and  were bringing their two beautiful, fun children, whom my boyfriend and I love to death. So they invited us along and how can you say no? I’ve never been, I’ve never thought of going, but it sounded like a great opportunity. So after pinching pennies and making a few ends meet, we bought our tickets and traveled over 4,500 miles to have an adventure.
Our first full day was an easy one. The girls seperated from the boys. It was Coal, Kerry, Coal’s daughter, and me. While the boys: my boyfriend, Charlie, Chuck, and Charlie’s son, went shrimpin’! The ladies made pasta salad and prepared a salad for dinner, things women can do. We went for a nice stroll to take a looksie at what surrounded us. There are mountains all around and beautiful fields that stretch beyond. Of course there are tons of trees clumped in forests and wildlife thriving within its branches. It was quite a change from the Garden State. But I was so happy to be on a vacation, I’m sure you know the feeling…
First night summed up, the boys came back from their shrimpin excursion with a gallon of shrimpies and we ate a nice dinner of barbequed Halibut that Chuck had caught! You don’t get fresher fish than fish caught personally by oneself!! It was delicious!
Our second full day was spent hiking the forest at the side of Mt. Alyeska, which is right by Chuck and Kerry’s home. It is supposedly a great skiing/snowboarding mountain. I don’t really know what qualifications a mountain has to have besides being big and covered in snow to be great for these sports. I’ve never done either one, but it looked pretty rad to me! The forest we hiked through was amazing and peaceful. (You’ll find that the word amazing will pop up here and there alot when talking about Alaska, so bare with me.) It was a 5 mile hike with lots of small streams, creeks, and rivers running all sorts of ways through it. There is a hand tram that crosses a gigantic canyon with a rapidly racing river at the bottom of it. It’s kind of nerve-wrecking to get in that rickety cage and pull yourself across over such a large drop into very cold glacier water. But fun all the same! It was a exhilarating hike that helped me melt some stress away. I took a billion photographs which will probably end up in a second blog post all to itself since this one seems to be filling up quick!
What I forgot to mention about our second full day was that I ran away from a bear! An actual bear! The boyfriend, his sister and her son, and I took a hike down to a creek along a path ironically named “Bear Trail”.  We were jumping around enjoying the scenery when Coal yelled “Bear! Run!” and we all took off toward a tiny airport that happened to be near by. Apparently you aren’t suppose to run, but hey, why risk it? I think the bear got a little weirded out by our craziness and took off into the woods. It was an eye opening experience for me. I mean, I’ve never dealt with a bear. Have you? I live in New Jersey at the top of the food chain. In Alaska, if I piss off that bear, I’m kibble! I don’t want to scare you off from planning a trip there, it’s rare to see bears, and being in a group frightens them away more than draws them near. But what a great story!!!
By day 3 I was feeling a little off. But I wrote it off as being caused by a change in diet(I was eating more fish than usual and less bread and veggies and fruit) and being in a new place. I tried to enjoy the day and not think about my stomach hurting. It wasn’t too hard since we stopped at a sweet wildlife reservation on our way to some cabins on hold for us in Hope, AK. We saw moose and brown bear. Some caribou, elk, and a baby moose. It was a nice little get up for these animals that had either been injured in the wild by humans or other causes. I really enjoyed see the brown bear even though I am not a fan of caged animals. They have a large amount of space to roam about and are well taken care of by the park. This specific park is just out to make sure these animals live a life they might not have gotten out in the wild. Kudos!
Once we got into Hope we settled into three sweet log cabins in a comfortable campground. We had a delicious dinner at the campground restaurant and then made our way into the little town of Hope. Now this place isn’t huge by any means. The population I was told is 80. 80?! Holy crap! Could you imagine?! I went from over populated New Jersey to a town with 80 people! But it was a sight to behold! Just some small cabin type homes and dirt roads. A small bar sits right before the water and a gorgeous stretch of mountains looks back from the opposite side. It was beautiful to the ump degree. The bar was small and entirely made of log. They sadly only served beer, which is not my alcohol of choice, but it was a cute town and a cute bar. We met a girl who moved from Girdwood(population 2100) to Hope(80) because Girdwood was too crowded. These people wouldn’t survive one day in New Jersey. No way. But hey I give them alot of credit for stickin’ to their guns about living in such a place. Alaska is one of a kind. It is an experience you can only understand by having it yourself.
We went to bed that night after S’mores and more good times. I was still feeling off and I was getting nervous.
You should always trust your instincts and never ignore your body’s signals.
By our 4th full day I was done. My body gave out and I became very sick. I must have picked up a stomach bug in my big travels. I threw up and slept all day. I had no energy or appetite. If you’ve gotten sick on vacation, you can understand how bummed I was. I hoped that by sleeping all day I’d be better by the next day. 24 hour bug? I hoped.
I was wrong. I tried to function the next day, I truly wanted to enjoy my last few days of Alaska. I wouldn’t let this virus hold me back. It just wasn’t possible. I felt worse than awful. I slept for most of the second day. We had traveled back from Hope the first day I became ill and that was a difficult ride. The second day of being ill I tried for a sushi meal, because if you truly know me, I am a huge lover of sushi. It was very disappointing to me that I could not enjoy a wonderful sushi meal with my family. I went. I sat there, but I couldn’t eat. I just went back after dinner and slept till the next day. This time I was praying I’d be better and ready to do something even if it was easy. I didn’t want to waste my time and I was on friggin vacation!!!
By the 3rd day of being sick I wasn’t too bad. I still lacked an appetite and I still felt very weak and uneasy. I managed to take a small hike to visit a glacier and meet another bear(this time she was trying to get away from us) and enjoy being in the company of my family. Kind of. I was trying to take it easy, but I thought I was on the up and up. So by the 4th day I should have been all better. But it was as if I took 2 jumps forward and 4 jumps back. I felt horrible all over again and I didn’t want to do or eat anything. I pushed myself to enjoy since it was my last full day with the whole family. I got pretty upset at the end but I tried my hardest to just enjoy the last few hours of being together.
The final day of our Alaska Adventure came and Coal and Charlie with their two kids took off for the airport at early o’clock. On a lucky coin toss my boyfriend and I had a flight leaving at 11:30 PM Alaska time. Oooh joy!!! I had sworn that when I bought the tickets it said 11:30 AM, but what can you do? We just hung around until it was time to leave.
It was a long day of travels once more and the significant other and I were thoroughly exhausted by the end of it. We arrived at home by late afternoon on Monday. I am pretty much all better. My kitten was thrilled to see me. I am happy to be home. My head has been cleared and I hope to have a new view on a few situations. My next blog will be all my photos from our trip with a few more details I spared in this long book I just wrote. So stick around and enjoy!


About KatONeillPhoto

The fun-sized version of a photographer
This entry was posted in Portraits, Random Shoots, Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Wedding, photos of Alaska, Great Gatsby Gala, oh my!

  1. Verge says:

    holy crap! you guys were away for a week?? I didn’t even notice. LOL. seriously, that post rivaled some of mine in length. nice to see you back in the saddle. thanks for the gifts!

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