How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part VIII: Outside Over There

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, and Part VII. Where did we leave off last? I ogled a moose like mad at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, meditated with bears, and then had Cassidy pull the trigger on booking a dog sledding adventure. On a glacier. And it would maybe make me get over my lifelong small plane phobia. No guarantees on that one, though. There’s more than one way up a mountain.

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There are places of magic here on earth, aren’t there? I tell Scarlet bedtime stories about islands of wild ponies – where they greet you in the parking lots and traipse around sandy beaches. This is true. There are places where moose outnumber humans, 3 to 1, and cross the road in front of you on a gray night – looking woefully back at you like Eeyore. There are places of green flashes of light as the sun ducks behind the ocean and tucks itself into bed. There are places where the sidewalk ends, and the stairway to heaven begins. There are clouds that look like cartoon giraffes, and trees you can drive your car through. There’s a place you can go at dusk, against a deep, wide canyon, and a bull elk will step out next to your car – looking no less than an anime character of magic – his antlers reaching the stars. Don’t get me started on rainbows & meteors.

And love. Some magic goes beyond earth, I’m certain.

(Old 35mm from somewhere out west – 2006ish)

Imagine a glacier full of sled dogs. Imagine a litter of sled dog puppies. Imagine adventure and excitement, and wearing snow socks and gloves in August. Imagine a different world, up in a mountain – tucked away from Wi-Fi. Hidden from your reality.

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That’s what I only imagined, at first. It was maybe a 20 minute ride from the conservation center to Alpine Air Alaska, Inc. and we got there early. We could use the bathroom for the last chance on land (doesn’t that make you have to pee already?) and we could have some snacks. I could pace around the parking lot and walk off my small plane phobia. Have I ever told you about my small plane phobia? It’s totally real. It’s a mixture of a fear-based early childhood, due to obvious reasons, combined with a hearty dose of watching La Bamba at a young age, and twisted around with the fact that I have known quite a few people who have died in small planes, or just crashed. Alaska is the place to meet a small plane phobia head-on, right?

We’ll get to that.

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We got all geared up for bright reflections, cold snow, and what I later found out – dog stuff – and found out there were no small plane phobias to conquer today. Aw, shucks. I actually like beating fears and phobias, but oh well. Helicopters!

I don’t have a helicopter fear or phobia. I HAD a fear of them, but I beat that in 2003.

There were seven of us going up, so we watched the helicopter go up and come back twice. I have slight gravity problems when I’m nervous. I don’t trust myself to stand. This is only a two-year-old thing, so I’m still learning it. Sometimes it’s hard to crane your neck and watch the sky when the whole world feels like it’s swaying. You know that feeling? Maybe I hope you don’t. Maybe I hope you do. The camera grounds me so much. So does the ground. It grounds me. (go figure) So we went past the line where it’s safe to stand and I asked if I could sit. The employee waiting with us told us no one had ever asked her that, or done it, so we all sat together. Once again, it’s nice to be a pioneer in Alaska. If I’m to be remembered for ordering two types of ice cream at a beer lodge off the edge of the planet, or for sitting while waiting for a helicopter to take me up into the sky to an island of wild ponies – or sled dog puppies – well consider me memorable. It was a nice sit and wait. Twice.

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Finally it was our turn. Cassidy sat up front with the pilot. I wish I remembered his name! He was young and awesome and told us what me might see down there. I put on my headphones and my voice sounded so tinny and funny in my ears.

All it really said was, “Ohhh..” and “Ahhh.”

Maybe I said, “Do you ever see moose down there?” (yes) And, “How do you get the world to spin a little like that?”

Landing was umm.. awesome. Luckily Cassidy had the foresight to make this video:

Punch Bowl Glacier is a giant snowfield on top of hundreds of feet of ice, 3200 feet above sea level. The other members of our tour group were waiting for us, as well as staff members. We were instantly greeted by our sled dog guide – Mariana. I hope I spelled that right. I found out later she was only 19, but she’s one of those young women who has lived a lot of different lives in different places. She was comforting, kind and funny. I was a little queasy at this point – NOT from the helicopter ride – but from catching my breath after all those views and those soaring peaks and valleys. Those dips and sways.

I focused on the dogs to meet my breath again. There’s Hog Heaven and there’s Dog Heaven.

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This girl (Malamute, while others are Alaskan Husky mixes) was just what the doctor ordered.

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And I know some of you request Cassidy panorama photos. He didn’t disappoint:

Next up, we take off in ways I never imagined. Sitting on the sled. Standing on the sled. Watching dog butts for miles. Hearing their squealy excitement. Meeting tiny, mewing puppies. Being in pictures. Not being able to feel my feet in August.

See ya SOON!

Part IX


Comments

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part VIII: Outside Over There — 39 Comments

  1. Is this real… could I be the first to comment? WOW!
    Umm… now I feel all sorts of pressure. 😀

    Once again your pictures have blown me away! And thank you Cassidy for sharing the video. 🙂
    Tamara, you are a fear fighting ninja!! I was getting all nervous putting myself in your shoes. I sure hope I could fight off my fears if I ever had the opportunity to face ’em in such beauty. 🙂 Cheers to battling fears and making dreams come true!!
    XOXO

    • Yay for first!! You did it perfectly.
      The trip was all kinds of weird nerves and battles. I can’t wait for you to keep reading them! Of course, I have to write them first..
      XOXO

  2. Once again you truly didn’t disappoint. Oh and I am sharing a little secret here, I have never been on a helicopter ever, but your video and pics allowed me to live through your experience here at the very least! 🙂

    • They do sleep in those hut things!
      I totally get it about the bladder thing. We were in those situations quite a bit and it was all ok luckily. I do think about the alternative, though. I have a nervous stomach. Not cool!

  3. I have small plane phobia too and won’t go on on if I can help it. But helicopters are cool! Love your photos and the Huskies! Looks like you had an amazing time!

  4. I’m actually more scared of helicopters than small planes, but that’s another story. One of my dreams is to go on a dog sled trip. Aren’t they beautiful?

  5. I can identify with that feeling you described — when you crane your neck up and it feels like the world is swaying. I remember feeling that way looking up at the Statue of Liberty years ago.
    That video! I like how the dogs are like “Whatever, a helicopter is flying right to us, no biggie.”

    • Thank you for that! I think for me it’s an anxiety thing, although I think it could be many things – inner ear things, moving too fast, etc. Or just being totally stunned! Like the Statue of Liberty!!

  6. Another brilliant Alaska post, Tamara! The video was great and captured the excitement you must’ve been feeling in that moment. The dogs…wow, aren’t they beautiful? I’ve pinned your first few images to my Travel Dreams Pinterest board 🙂 Beautiful photos as always. I’m thinking this Honeymoon is going to end up with a baby of some kind—human, canine or moose 😀 So much love!

    • Ah, thank you! I think I have a Travel Dreams Pinterest board too! I can’t wait for the next part!
      There aren’t any babies, I swear! I think I would have been ok with any kind of baby, to be honest, but most are unlikely at best!

  7. Thanks for sharing the video of the landing that was beautiful. As soon as I saw the dogs it reminded me of the story Balto (it was a book that we read for my son’s 1st grade lessons).

  8. Wow that is all pretty epic. Those sweet dogs, Can I take all of them home? We are kind of obsessed with huskies around here and the kids are already beginning to beg for us to make one a part of our family.

    • Yes, you can! In fact, stay tuned for my post (today, I hope??) because you see how cute these dogs are? Wait until you see them when they’re a week old.
      Don’t show your kids my post!

  9. I miss my husky so much. crying. 🙁
    what a wonderful adventure. I’m asking for a dog for Christmas, that’s it – just gimme him Santa I’ve been good for years.

    • I know. I get it. We had a husky too.
      Scarlet is getting a husky puppy for her 8th birthday, according to Scarlet. And Cassidy. I’ll compromise (maybe) with a mini husky or husky mix. But they are a tough job!

  10. AMAZING. WOW WOW WOW!! How cold was it there? And those dogs… they absolutely stole the show on this one Tamara! Didn’t you want to take one home?

    I’m not sure I could pull off the helicopter… I’m terrified of heights- I wasn’t when I was younger, and didn’t even know I was until I took my nephew to a water park years ago, and as I was walking him up the stairs- I literally froze. I told him to go on ahead… and I realized I was paralyzed with fear. Like I could NOT take another step. It took me an hour to get down… while people kept pushing around me. I talked my way down- one agonizing terrifying step at a time. My poor nephew was looking for me for an HOUR.

    Yeah. NO more heights.

    • It wasn’t that cold. Maybe 50 or so? But my feet were cold because of standing on the snow! It was like being at the glacier in 65 degrees but I got chills if I touched the ice. Which I did.. by falling.. hard.
      What a crazy story about developing a fear of heights as an adult!!
      You are brave! But don’t read my ziplining part of this…

  11. These are breathtaking, Tamara. I admire you for getting on the helicopter. I had a chance to hop on a helicopter for an aerial view of NYC, but chickened out. Heights terrify me! Kudos to you.

    • Ooh, a NYC tour would be cool. I get it, though. I have zero fear of heights, but probably only because I have such fears of so many other things. And as a photographer, the fear of heights would be dreadful!

  12. I love these posts Tamara. Thanks for sharing them. I too have small plane phobia, but also helicopter phobia, si I believe I would have been SOL😎. I can’t believe that was in August. Crazy. You are brave Momma!

  13. Oh my goodness Tamara! I am loving those photos and so jealous now because I want to do that. I want to ride in a helicopter over Alaska and take in the sights. BTW that photo of Cassidy and the husky is to die for. He reminds me of our old dog Shadow.

  14. So much love for this adventure!! It’s indeed like a dream.. a dream come true! It must be breathtaking up there. It looks so much like I’ve seen in movies. ♥

  15. Wow. I told Hubs I’d like to dogsled one day – but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Between my leg and my intense dislike of cold weather…

    • Those could be problems. I think there are ways to do it when it’s warm. Honestly. This was August so it wasn’t cold. My feet got cold but the air wasn’t. It was so strange.

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