How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XV: ADVENTURE!

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, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII and Part XIV. Where did we leave off last? I was frozen to the core – overwhelmed, overstimulated, scared, and experiencing a marital big chill. We left Seward for Anchorage, stayed for an hour or so, and then we wandered into Talkeetna and had a great dinner at the brewery. We prepared for some sort of adventure.

adventure

Ack, that was a spoiler!

We woke up to another overcast day, but it’s really about conditions around Denali. Talkeetna is about 100 miles from Denali and DOES have mountain views.. on a clear day, of course. In fact, we heard about a couple who went to Denali for seven years in a row, and only actually SAW the mountain on the seventh year. On the seventh year, they rested, because six years of fog or clouds or Mordor or whatever else might ruin your visibility was present. We did not see the mountain even once!

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

After we got dressed, we had a hot breakfast at our Inn – Swiss Alaska Inn. Cassidy called the two biggest flight companies to get flight tours to Denali. No one was flying! It was so sad. Here I was WILLING to confront my small plane phobia.. like five times now.. (?) and the weather wasn’t allowing for it. I was not backing down once. I actually wanted to circle a giant, snowy mountain by small plane. I wanted to dip and soar. I didn’t even care. It’s Denali. In my mind’s eye, you could see moose roaming around and around, two by two, circling up a mountain. I don’t care that it wasn’t based on reality, mostly, but I was WILLING. Let it be said. The record states. I was ALL IN and ready to rock that small plane. Or NOT rock it! Yikes.

adventure

I was still very much stuck inside my head. Cassidy was too. We were like abandoned satellites in an empty station – both calling out to nothing? Message not received? Message not going out. Does this analogy make any sense at all? It might soon.

Is anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me..

So I did what any broken satellite would do. I walked into Denali Zipline Tours and decided to see if they were going out on this wettish, overcast day. (I was secretly hoping not) What’s that? They WERE! And there’s a three hour canopy tour over a boreal forest leaving in just 30 minutes? Well, ok. Here’s my credit card and my life insurance policy. I’ll sign a waiver, have a snack, go to the bathroom before I can’t anymore (that’s for you, Kenya – no bathrooms on the tops of forests), and there’s no turning back. Do not even pass GO! and collect your $300 back. This is happening. I don’t even care if you feel sick!

Or if you feel like an abandoned satellite station.

I was wearing LulaRoe leggings I had gotten for my sister, but hadn’t given her yet. They made me feel brave. She’s a ziplining kind of gal. We were in a group with eight people and two guides. One of the women (lovely) on our tour had been a zipline INSTRUCTOR in another country, and she was nervous! I guess it’s the whole boreal forest thing? We were promised a three hour canopy tour with nine exciting zips, panoramic Denali views, and woodland aerial walkways. I will say they delivered, and it’s not their fault we couldn’t see Denali. We could at least see where it should have been on a clear day.

(Remind me to tell you one day about when we tried to see Mt. Rushmore? THAT led to an interesting chain of events.)

So we got a few lessons on the ground, and made our way up, up, and up. Everyone was nervous, and that was sobering and humbling and connecting. We knew we were safe at all times, and I’m not afraid of heights even a little, but the sights of the parking lot swirling lower and lower, made me a little light-headed. I was nervous but also not nervous, because I just wanted to FEEL, and not like a broken radio or satellite, so it both repelled and propelled me. There was some rappelling too!

Clearly, I like words.

I felt.. EXACTLY LIKE THIS (the photo of me, and not Cassidy):

The zips got longer and higher.

For all of us, the ones over concrete or parking lots seemed a lot worse than the ones over.. just forest.. or water. Even though these weren’t the highest or fastest zips, I think they freaked us out more. Also, we were still newbies then.

I think we were thawing towards each other? I know I was internally. (burning up, baby) There was something about the relief and vulnerability. I’m not saying that the great chills can’t lead to scarring, but I was really happy to be with him.

I liked the zips better than the aerial walkways (which were still scary) and definitely better than the rappels, although I obviously survived all that. I think each step was another step outside my comfort zone. I can’t complain there!

I paid for the photo package, which was just phone photos, but it’s SO WORTH IT. I get to see the looks of fear and relief on my face! And relive all the magic – like this little place which surely looks to NEED moose by it, right?

Rappels scared me, like I said, but I took it like a champ! I didn’t die even once on my way down the tree.

Mountain Man.

Yay! No one died even once!

One of our fearless leaders – I wish I remembered their names! One was potentially Megan. They rocked!

Here we all are, not dying even once again.

You can always find me, right? I wore neon pink on purpose.

From Denail Zip Tours website:

“The final and longest zip of the tour will span close to 600 feet – with most of the ride suspended over “Reflection Pond” – landing on the final platform six feet off the ground with an easy stair exit and a short drive back to downtown Talkeetna.”

You had to take the time to look down at the water. In some of the zips, you don’t have that time. This one is long and not even the fastest – it’s so peaceful. I think the photo of me was too blurry, but we have lots to look at.

What we didn’t know, because the zip was so long that you couldn’t see the end, was that there was an employee at the end waiting to drive us the three miles back to town. He also held up scorecards on our landings. I got an 8.5! Cassidy got a 10.

My final advice? Do it. Pay for the photos – it’s only a bit more money – but you’re paying for the memories, the chance of a life (or death)time, and the deep feelings of accomplishment and relief when you finally get on the ground again.

Wear comfy pants & SHOES! “Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.” Name that reference. I’m looking at you, Charlotte.

I think my 8.5 score was slightly inflated because of my neon pink outfit making me easy to spot.

Next up – well the magic is never over. Think of funny waitresses accidentally swearing in front of patrons. Dessert at the ritziest part of town. Abandoned satellites, moose heads in the streets, Hatcher Pass, magic, and more magic!

See ya SOON!

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XIV: The Big Chill

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, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII and Part XIII. Where did we leave off last? After two canceled bear expeditions, we said goodbye to Homer, Alaska and set sail for Seward. We didn’t see the sun. We didn’t see otters. We were booked on a 4-5 hour glacier cruise that I was having doubts about, after hearing that half of the previous day’s ship had lost their lunch.

Alaska

Boy, sometimes I don’t scare easily. Like snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. Bull moose breathing near my neck, and closed bear paths. Then I hear about half of a boat barfing on themselves or overboard and I think, “No.” The thought was.. terrible. Even the chanciest chance of a lifetime can be spoiled by multiple barfers. Heck, I can be ruined by one barfer. Adult barfers are the worst. Being on boats gives me claustrophobia more than small planes and elevators. I may never go on a cruise. That’s ok. I DID go on a five hour boat ride in California, seeing whales, dolphins, and one shark, and no one lost their lunch. I did get the worst sunburn of my life, though. Mixed with windburn, I had to take steroid pills. Why are we talking about barf and steroids?? Let’s go back to the beginning.. of Day Six in Seward, Alaska. We woke up and it was gloomy.

Alaska

We were gloomy.

Alaska(Juniper wasn’t gloomy. Our friend/catsitter sent this to us during this gloomy morning.)

I’m gloomy that I’m using photos from previous posts because there was a 2-3 day period in Alaska in which I didn’t reach for my camera at all. I’m even checking my phone for photos I may have missed uploading. What the what? So lonely.

I’m so gloomy and lonely that I’m using YouTube videos where pictures would be if I had, I don’t know, TAKEN them. I’m telling you I have regrets, my friend. I even (SPOILER) planned my last Alaska post to be called, “I Wish” or “I Wanna Go Back.” The “I Wish” is the darker version of what I wished I had done differently, instead of self-loathing. The “I Wanna Go Back” will be just about the wonder of Alaska and how I think about it daily and told Cassidy’s boss on Friday night that I’m going back. It’s true. I am. Enough about barfing, steroids, and spoilers, though. Don’t you want to know what happened?

I whiffed it. A ball sailed smoothly to me and I whiffed it.



I lost over $300. I couldn’t go on the boat. I just couldn’t. It was so dark and overcast. Visibility would be bad. Barfers would be worse. I whiffed it and I thought Cassidy hated me for it and I self-loathed and we didn’t talk for an entire day or two. I think about rainbows and magic and bean soup and serendipity and we had had it a day or three before this. Was the spell broken? Was the trip over. A little & NO. There was magic left yet. We checked out of Alaskan Wish Lodging & Art Studio.

We asked Carol for a breakfast recommendation and were told to try Le Barn Appétit Inn & Creperie. This definitely begs to answer the question, “What on earth is this place? And how on earth to explain it?” Yvon and Janet were sitting there waiting for us, even though they had no idea we were coming. Yvon was behind the stove. He’s Belgian, slightly hard of hearing, over 80 (or 800) years-old, and astonishingly awesome. He frowned when I wanted pork sausage instead of reindeer (can’t do it, Rudolph!) but he smiled again when I wanted mustard with my cheese and sausage and whatever else was in there. Magic. Janet is from New Mexico, and we bonded over losing parents in front of us as children, delayed/instant reactions to grief, and seeing things with spirituality. Cassidy and I got our own savory crepes (he wanted reindeer), and then split a dessert one.

There was a friendly reindeer outside too.

See why I couldn’t eat reindeer sausage?

I urge you to go there. There’s nothing I can do to explain the smells and tastes and vibes. Some things can only be experienced. I can write my heart out, and sometimes even effectively, but you just have to go there. It might have been the most magic I’d see in Alaska. It’s a contender. Sometimes it’s not northern lights or flying above clouds. Sometimes it’s the grand love between two aging, affectionate, and bickering creperie owners. You can quote me on that one. Print it up!

After that special kind of earth magic, we got out of Dodge. I really don’t remember much of the way back. We were aimless and barely talking. We were cold inside and outside. I know we were thinking about the Denali area/scenery, but we wound up back in Anchorage for a few hours. We headed to Kincaid Park and to a special trail. I was looking for moose. I ALWAYS am.

We found this view by the airport instead.

I also saw a man there with two sled dogs pulling his bicycle! Only in Alaska. He wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Eventually we mustered up enough conversation to decide to head to Talkeetna. Would we see Denali? We had no idea about anything, weather or mood-wise. Talkeetna was maybe two hours from Anchorage. We said goodbye to Anchorage again.

Driving into Talkeetna was enough to brighten anyone’s spirits. It was festive and fun – full of restaurants and shops. We found a room for one night at Swiss Alaska Inn – the manager there was AWESOME – and then went to dinner. Maybe dinner was first. I don’t know. All I know is.. Talkeetna! What a cool place! I’m going back for the northern lights and the Mexican.

One day.

Alaska

For dinner we had planned to go to Wildflower Cafe, but ran into people heading out as we were heading in – and the guy said, “If you have a choice, don’t go there.” We did have a choice. We don’t like bad service. So, we made another decision:

Next up – We still have a little magic left. What am I talking about? We have a LOT of magic left yet. Wild adventures await. My whole trip goal was to get out of my comfort zone/footsteps at least one more time. Guess what? I DID! I do!

See ya SOON!

Part XV