How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XVII: Last Song

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, Part XIV, Part XV, and Part XVI. Where did we leave off last? Oh, boy! Talkeetna! We spent 24 hours there, making lemonade out of lemons, by ziplining after our Denali Flight Tour dreams were all squashed by the weather. We had a locals’ dinner, a tourists’ dessert, and then went looking fruitlessly for moose, but fruitfully for adventure – like abandoned earth stations and tales of severed moose heads. Sometimes I have something so deep-rooted and burrowed that I want to say, but I don’t know how to say it. I’ll let Eddie Money say it, but pretend it’s me.

I may not have his obvious charisma, but this is about more than Talkeetna. It’s the whole thing. It’s the whole life. It’s dreams and magic and little girl wishes. There’s nothing I can say to make you understand, but it’s ok. I imagine you get it anyway. It’s about that hollowed out feeling from things beginning and ending. And how every ending is a beginning, and every beginning is an ending. It’s about how nothing is ever as it seems, or how you imagined it when you wanted it for SO LONG. That’s ok, too. Sometimes the reality is even better. Achier. Breakier. Heartier. It has grooves & heights. Peaks & dips.

It can knock you off your feet, and make you lightheaded and dizzy.

Now bear with me, because this post could easily be two posts, as it is two or more stories, and I’m even adding two songs for you. We woke up on our last day at Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B and went to the main house for breakfast. It was awesome to sit with other guests and talk about Alaska land, Denali, and bull moose. There was spotty WiFi but I remember taking a shower and then making a video for work out there in the wilderness. I was even wearing a lumberjack shirt. During checkout, Bill suggested we go back to Anchorage through Hatcher Pass, therefore bypassing Wasilla – easily the ONE place in Alaska I wasn’t completely captivated by – but we were only on the main road once. I’m certain there’s beauty there.

Hatcher Pass wasn’t shabby, though! It was an old road for the gold miners! So cool! #TheMoreYouKnow

It was foggy and drizzly, with cold wind gusts. We went to check out a lodge on a mountain out there – boasting warm soup and awesome views – but it was closed! I didn’t take a lot of photos, other than the ones above. It was hard conditions for it and I was tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes the world is almost too beautiful? Magical and barely touched – like a watercolor. It was like that, but also cold, rainy, and windy. I was numbed over because of all the beauty and emotions.

I wouldn’t kick this view out of bed:

Our flight was a red-eye, so we had the whole day to explore. We headed to Anchorage – and had dinner plans later with Erika and Steve. Remember them from the beginning of the story? They’re our family and they had given us our first moose, first soup, and first warm bed in Alaska nine days previously. It was probably around late afternoon now, and I had to tackle Anchorage’s WiFi for a blog post first. Yes, even on vacation, but it was only one or two! So I went to a McDonald’s while Cassidy decided to go back to Eagle River to explore the visitors center. Well, while I smelled french fries I didn’t ever intend to eat, he was seeing what he thought might be his last moose of Alaska. We all know smartphones don’t zoom in so well:

Holy cow, though! Not cow. Holy bull! He did a solo hike and saw his second bull moose of all time on a secluded bog. In Alaska. MAN. And it was his favorite moose encounter of the whole trip, and maybe of forever, although we saw our first moose in the wild together in 2004. She might have favorites rights for all time? I don’t know, though. What makes me happy is that Cassidy’s favorite moose encounter actually became his SECOND favorite. That’s right. With only a few hours to spare left before our flight, we somehow topped that together. He picked me up from the dreadfully WiFi-ed McDonald’s and we went back to Powerline Pass. We weren’t there long, because of dinner reservations, but can we say worth it?

Worth it.

Then we rounded a bend, with minutes to spare, and Cassidy said, “Oh, hello!” There was our last bull moose of the trip!

That looks close, right? It was. I was balking a bit, and I went to warn two incoming runners about the moose so they’d change their course. They saw the look on my face and said, “Don’t worry! Anchorage moose are different from the ones outside the city. They have more tolerance for people coming close to them.” That does NOT mean I recommend getting close.

He looked at us curiously, but mostly minded his own business. I had the luxury of distance, although this is NOT my zoom lens. This is just a 50mm. My rented zoom was already packed in my suitcase, and ready to be checked at the airport.

I had to go black and white for at least one!

Oh my. Well that’s it for moose! We made it to our dinner reservation just on time, and guess what I ordered? That’s right. Salmon. We showed Erika and Steve all of Cassidy’s pictures and told our stories in chronological order. Then, the airport:

I took that same photo on our first day there – after landing at night – and I felt like I had grown so much in nine days. The things I had seen, and not seen. The things I had done, and not done. I felt like something inside me had been sleeping.

We boarded the plane and had someone sitting in between us, which seemed fitting. It was dark and I leaned my head on the cold window, thinking of everything I wish. I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I could break through a shutdown. I wish I could do it all over. I wish I could feel it all over. I wish I could feel.. in general.. when sometimes I can’t touch that raw part of myself. It’s frozen over. Our plane’s satellite radio kept playing one song, and these days, I can’t listen to the song much.

Whenever I take a deep, altering trip, there’s always one song that makes me think of it the most. It’s almost a treat to revisit it in small doses, and reopen the heart and sound waves – to let it all come back rushing towards and through me.

I’m back there now. I’m forever there, in the middle of dreams dying and coming alive. Ending and beginning. They all meet in the middle. I’ll never forget that silent and endless night in the sky – and the brightness I found on the other side.

It was always leading me here:

*Endnote – my mother-in-law took that picture, bringing our kids to meet us in the middle of a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA, after ten days apart. The photo is 100% candid – showing our sleeplessness, sweat, tears, and LOVE. Thank you for reading.

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48 Comments

  1. THAT PICTURE AT THE END!!!!!

    *Sniff*

    beautiful. Those candid moments are the best, eh? So SO perfect.

    Love your moose shirt. And your imagery about watercolors and not always being able to touch those raw parts of ourselves. I get that. I do.

    XOXO

  2. I love that last picture of all of you back together. I think that’s the general consensus right? I also think that bull moose just knew he had to be there waiting for you!

    1. Total general consensus! And I love it.
      I always imagine that the moose fangirl me, the way I fangirl them. But there’s only one of me so it’s even more special!

  3. What an awesome post! I love so many things about it – those amazing field pictures, that incredible moose video and the adorable welcome home photo! That moose looks so calm and large, cool that he let you get so close!

    1. He was a total celebrity moose. A lot of the ones in Anchorage city limits are known by locals. They have names! Even when they shed their antlers, they grow them back and people still know who they are. I love that.

  4. I’m so sad your trip is over, and I wasn’t even there! That last moose clearly came to wish you goodbye – and to tell you to come back again. Seriously, Tamara, you’ve made me want to go to Alaska. And I know you will be back as well. P.S. The picture with your kids – beautiful!

    1. Aw, thank you SO MUCH. It was such a roller coaster of emotions to go and come back, and dream of it often. I hope you do go! It seems a lot easier for you than me! Nine hour flight..

  5. Amazing. I have to go there now. I love what you said about arriving as one person and leaving as another. That’s what travel is all about, isn’t it? Growth, change, expansion.

  6. What a beautiful adventure you two had!!!

    I guess with enough exposure to nice people, even moose get tamer. Reminds me of the deer in Big Sur and how comfortable they were with people.

    1. I haven’t been to Big Sur but I remember a place in northern Cali where the friendliness of the deer surprised me! Maybe it was Pt. Reyes. Yes, I think so!

  7. Damn girl. The Alaska Board or tourism needs to hire YOU!. The pictures, once again are amazing. And the moose?!?!?! Magical!. And I often take ed eyes when I’m out west, just to get myself an extra day:)!

  8. Can we take a minute to appreciate that you used Eddie Money in this post?
    …..
    OK
    I love Eddie.
    I’ve seen him in concert two or three times…I was drunk each time and so was he. Like he almost fell off of the stage. Good times.
    Anyways, I love the both of you and your love for each other just oozes…sigh…I mean good ooze. Not like gross ooze…you get me and my awkward choice of words. xoxo

    1. I met Eddie Money!!!
      He was.. drunk.. but so charming. My sister had a work event with him, and she said to him, “You have to meet my sister!” It was more like, “Sister, you have to meet Eddie Money!”

      Ah… Eddie.

      Your love for each other inspires me daily! You and Shawn. TLF. Did you ever write that on a yearbook? (True Love Forever, lest you think it means something dirty)

  9. AW!!! I think that my favorite picture of all time is that last one. Oh my HEART the LOVE!!!!

    Tamara, I’m SO HAPPY you had this incredible experience… oh so much to take in, digest, process, and FEEL in every single moment on this adventure. I’m SO PROUD of your courage and strength and reach for grabbing these opportunities to truly seek new things and expand your life in such PROFOUND ways. You have brought us all on your journey and we EXPERIENCED them WITH YOU because of your gift of sharing each detail in its fullest most authentic way. Thank you. For opening up your heart and your life so we all can grow and embrace it all with you. <3

    1. I think.. me too! And I look awful in it, but full of love. I’m still a little shell-shocked from leaving the kids for ten days. I hope I can do it again easily! We clearly missed each other.

      I’m so happy all of you came on my journey with me! I can’t wait for the next one for any of us!
      XOXO

  10. I would definitely be afraid to run past a moose that big. That’s incredible though that neither the moose or the locals aren’t afraid. Love the reunion photo!!!

    1. I think the locals are more afraid of moose outside the city, but I did see a bunch of them turn and go the other way! I must have looked like a dumb tourist.

  11. Aww, this is such an emotional post for me. It’s like feeling how it felt like when I was also on my way home from my first trip abroad. It was just my first so another trip could probably still top that but still, it was a special one.

    So glad you got to see a moose before you left.. and somehow got closer to it too. The feeling of seeing your kids after so many days is priceless. It’s the feeling of home. ♥

    1. I knew you’d understand it, if not the most, close to it!! It’s so hard to say goodbye to a journey, but I’m thankful I had it. I was letting it linger for awhile with these posts!

      Nothing like going home again, though.

  12. That family photo! ALL THE HEARTS! I love it so much! I love your tee. I think you have seen enough moose for the both of us, lol

  13. Who knew that city moose and country moose had such different attitudes. I would have been freaked out to be that close to a wild animal, too. I’m glad it minded its own business and you’re here to tell the tale 🙂

  14. I’m such a sucker… I totally teared up seeing the last picture.
    WOW!! The moose!
    All your pictures are beautiful as usual. I’m so glad you and your honey got to take this trip and came home safely to your beautiful babies.
    xo

  15. He was soooo close!! What a beautiful ending to just the most incredible trip. I don’t even know you guys personally and yet my heart is full and happy for both of you. what a memory. xx

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