A LOVE FOR THE AGES
The honeymoon. A blissful expedition that I will go into full detail chronicling the awe inspiring moments, and the occurrences that words won't come close to capturing in terms of scope. They are plentiful so let's begin.
PART 1: THE FIRST MORNING & TRIP TO THE FROZEN - ARCTIC SANCTUARY
We rose the morning after our wedding. The feel of confetti and bubbles still reverberating inside the corners of my mind.
The sunlight had just reached the outskirts of the blinds and I glanced over to look at my new, pristine bride. This moment overwhelmed me to the point that I was gasping for breath and had to turn away as to not lend fear to her already haphazard emotions riding high on the circumference of brand new nuptials.
She smiled and held me close and thankfully that latch stopped me from toppling over the mattress all together. I was in a zen state. I couldn't move and didn't want to.
We eventually rose, grabbed our wardrobe and bags and proceeded to head for the front door, flicking off lights on the way.
Outside, the faint smell of summer still lingered. It was coming to a close and we were on our way to retreat to a place that had no obvious resemblance to the current season. We were all the better for it.
The thin dew splashed against our shins as we waddled through the front stoop and waited for our ride to the airport. The distant sound of my friend's exhaust already rattling the leaves. Slade was on time for a change and that momentary quiet and reflection has ceased in an instant.
He hopped down, loaded our things in the bed and we climbed inside the cab. The windows being in the usual cracked position. The ride was going to be moderately chilly and I looked forward to it. That and the blunt noise of the truck drowning out all sound so I could keep my focus on my wife.
I disappeared inside her eyes and before I knew it, we were in front of Will Rogers International Airport. We said our goodbyes and exchanged goofy grins and inside jokes. We headed to the terminal, grabbed some steaming java and waited for that first of three planes to begin our journey.
I was moving anxiously inside a bookstore as we waited for our flight. Lisa seemed to move without a care in the world. Like she has practiced in this specific situation. I admired but also envied that. Her grace was all over the linoleum. We were finally summoned and we boarded. The rush off the tarmac was instant as we sliced through the clouds without a trace. That moment breezed by for two more layovers until, without warning, we had landed in Alaska. Still reeling from the sight in the eye view mirror as we touched down.
I called a cab as my wife snuggled inside near the baggage claim. Tired as she was, her glow never faded -- like she had an invisible shield blocking her complexion from the weariness of the day. I remained outside. My breath becoming clouds across the black landscape. I paced back and forth waiting for our ride, and waiting for me to wake up for what I assumed was a somber dream. That never happened and we were on our way to the room and we had rented.
We finally found the high house laying on the foundation of what seemed like a floating cliff. We headed to the top level of the house we had booked through Airbnb and looked through the window that seemed to take up one whole side of the room. The view gave the illusion that we were in fact inside a snow globe. Gazing out to a world that would topple with snow if only with a good shake of the wrist. We finally retreated to bed and took a hold of the sleep that had been building since the sight of the first new morning of marriage.
PART 2: EXPLORING THE LAST FRONTIER
CH. 1 - TONGASS NATIONAL RAINFOREST - MENDENHALL GLACIER
We awoke on the the 19th of September. Two days after our wedding and we were itching to scale what seemed like a different country that laid out before us. Jumping in the rental car, I glanced out the rear view mirror and noticed trees the size of wood giants stretching out as far as the eye could see. It was encompassing like being smack dab in the midst of a fairy tale.
We crossed the foggy bridge and parked downtown. With forty minutes left until the hike we'd booked, we wanted to take in the local colors and taste the pure liquid of a hometown brew. Coffee that could spark imagination. Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. carried enough of those possibilities. The drinks went to easy and keen. We sat next to a window and I captured a candid shot of my wife just being there. Those are my favorite moments.
Our time was up and we found the bus transporting us to our first real exertion. The ride was riveting. Seeing everything in real light and time gives your perspective a jolt. I basked in that trip. Our guide providing extensive trivia and quotes from explorers that have circled this great state. Time seemed to stand still inside those leather seats and yet, we were somehow moving forward.
We reached our destination and it was clear and brooding. The sun was mild so coats did not seem like an option. It felt just like you'd want summer to feel if only for a day or two before rising above towering heat. I grabbed her hand as we took our first steps along the trail and eyed the first habitat that did not seem to exist in this world. It protruded with an uncanny familiarity, but seemed new and refreshing.
We kept pace with our guide. Capturing photos as often as our eyes let go of the canvass before us. Inhaling, froze your lungs with pure oxygen like the atmosphere had no filter and anything breathed in was essentially life. I had never felt my chest so cool.
Our hike lasted over 6 miles and to call the terrain breathtaking would be a sub par notion. It was exquisite by every sense of the word. We were living inside a sketched postcard that didn't seem to be grazed by human hands. We had reached the final plateau of the summit. A trio of ladders leading to the top came at eye level for my wife draining the remainder of her fresh energy she had stored just to find full grasp of the railing. We broke through the limitless clearing and there it was. Paradise.
Bald eagles had been providing the symphony for miles. We gripped for life from exhaustion while life grasped at as from the beauty of it all. It brought us to tears and we didn't care to wipe away. We stood staring in what seemed like an eternity. The outskirts of the glacier beaming like crystalized salvation. There were no emotions to conjure or compare. We eventually made our way back to the start and took hold of the remaining dashes of the sunset. This was and is one of the defining moments of our life.
CH. 2 - WHALE WATCHING
The 22nd of September had us reeling on a vessel heading for the ocean. That mopey water blew like it had no other direction to splurge on but our boat. It felt like the death of winter but I reveled in it. We set out in the early afternoon and took the rain with us. We sped along the rapids that seemed to be calm on shore. But now that we've plowed through their currents, they've retaliated, leaving all members of the party to soak in the dusk.
This was an hour trip to mark our spot and catch the clouds. They traced along a murky sky that felt like it hadn't risen in some time. It was a gloomy haven that I felt privileged to be a part of. My wife on the other hand remained in the cabin, taking in the view through glass. That is until the sight of the great beasts we had traveled this far to see.
The school of Orca rose and fell with the tide. Transcending the water like some ink blot blur. The wind cut through our faces as the final remaining photos were snapped at lightning speed. This was a robust test of will, and the determination to have something special framed and mounted on the wall at home.
We had succeeded in our task and returned to the inside of the ship to regain feelings through the course of our bodies. It was a battering exercise that leveled the experience of hitting the gym. We craved that exhaustion though. It made the journey that much more worthwhile and the stories to share that much more thick with chapters. We wouldn't trade them.
PART 3: RECOMMENDATION OF THE BOLDEST STATE AND ALL THE LIVELY DETAILS
My wife Elisa and I have had a unique relationship and journey to get where we are today. Given that she is 27 years my senior and obvious obstacles along the way through our progression to marriage, we wanted a place that was unlike any other. Somewhere unlike the metropolis of Oklahoma City. Somewhere so far that by the time you reach its peak, you're already heading back to where you've started.
We stayed in Juneau from September 18th-25th. It was an incredible experience that we never could have had if it weren't for the possibilities through Traveler's Joy. It changed us and made our bond and marriage more solidified.
The cost of the trip was roughly around $4,000 which is a complete bargain considering how epic and huge you feel at just the feel of being here. Our favored activities consisted of our glacier hike, whale watching and just the vastness of being in a small place that seems so gigantic. To take it in, that's the reason we chose here and why we want to head back.
If you're looking for a cliche spot, or something that is the norm, this is not the destination for you. If you carry tenacity like a cloak and feel that you can't truly live on a vacation unless you push the envelope in terms of strength and overall emotional prowess, I would highly recommend the booming, quaint treasure that is Juneau. It's loaded with a humble downtown that produces great food and brilliant shops. The scenery alone is worth your time. You'll become a poet without even realizing just by being here.