A glacier Instagram photo of mine was commented upon at the end of the day that we “Just went for a little hike today…”. “Just a hike?”, and I replied with the truth… “And an involuntary swim”.
We knew two things for sure when we arrived to Skaftafell National Park. One, that we were going to go to the glacier. And two, that we didn’t want to pay to be part of a restricted glacier walk. We all had virtually brand new hiking boots with vibram soles which obviously wasn’t the same as having spikes on the bottom of your shoes, but how could we go wrong, really? Well, I could walk down a three foot wide crevice with a few thousand dollars of camera gear strapped around my wrist and another couple thousand dollars worth strapped onto my back, take a few steps forward and on my fourth step fall right through the ice below me into the glacial waters. That’s how.
It was almost like I had done this before though, because like a seasoned veteren would have, I caught myself by the elbows on the edge of the crevice, and held myself from plunging underneath probably just a few thousands of tons of ice. And after a couple of really calming thoughts like “I’m really in trouble here” with my legs dangling in glacial water, my elbows the only thing keeping me from drowning, and both girls about 15 feet above me at a 75º angle on the glacier, I pulled myself out with nothing more than a scratch or two on the palm of my hand, and a few waterdrops on my camera lens.
I was going to tell you about sliding around on iced over paths, staircases, sides of a mountain and everything else behind a waterfall before the glacier experience, but it’s just too pathetic in comparison now, so just enjoy the photos and take comfort in the fact I’m here to blog about much more to come.
In a country of so much diversity and so much beauty, it’s hard to know where to begin sharing when you’re back home. But I figure a pretty good place to start is Toronto airport, where the three of us experienced our highest heart rates over the course of the couple weeks. And if you followed us through social media, you’d understand just how extreme that is when you take into consideration our diets of chocolate, Fanta, and every sweet known to man through multiple Icelandic bakeries. And when you combine that with some of the driving conditions and hikes to the tops of waterfalls, it says a lot.
In any case, with the girls on board in jump seats, and myself roughing it up front in business watching the northern lights out the window, we landed in Reykjavik, the worst part of Iceland as Anna called it. We would’ve loved to have gotten out into the countryside a little sooner than we did, but setting the tone for the trip, it was a little bit… weather dependant.
hard to follow up a post of penguins eh? imagine how it felt leaving magdalena island and the thousand plus penguin residents behind. however, if there’s one thing to leave a penguin behind for, it’s a glacier. towering toothpicks of ice the height of our ship, and a sheet of bright blue ice crawling down from the clouds… how do you go wrong? you could have been on any of the previous cruises, that’s how you could go wrong. we had crew tell us this was by far the best weather they’ve seen this glacier in, and it was dark, overcast skies. plus, a few minutes before pulling up, we exited another torrential downpour. but to round the corner of rising fjords, and break through low cloud to see this, to see icebergs floating out at us. there’s no going wrong. but there is, however, going home…
watching a documentary on the world’s biggest cruise ship last night, about disembarkation day, there’s always those few passengers that cling to the ship for as long as they can before having leave. and that was us. sorry, holland america, but when you offer a product second to none, and fill a ship with folks you’ve created life long bonds to, can you blame us for hanging on to the bitter end? i didn’t think so. we were the last ones off. all of that, however, is a little easier to leave behind when you know your next stop is the w santiago, hotel. friends, meet (more) heaven on earth…
i was convinced that after our captain decided to cancel our port of call at the falkland islands because the seas were too rough to dock, that the world, as we knew it, was over. you couldn’t take all the ice of antarctica to make me enough margaritas to feel better. a couple hours of off-roading with a local guide to eventually hit a white sand beach where we would meet three different kinds of penguins, dozens of birds, and sea lions. i don’t think i was unreasonable in my belief that the end of the world may as well have followed the cancellation of port stanley.
wouldn’t you know it though, while my brother and i hammered out our frustrations against each other on the ping pong table, our aunt went straight to the shore excursions desk to book up three of the last five spaces available on the only other penguin tour this season. unless we were going to fly from punta arenas, to antarctica, to spend the winter huddled with the penguins. which i had no problem with, but apparently it’s still pretty expensive, and kind of cold.
we’ve all hit that point somewhere in a day where your cheeks become physically sore and it’s the most painful thing in the world to keep laughing and smiling, and if you’ve never experienced that in your life, well… i’m really sorry, and you should probably come hang out with me more. i can’t begin to describe how amazing this was. it’s a lot like watching the northern lights. you just sort of… stand there, admire them, and laugh because you don’t really know what to say. but i can tell you that i’ve mastered the sounds magellanic penguins make. and i can also tell you that this day started off with my brother throwing a pillow at me at six in the morning to get me up for the sunrise. it was the best sunrise i’ve ever seen in my life. followed by one of the best days i’ve ever had in my life. and now, it’s one of my favourite blog posts. enjoy, friends.
SLIGHT situation? try a low level hostage situation. well it really all depends on how dramatic you want to be, and how deeply you want to read into argentina’s situation with the brits, the falkland islands, and apparently, everything in between the two. literally. talk about getting caught in the middle.
i walked off the ship, took a hundred steps, and went running back onto the ship because someone forgot their monies back in their cabin. so, for the second time in fifteen minutes, i walked off the ship toward town. i fell in love with the place. i mean, really fell in love with the place, even though my iphone and their free wifi at the tourist office were having an elongated disagreement. the town has quirks. streets steeper than everest. flights to the white continent. and the ocean walking distance to the mountains.
ushuaia, coincidently, and uninfluential on my love affair of ushuaia, just happens to be the gateway to antarctica. except we arrived on a sunday, where every office, and every shop were closed. which, as far as getting to antarctica goes, means i would get back on the ship at departure time, still have a job when i got back home, and not be short several thousand dollars. for now, anyway.
not everything was closed this sunday, although they may as well have been – the argentine port authority were there… sort of. as our departure time from port came, and passed, we didn’t move. the only thing moving in the harbour was our captain, standing in the bridge of the ship, pacing. apparently, the argentine government had a letter for us to sign, stating we had not been to the falkland islands. and apparently there was another letter for our captain to sign, stating that along with his country, the netherlands, he believed the falkland islands should be argentinian, not british. well, a few hours late, three to be exact, holland america’s head office sorted something out, and we push away from the dock in ushuaia. late enough to sail through fjords, and past one of the most spectacular glaciers in south america, while it’s pitch black out.
so as easy as it would be to say, “argentina, you lose. i’m done.”, i don’t, because as frustrating, bothersome, and costly as politics can be on travel plans, i know that a real country is not about the government, their policies, or games. a country is just where you and i call home. and there’s a whole lot of amazing you and i’s all over this globe, calling a lot of different places home. all with the same love-fuelled, heart-warming, welcome to our beautiful corner of this planet earth, smile. and for that, ushuaia, argentina, you win.
“CAPE HORN?!? man, i wish i could kick that off my bucket list, that’s a once in a lifetime experience!”
i’m a weather guy. in the same way i’m a turbulence and rough seas guy. for me, there’s nothing better than experiencing the best and most extreme this planet has to offer. and if you’re down around cape horn, you’re probably very similiar. or you’re very, very lost, and you’ll want to get out in a hurry. but it wasn’t that bad, which means if you really tried hard, you could make it to the railing on the top deck against the winds. and it’s not to say the ship didn’t hit significant swells, or list and throw everyone into walls, because it did, but it felt eerily calm knowing the waters we were sailing. in the moment, it was the changing skies from a hail storm to momentary sunshine before another downpour, all in about five minutes, on a continuous cycle, with a landscape you couldn’t dream about that took my breath away. but in the larger picture, it was knowing that i was at the literal end of the earth, and that a few hundred kilometres to our left, was antarctica.
once in a lifetime? bucketlist? yeah, probably… in the same way the aurora borealis were a once in a lifetime opportunity for me too. something i’d go see to say i’ve seen it. hardly. i don’t live that way. i go for the magic of the moment, and the countless moments that take your breath away. and those moments, wont ever just be, once in a lifetime.
travel. when do you stop? when your passport expires, or when your mobility expires? desires. experiences. places and people. they’re all dreams. so when do you stop chasing those dreams? obviously not when your passport starts to get full. when you’re not sure if you’ll be able to get the time off from work? no. because odds are, that’ll sort itself out while you’re walking the walls of a 57,000 ton ship that’s within striking distance of the white continent. for others of us, the hardest part of travel is being stuffed into an aluminum tube for a dozen hours at a time with just 32in infront of you to stretch. but when don’t things work out? like when two people mysteriously walk away from their seats in the exit row, and watching your 6’4″, 210lb brother dart up like a rocket to occupy their now empty seats, making that last 11 hours just a little bit more comfortable.
so where do you begin preparing for a trip to the end of the earth? at home, with both summer and winter in your suitcase, along with everything formal you’d need to fit into a holland america ship. we start in buenos aires, and should have continued into the falkland islands, but when your ship’s captain is more cautious than airport security at the sight of a water bottle, and you throw in some of the roughest waters, deep swells, and high winds in all of the world, the falkland islands fade from your hopes and dreams as fast as they disappear from the bridge’s radar sailing right by them without a tender into shore.
we knew. in fact, it was another driving force behind our (my) desire. wednesday morning, jen and i woke up and scrambled to get downtown early before work because in 48 hours we would be touching down where arctic clothing programs aren’t just a fashion, but a way of life. the forecasted lows hovered around -31 degrees celsius with winds of 20-30 knots a constant over the few nights we’d be outside standing still, creating neck pains you can only understand from personal experience. we both needed to outfit ourselves for winter, and a mid-weight jacket and jeans weren’t going to cut it. unless your name is jason pineau, and you live in yellowknife flying for air tindi. just sayin’, jason.
when we touched down on a snow-packed runway in yellowknife, i felt my heart sink immediately. visibility was maybe two miles, there was blowing snow, and it was overcast at less than a thousand feet. but we were going to see the northern lights. the forecast on my iphone said so. i had eight weather apps on my iphone, and one of them was calling for clear skies in the evening. so i deleted the other seven. i saw what i wanted to see, and we believe it.
well when the dull grey overcast skies started to crack just before twilight, and there were now defined clouds, i jumped up and down in front of jen, pumping my fist telling her ‘i told you! i KNEW IT!’. i was even certain that the sky was cracking so much so that the patches of clear sky were growing a hundred fold with every passing second. and as much as i wanted continue to define my gimp dance on the frozen lake, our tummies were grumbling over the sound of five feet deep ice cracking, so we spent $86 (ask what the market price of arctic char is before you order) on fish & chips at bullocks bistro. and when we came out, ohh, when we came outside again… wait until you see what’s in store next…
jen’s eyelashes froze. as did both of our nose hairs. and we try not to tell the story of the wind blowing snot out of my nose, and onto my jacket which it froze instantaneously to.
The Good Word
a schiphol airport dash with king size mosquito bites
to try to keep from repeating a long winded, twelve paragraph blog post about a flight home from europe – i’ve summed up everything you need to know in this post’s title. not because i’ve ever gotten carried away with details about forty eight or twenty eight hour journeys home before. i think this one fell somewhere in the middle, and if not for the rendezvousing of an american mother & daughter, this would have taken the cake for longest, least enjoyable journey home yet. but fortunately, the good looks of my brother and i with mosquito bites all over our face charmed our seat mates on our rome-amsterdam leg and we were running all the way across schiphol airport to be the last to board our delta 767, partly home, to seattle.
see, having lived with my brother for a few years when i was younger – i learnt quickly that he doesn’t sleep unless he has a window, or an entire door open as the case may have been. apparently, it had slipped his mind it was the middle of summer and mosquitos were at their most populated state on the most expensive street in the entire city of rome – via vittorio veneto. and so, after surrounding the king size bed to only a few mosquitos, we were forced to the rock solid floor in the living room where we spent the remainder of the night scratching our mosquito bites.
during our half hour taxi ride out to rome’s airport at six in the morning, it was hard to find the feeling of being home knowing you’re in the very beginning stages of a thirty-something hour trip home across the world. but we knew that if we could just make our connection in amsterdam, that we’d then soon enough be on the ground in seattle, and once we’d claimed our bags in seattle, it was only a matter of minutes before we’d board our bus up to vancouver where our girlfriends would be waiting. and since i’m offering up the simplified version of sean making it home from europe in mostly one piece – we arrived in vancouver to our wonderful girlfriends, and the story telling began.
holland america, this may have been my favourite part of each night on the cruise. coming back to the room to see who was holding down the fort.
let’s start with a little law of attraction story shall we? i always enjoy them immensely, and don’t really care if you don’t because this is my blog ;) ha. so i was doing a little self serve laundry on the ship the night before we ‘docked’ in monemvasia, greece, and was sitting with three or four ladies about two or three times my age. i was killing pigs on my iphone, and they inquired as to how i was able to do that with no buttons. i explained it was a touch screen and at their request showed them more. they were impressed. so as i waited for a washing machine, the conversation carried forward into how amazing and beautiful tomorrow would be, all the things there were to do. apparently there was a great hike you could do for a spectacular view, and one of the ladies talked about how she always carries certain things with her when she goes ashore – like duct tape. that struck me as odd. her list of things she was carrying ashore probably weighed half as much as her. but to each their own. many folks wouldn’t be stupid enough to carry their brand new, unlocked iphone4 in their pocket through a bunch of european cities while on vacation either. so again, to each their own.
well, as we threw down the anchor just off the coast of monemvasia, i was sitting out on the deck having breakfast, admiring the gorgeous sunrise, loving all the incredible cloudscapes passing over, in my shorts and a t-shirt. equipped with my ‘necessities’ to go ashore for the day – my year and a half old cole hann flip-flops, iphone, and 5d tucked away inside my shoulder bag with a spare lens. after a delicious breakfast about a foot under cover from the complete torrential downpour out on the deck, i hopped one of the lifeboats to shore and started up this incredible hike. in my flip flops. for a little while anyway. i must’ve been about 7/8ths of the way to the top when my left flip flop flung right off my foot and into the sharp shrubbery at the side of the muddy trail. at least it wasn’t right off the side of the cliff. that REALLY would have made me laugh.
ahhh, this is a very interesting scenerio i have got myself into here was my immediate thought. i could have SWORN i was just in a conversation about duct tape twelve hours ago, and here i am.after pulling out some long grass from it’s root tying it in a knot around my flip-flop and foot, it just wasn’t going to knot tight enough to keep my beloved flip-flop on. the thought of continuing FORWARD barefoot was more appealing than having my flip-flop fly off my foot every second step, but it was really muddy. and jagged rocks were abundant. a retired lady who i smiled at as i started the hike had caught me at this point. i had never been more jealous of running shoes in my life. “…you don’t happen to have any duct tape do you?” negative. but she did offer me the string from her cowboy hat. i couldn’t decline.
which suite are you in? i’ll have it back to you by the end of the evening, mud-free. sure enough, she was right on top of us. literally – their suite was right above ours. and by the end of the night, she had her shampoo smelling, cowboy hat string back, along with some biscotti and home-made chocolate from a local bakery. i couldn’t resist as a small token of my appreciation.
and who did i run into as we were dis-embarking the ship in rome two days later? judy. the duct tape carrying lady i had met in the laundromat. boy, do i have a story for you, i said…
how stunning is this monastery at the top of the hike? AMAZING!
The Good Word
splashing into the mediterranean and expensive jeans.
it really reminded me of venice. in the sense that, i knew there wasn’t any way in hell i was going to navigate a city of non-streets with few signs in a language that wasn’t even the same alphabet, let alone the same language. fortunately, there was a pretty large body of water on one side of mykonos, and if i could see the water, i could probably find the cruise ship, so navigation quickly became irrelevant. rendezvousing with a sign that literally pointed at where you may want to go was also a nice convenience.
there was one other small issue that needed to be addressed, and it had to do with my suitcase quickly approaching the fifty pound mark. i packed light because obviously i was going to bring europe’s economy back to life, but i didn’t really anticipate doing it on a €395 pair of jeans with a €93 belt. seriously. ever heard of prince oliver? that’s alright, neither had i. but i figured at nearly €500 for a pair of jeans with a belt, it had to be a pretty decent brand. and if it’s any consolation, they are my absolute favourite pair of jeans i have EVER owned. the belt is also my favourite. so should you and i happen to rendezvous while my waist is still a 29, and i’m wearing jeans – just compliment me and ask me how many hundreds of dollars i must’ve paid for such a great looking pair. ;)
i think it’s also worth mentioning at this point that the jeans and belt were 80% off. i love my fashion, but i’m not that stupid. yet. perhaps soon though.
speaking of fashion, eagerly anticipate my following post for a real sense of class ;)
THAT folks, is the seven dollar haircut that i wrote an entire blog post on. i think we can all agree that prices in turkey and prices and greece just do not line up.
how could it NOT be an awesome idea to run backwards on a beach with my camera ten inches from a crashing wave. it’s okei, you don’t have to tell me how smart i am now. you can save it for another time :)
someone had to be the last one back on the ship. and since you – not you, not you, – YOU, were being paged four times for the on-time departure of your aircraft through the entire domestic terminal building five minutes after our scheduled departure time, and ended up delaying me going home by five minutes at the end of the night, it was my turn. except my name wasn’t paged. and i didn’t delay our ship. and it was five minutes PRIOR to departure time. plus, i remembered watching that discovery channel special on the brand new oasis of the seas ship – the part where a millionaire delays the ship by six hours or something ridiculous. so you know what, m/s prinsendam, you weren’t going anywhere without me for a while yet ANYWAY. and frankly, since you charge $.70/minute for internet on your ship (that’s why your emails weren’t returned ;) ha!), i was going to milk every last second out of the free wifi at the only starbucks i saw on our entire three week trip.
in any case, this post is about the most amazing haircut, shave, and ear hair burning, not why i was the last of 800 something people to board a cruise ship in a small city halfway across the world where english isn’t really spoken. sounds fascinating, i know. but hei, you must think so because you’re the one here reading about it. that, or most of you are just too loyal to this space on the web.
so, after i finished having a brief conversation in turkglish with a lady who was watching me take a photo from her home of her locked-in-a-glass-stand-day-old pretzels, i decided not to purchase one and that the image wasn’t even worth keeping on my camera anyway. scruffy – way too lazy to shave, and in need of a haircut (and a good facial hair trimmer for that matter) – well not really about the haircut, but it’s fun to try and negotiate a new hairstyle with someone whom you don’t communicate through words isn’t it? plus, for 20 turkish lira, how can you go wrong for an experience like that. i think i wrote to jen that night – write an email on my iphone, save it as a draft, and log-in to the internet to sent it and log out immediately after i’ve downloaded all my incoming mails to read them offline. because if you think i’m going to sit there and compose an essay while i pay $.70/minute for the connection, you’re… i can’t say those words on my blog. but if i could find that email i wrote jen that night, i would copy and paste it because i enthusiastically described in detail the best hair cut of my life, best shave of my life, and one of my favourite travel experiences so far in life. complete with a new hairstyle, clean shave from just a single razor blade, having the hair burnt off my face by flame, and a hands on experience of having my head dunked under a running tap WITHOUT plugging my nose, i was ready to take on kuşadası, turkey. one of my favourite ports. (photos of my hair in greece is up next).
moonlight aviation photography anyone? spot the aeroplane and vapourtrail!
i have moods when i travel. they’re a frequent thing, and they’re pretty unpredictable. back in february when i was in tromsø for a week, i was having one of those moods. it’s my favourite place on the planet, and i really didn’t feel like taking any photos. the weather was gorgeous, albeit fifteen below zero, but the weather was gorgeous and you just couldn’t motivate me enough to take a photograph. one week, and when i wasn’t chasing the aurora from dinner time to the early hours of the morning with kjetil, i took less than fifteen photos. not even three a day. i just didn’t feel the need to, i didn’t want to, and it felt to me like everything i wanted was complete in the moment i was living it. i remember feeling the shivering cold walking the twenty steps outside from kjetil’s basement suite to his living room for dinner. i can recall their accents, and their kids giddiness of having a canadian guest stay with them. my senses of it all are so sharp, so complete, and with no images to help bring the experience to others.
i walked off the ship in sinop, turkey. it felt good. really good. the sky was pretty overcast in the morning as we started out, and i gravitated to some street cats. of COURSE i did. if i didn’t feel like making dilapidated buildings look interesting, i could photograph a cat and feel like an accomplished travel photographer. what’s that magazine in the movie notting hill? horse and hound? yeah, maybe they’ll see my work and HAVE to have me employed with them. i’ll travel the world and photograph street cats. how could i ever go wrong in my thinking. so taking some images of cats, holding up my aunt and brother from continuing through a sleepy turkish town on a sunday morning. what’s your hurry, everything is closed anyway, guys. apparently a man parked his car next to the wall there and began to talk to my brother and aunt. i had other priorities. but the cats ran away, and i engaged in some conversation. what were the odds of running into someone who speaks better english than i do in a town of a few thousand people on the coast of the black sea. one hundred percent.
a few minutes go by and we’re laughing and joking. well, the turks think i’m hilarious so i’m never leaving now. he yells up to his family through their apartment window. they would love to have us into their home for breakfast with them. rustic. authentic. surreal. it’s perfect. their home is beautiful. there is fresh breakfast baking all over the kitchen. coffee. tea. amazing conversation. it was all making sense. i didn’t need some photos of the outside of their building, or of a colourful parked car. i had the exact moment right in front of me. all the smells, all their accents, all the translating. the playing with the iphones. it was perfect. and later once we had said goodbye exchanging an email address or two, i found those photos of buildings, cars, and people anyway. ohh, and the sunset. the best sunset ever.
ohh, speaking of turkish hospitality. how’s this for some. our ship had made a local paper in one of the previous ports. dozens of photos. a few interviews. it was exciting stuff, it definitely wasn’t the everday. they wanted so much for us to have some of these papers to keep and take home that these folks came screeching up, literally, in a beautiful mercedes, jumped out of their car, tied up some papers in some string and tried to throw them onto our ship which had already pushed off the dock. the papers missed and are on their way to the bottom of the sea. they call over some guys PERSONAL boat, get on it with more newspapers, speed off toward our ship and tie up the papers in one of the guys’ sweaters. well they make our ship, a cheer goes off from everyone watching and so long, sinop – you have been incredible.
georgia. a lot of people don’t even know it’s a country. infact, i didn’t either up until a few years ago when i still watched the news. it’s one of those countries that when people find out you’re going, they beg to ask the ‘why would you want to go there? you can go anywhere you want, why would you go there?’ question. what is georgia anyway? i don’t really have a beautifully articulated answer of why i was there, or what there was to experience. it was just one of those experiences. it wasn’t a comfort country. it wasn’t a norway, or a france. english isn’t spoken, and locals aren’t accustomed to travellers. local folks curiosity peaks increasingly with each block walked from the marketplace, but we’re really all the same.
they pause for cover from a passing rainstorm under local business awnings just like us, and they pack themselves into make shift public transportation much like us. they get out to their beaches with friends in the afternoon, and they hang their laundry dry over their balcony. people are not so different, and it feels pretty awesome to realise that conclusion in a place so far away from ‘home’.
don’t ever change for anyone, georgia. you’re unmistakably amazing, and i know you’ll keep evolving into more.
and so by the early evening, we were back onboard heading in and out of sun showers and thunderstorms. sail on for the next.
now, mother russia is a bit of a precarious one. she’ll lure you in with pure curiousity alone, but booking this trip less than a month before departure day made getting into the country itself a little more complicated than just walking off our ship. mum has a particularly fun story to share with you about trying to get a russian visa without four months notice that maybe she’ll share with you one day, on her blog. ;) so we thought, well, it probably isn’t the best idea to throw them our passports which we may not get back in time for our flight to athens, so we’ll just book a tour from the ship instead and at least we can see some of sochi. and even from within the confines of guided walks and a tour bus, mother russia, you had me hooked. i’ll be back. and i’ll give you a years notice for that visa.
but rewind, rewind, rewind. we aren’t even there yet, we left from athens and spent a day at sea enroute to istanbul. somewhere kim spears was many, many, many months earlier but only just blogged a few days before me ;) turkish culture is sensational, it’s really sensory overload in a city so bustling like istanbul.
good morning, sochi!
before you ask, the donkey DOES speak russian. and i’d also like to point out the risk of being at his nose with a 21mm lens.
It’s five fifteen in the morning, you’ve just had two and a half hours of sleep knowing a thirty hour travel day awaits you, and you’re standing outside a huge casino resort in flip flops with frozen toes, next to your 40 pound suitcase. Ask me how to stay forward looking in the midst of an extreme travel day. I’ve had some experience here, and here. I do it by anticipating pleasant rendezvous. By imaging the most beautiful skies. By hoping for the northern lights. By striving to enjoy the journey as much as I knew I would enjoy Turkey, Russia, Georgia, the Ukraine, and Greece themselves. So this time, without the long, dramatic travel day story, I was where I wanted to be, and these few images are but a fraction of that journey to Athens, where we would board our M/S Prinsendam to take us out into the Black Sea.
it’s the same feelings, same situation, different circumstances for me, every single time a trip ends. i come home so fulfilled and willingly hanging around in the best moments from weeks, nights, or just a day on the road. as we hit the arctic circle, and especially as we left dawson city up north and began driving south, slowly, the thought of that inevitableness of coming back to a usual life had well been growing within me and i didn’t want it yet.
i’d miss all the setting up tents at midnight in the middle of no where, the heavenly ten minute stops at gas stations, otherwise known as towns, to fill up with gas & ice cream, and give our legs a well deserved stretch. it would be hard leaving behind the absolute vastness of such a country, of just one territory and all the wildlife along the way. how would i explain how hard we, well i, had to work every morning to pack everything back into the trunk and backseat of our car, and the way we’d have to set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier to allot for that. how on earth would we ever justify ourselves laughing out loud on public transit back home while we replayed inside jokes from the trip in our mind. i guess we wouldn’t, and the missing of those things is a part of life now – but they’re definitely never gone, or too far away to pull back and talk about, share about.
on a lighter note, those of you on twitter know i’ve been cookin’ up a little something extraordinary the past few days, and those of you not on twitter have no idea, unless you’re stalking me on twitter without following me, which is approved as well. i shot a little video on our trip, enough to inspire a desire to knock together my very first imovie! i’m really proud of me, and now wish i’d shot more video but – skip all the photos, scroll down to the bottom and have a look! enjoy!
“ohh, it’s just… too late in the season now, you won’t be able to see it until winter. you’re just a few weeks too late. they’ve even stopped updating the forecast site.” and i just didn’t understand. maybe i was being stubborn but i felt like i knew better and this trip, i was going to see aurora again. because as far as i knew, if it was dark enough under clear skies, and the sun was still in existence, which as i watched the sunset, it appeared it was – then i should be able to see the lights. and i did. i had to wait ’til just before 2am for twilight to reach it’s tail end, but she was out and dancing just as magnificent as always.
i’ve been wanting to feel more to tune into my intuition, and i don’t find anything more satisfying than really knowing, and without question – i just knew to wait up for a dark sky that night.
i know i speak for all four of us when i say that faro is an extraordinary place with an easy & abundantly flowing magic. as we were rolling into town on another gravel highway (ha, and we thought we’d smooth sailing after the dempster!), we noticed a strange trend coming to life. we were being waved at. a lot. in fact, there weren’t any exceptions. every car we passed on the outskirts of town & in town waved.
faro is amazing like that. mel, thank goodness for that girl, had gained some incredible insight and guided us toward this town of a few hundred people for their crane & sheep festival, which in other words said – you’re unconditionally welcomed to our community and all that we have. we were already riding highs from amazing people we’d bumped into earlier when our neighbours to the right at our campsite offered us two chairs for the girls in front of the blazin’ fire we had going, and not before we could accept those, our neighbours to the left came to us with two more chairs for josh and myself. all before a local family of four pulled up in their pickup truck and unloaded the biggest stash of firewood you’d ever seen at a campsite. the whole thing was becoming surreal, and before we knew it, there i was yelling down at the three of them from a small hill because, to top everything off, the northern lights came out to play as well.
and because blog posts are better with honesty, the next morning after enjoying a free/donation breakfast for the grad class of 2010, josh & i hit the links and played a round of golf, now get this, in just three holes – snow, rain, hail, sunshine and what must’ve been gail force winds on a course that toured their entire town. what a blast we had! josh and i, of course, were easily the best golfers on the course that day. just don’t ask how many others we saw playing, or how many balls we lost.
heiheihei! no no, not you, not you… YOU! yes, you are the one. hang tight a second and promise you’ll try to enjoy a few of these words before skipping over the images – because if you don’t, you’ll end up back here anyway waiting for a few of them to load. i just couldn’t help myself – dawson city was on the brink of two blog posts, but i decided to flood this single post with 35 images instead, so give me an extra second up here!
a few days earlier while we were in adorable little keno, which by the way, was named after the gambling game, a few locals told us to try and push dawson city back toward the end of the week as far as we could. because things just… weren’t open yet, it was spring thaw and we were in the tail end of it. we arrived on wednesday, and the bakery opened thursday. the ice cream shop was training new staff for the real tourist season we were ahead of. the ice bridge to the other side of town had just melted, and the ferry didn’t go in ’til saturday, or take the first campground we rolled into… “we’re… open, if you like, but our toilets & showers are still frozen”. mmm, yeah – problematic isn’t it. we did find one campground just outside of town where we were able to pitch our tents for three nights straight, which may not seem like a big deal, but after days and days of driving and throwing our tents together & apart in darkness on frozen tundra – it was the biggest treat of our trip.
dawson was like that for us, we had just knocked out the dempster highway, and here we were ready to settle down for a few days to really enjoy a slower pace, throwin’ rocks at icebergs, complete meals (nutella WITH bread), hours of hiking, sunsets from the top of the world, and even ice cream in the sunshine. that’s the great thing about dawson city, there are dozens of things you know you wanted to come for, and about another dozen that you didn’t even know existed but are ready for you too. like gold panning! dawson city, i’ll see you again this winter!
i’ll admit, i was a little intimidated by the thought of driving over 800 kilometres on a purely gravel highway, with one gas station, an awesome tire shop, and a sort of hotel halfway to the arctic ocean. logically, it seemed a more comforting thought to go to sleep once we hit the gravel start outside dawson city, and hopefully just wake up once we got to eagle plains many hours later. let’s be honest, we all know that it’s easier to just go to sleep than think about NOT hitting these rocks that look like they’ve come from the moon to take out our tires leaving us stranded in the middle of no where with bears, moose, elk and just about everything else you can think of.
but, travel is as much about the journey as it is the destination. often more so about the journey, and while i joke about sleeping through it for the comfort – we knew we’d be alright, and there just wasn’t any way we’d come this far north and not push on. so, we’d spoken with countless locals – gathering advice, taking some to heart that felt good, listening politely to others which did not. in the end, we somehow convinced ourselves that jerry cans & a real spare tire were luxurious we just didn’t have room for – so we took a chance, and headed away without them.
i feel repetitive already praising so much the company in which we travelled, the astounding scenery that was abundant to us, and the incredible people we met along the way – but like we found out, the more we appreciated, more to appreciate flowed to us. always. no exceptions. so, here we are – headed inside the arctic circle, via my fourth country, and finally, my very own backyard – dempster highway style.
and the phrase ‘slept the dempster’ was coined! patent – vancrewver 2010 – yukon trip! zingc!
as i first sat down to write this post, i thought of splitting up some of the writing i would do to match the few different locations of the images i would include. but as i came closer gathering up some thoughts – it seemed as though it all really should stay together, because it’s not just about one specific place, one particular moment, or
one favourite person that creates a single experience. it’s the way it all comes together, often with more than just one person, and en-route to a particular location, not at it. because let’s face it, the drive into keno city, (population 27) was literally breathtaking, but it was just the start of the magic we experienced there.
i knew this trip for me would begin when jen & i packed back home in vancouver figuring out how much of her stuff would end up in my backpack, but i also knew that getting into the heart of the yukon was when i’d really feel enlivened by these travels. our first night north of whitehorse was one of my favourites. we stumbled into, and (some of us) quite literally down remarkable mountains on our way to kathleen lake inside kluane national park. everything was wet, the firewood was soggy, it snowed, i think i had nutella on a spoon for dinner, but when you’re hiking down to dance on a frozen lake at midnight during twilight – it’s all right, and not only is it all right but tucking into your tent next to your very favourite person is something i wouldn’t give up for the world.
a day ago i got an e-mail from my aunt & uncle here in vancouver bluntly giving me hell because i’d been home for 24 hours and still hadn’t blogged ANYTHING from our camping trip. two weeks, one territory, 7000 kilometres, and a thousand photos later – this first post is just the start, but for you, BBC!
and i’ll say it is so much more fun to tell the stories of this trip with jen at my side, but for now you’ll have to make do with just me here. so a couple weeks ago i dropped everything, actually everything (it sounds like work thought i’d actually croaked – apparently i forgot to mention i was leaving without a phone or willingness use technology) and flew an hour north to prince george, bc where jen & i met up with her awesome friend, mel & her boyfriend josh, to collect our rental car.
this post sums up our first two days on the road, which is really a day and a half since we didn’t leave til late afternoon to get started. stacking five people, five 75 litre backpacks + a cooler in an ’09 dodge caliber took practice, folks – take it from me, your caring airline baggage handler. day one was just about getting us as far north as we could push (fortunately katie was able to join us for the first few days before she had to fly home from whitehorse) with the two driver system. about an hour outside fort nelson, i was tracking down the northern lights from the backseat window but as you’ll see below, by the time we’d pulled into town a little after 1am and set up our tents in a random baseball diamond, she was nearly gone for the evening.
our night consisted of bitterly freezing temperatures, a four hour sleep, katie climbing into the car for warmth at 4am and our alarm getting us up at 5:30a instead of 6:30a. not exactly the start we’d all envisioned, but the day ahead we were right on track. abundant amounts of wildlife within a stones throw through the entire way over the day was a highlight for me. (the bison was bigger than our car, and it was walking along the shoulder. i was fascinated and incredibly intimidated.) into the late morning it became routine to pull over for views that can only really be experienced through getting out of the car where the girls would break for yoga. back on the road we found and stayed hours at the fabulous & mesmerizing liard natural hot springs, which still wasn’t enough time. amazing. finally into the late evening we were chasing the sunset northwest into the yukon making a stop and adding to watson lake’s signpost forest before rolling into our only hostel of the trip in the yukon’s capital city, whitehorse.
Oh no. Not another Sean Norman travel story about flying home. I can hear your thought echo about it from here, but I just can’t help it. So if you’re new here, or really are having a horrendous morning and need to laugh at the misfortune of someone else, come on over and read forty-eight hours | the trip home from my attempt to make it home in one piece last summer. And this time, I thought I’d try it stand-by from the same part of the world.
It’s two days before my scheduled Lufthansa flights home to Vancouver from Tromsø. I’ve got a few hours to pass before I’m out the door for a night of chasing the northern lights with Kjetil, and isn’t it wise of me to log into our company site to check the flight loads coming home so I know I can count on there being space for me on my two Lufhthansa standby flights from Oslo-Frankfurt, and then Frankfurt-Vancouver.
Well, it depends how you look at it. The site displays the flight loads in three ways. A :-) for good space open, a :-| for fair space open, and a :-( for no space open. A week prior, both my flights were :-) and I was relaxed. Now I’m looking at the screen and all the faces are red :-(. Not only are they red :-(, but the first flight I was supposed to take is no longer even LISTED as a flight there. It’s been…cancelled? Destroyed? Demolished? Days before & after – same situation. Somethings up. Intuitively, I Google “Lufthansa strike?”. Yeeep. That intuition of mine is bang on again. Lufthansa pilots are to go on strike the 22nd. I’m listed to fly the 23rd. Have I mentioned I’m scheduled to be at work the 24th? No? Oh, I’m scheduled to work the afternoon of the 24th. Sweet.
Well, since I paid $160 for these two Lufthansa flights to get me from Oslo-Vancouver – it doesn’t feel very satisfying to be thinking about spending a few thousand dollars on a confirmed flight home all of a sudden. Oh, that’s right – The Olympics are happening in Vancouver right now, I wonder if I can even GET a flight there. My heart is in my throat. Thought: We get passes on Air Canada too. They fly into London’s Heathrow from Vancouver. Relief. Our pass office asks us to give them a minimum of two weeks to get us tickets for flying standby. I need these in less than 48 hours. In any case, I explain the situation to Carolyn at our pass office, and by the time I get home from just another extraordinary evening chasing the lights – she has me the Air Canada tickets I need. Heavenly. Well not quite.
I still have to call Air Canada myself and tell them exactly my date & time of hopeful travel. They don’t have a Norwegian phone number. It’s a 1-888 number. From Norway. Do you have any idea how spectacular the roaming charges would be to stay on hold with them for 20 minutes before I got a representative? I thought so. A few e-mails later, a friend back home has called for me and done everything that phone called needed to accomplish. Relief. Sort of. I book the flight from Tromsø-Oslo. $122. Now the search for a flight from Oslo-London. The cheapest that is coming up is $400. British Airways fares start at $1800. For a two hour flight, really? This leg previously was costing me $22. I settle on a fare with Norwegian.no for $270, except it’s the morning after I arrive into Oslo, and into London Gatwick, not Heathrow. I’ll sleep in the airport. I’ll find a way to get from Gatwick-Heathrow within three hours. Moving forward with the booking process on their website… Ohh, an additional $12 for a checked bag. Ahh, $7 for my seat reservation. Ohh, another $9 for… WANTING TO PAY WITH MY VISA?! You’re charging me for paying on your website to book my flight with YOUR airline with a credit card?! Whatever. Fine. It’s booked.
Wake up the next morning, I’m delighted to see an e-mail from Wideroe Airlines for my Tromsø-Oslo leg telling me my Visa card has been denied. That’s fantastic. Re-entre all the information. Double check it. Triple check it. Denied. E-mail from Norwegian.no for my Oslo-London leg. My credit card has not been authorized. I check my Hotmail, which I haven’t checked in weeks. Cue e-mail from my dad…
“You must call the VISA card centre immediately!!!! 1-800-361-0152
They believe the card has been breached with some really weird charges on it. The card has been cancelled.”
Dad, I’m in Norway with my mobile phone. There’s now way in hell I’m calling Canada on it from here to confirm my card has been cancelled. They can deal with it right now. I’m sort of having other issues.
Terrific news though. Do you believe in signs from the universe? I’m starting to.
At this point, I re-book my two flights with my other Visa. The one in my name I’ve only had for a month or two. The one with a resulting credit limit of $500 because it’s so new. The one I just charged a few thousand kroner worth of clothes from H&M on yesterday. That one. The first flight. Approved. Relief. I find myself at Norwegian.no, wondering if the extra $12 for a checked bag, or the extra $9 for paying WITH my Visa will put me over the edge of the limit and deny the entire thing all over again. No negative e-mails. Sweet.
The only other foreseeable problem ahead lies at Gatwick, where I’ll need to find $42 for my bus ticket to transfer to Heathrow airport. Please, please, please, Visa, have enough space left on you for this one last thing to get me home. S-u-c-c-e-s-s, that is how you spell success! Glad you picked up on that Simpsons line too :)
At this point, I’d like to mention how I would have just gone to an ATM in the centrum of Tromsø, and take out a few hundred dollars to pay for my flights AT the airport, and I did head to two different ATMs in the centrum to do just that… However, (Can you sense what’s coming?) it can’t be that simple.
I walk up. Card in. English selected as my language. 1900 Norwegian Kroner selected as my withdrawal amount (About $300 – my card limit per day is $400). “Your bank would not approve this transaction. Please take your card.”
Are you kidding me? Actually?
Card back in. English. Let’s try 1400 Kroner – just over $200. “Your bank would not approve this transaction. Please take your card.”
Card back in. English selected. 900 Kroner – $150. “Your bank would not approve this transaction. Please take your card.”
Sigh. I am amazing and travel the world. Remember I actually wanted to do this at one point, Sean?
English. 400 Kroner – $75. Spits out my money, and I realise – that was rather useless. $75 is not the $122 that my flight costs. Spectacular. I went chocolate shopping and kept 55 kroner for the airport bus later. Best decision so far, and thankfully, one of the last I had to make financially for a few days.
My flight from Tromsø arrived in Oslo just before 11p. Only 5 more hours before check-in opens for my flight to London at 6:25a the next morning. I’ll just find a decent bench/set of chairs/single chair somewhere with a plug for my laptop so I can relax, edit some photos and maybe even send off an e-mail or two before I get a few hours of sleep. The benches are harder than the floor. There are no chairs. And there are no plugs. Only cleaning machines spraying water all over the floor and then zooming ahead to dry it up. All. Night. Long. So I power up my Macbook, and my battery is flashing red at under 10%. I really would love to send an e-mail to Jen so I could humour her, and let her know I’m half well… Somehow I manage to frantically type type type type and steal a wifi signal that allows the e-mail to send. A small miracle.
Oslo Airport, why can’t you have free internet like Helsinki? I love Helsinki Airport. Not you, Oslo Airport. Do you really think I’m in a position to pay 150 Kroner ($25) for 24 hours of internet? Speaking of putting myself in a position of charging 150 Kroner to my Visa that is about to explode violently, I drag myself and my backpack to the 24 hour Cafe and gently ask the girl behind the counter for a chai latte & chocolate chip cookie. “Just… if you wouldn’t mind trying to charge my Visa first before you make the drink… it’s sort of a long story, and although I still have another 4 hours before I have to check-in… it may not be enough time to explain.”
And so there I was. Lying on the floor in Oslo Airport, spooning my backpack, breaking off pieces of my chocolate chip cookie to go with my chai latte in the first few hours of my 28 hour journey home to Vancouver.
Let me mention at this point, when I got home – one of my good friends at work who heard about the Lufthansa strike & knew I was supposed to be coming home on them greeted me at the airport and proceeded to inform me that they actually decided at the very last second not to go on strike after all. But what’s life without a little adventure right? Certainly not mine.
How magnificent is a half moon in clear skies rising across the south sky while the aurora plays in the north sky? It’s pretty close to perfect. Especially as the sweetest young couple out with us from England decided to get engaged under this night sky. He knew exactly how perfect the moment was, and even from the distance, each of us were as overjoyed for them as they were. It can be difficult to imagine something so completely breathtaking become even more so, but it happens.
I’m just extremely thankful Kjetil didn’t point out the fox holes I stumbled over numerous times sooner than he did or there would’ve been no way I’d have fought my way through the two feet of snow all over to obtain some of these foregrounds. So thanksverymuch indeed!
I didn’t focus on a photography trip. I let go of travelling through a camera lens for a week, and I may feel a little disappointed in myself for it because there were moments I wanted to share with the world. Skies I wanted to share with the world, and moods I wanted to share with the world, but unfortunately, for you, I’m selfish. Instead of frantically pacing around the centrum during twilight with my tripod frozen to my hands because it’s -15, I just stood back, took a deeper breath than I usually would have and laughed at the perfection of all of it.
I don’t have to tell you about the details of things clicking in my life, I’m absolutely certain I’ve shared enough of that in the past few months to make most of you either physically sick or so jealous you’d sort of want to take my tripod and club me over the head until you felt better. I do want to express immense appreciation for this experience already. Being invited to stay with a family half way across the planet is one of the greatest… blessings, for lack of a better word, I have experienced. It’s the fact Kjetil is my clone in his natural appreciation and love for life, having the experience to chase the aurora for several nights straight from the fade of twilight to the wee hours of the morning is one thing. Really feeling a sense of family with he, his wife, and his two kids is something ten thousand times more meaningful still. It didn’t matter if it was the home cooked meals every single evening, the grocery shopping, the cups of coffee, or Irene – Kjetil’s wife, caring for me on my last evening there when I allowed myself to become physically sick at the thought of leaving Tromso. I actually don’t think I’ve ever been so appreciative in such a short period of time, it really is life changing. It’s just the way you allow yourself to become in life, to expand to that new place whether it’s a country you’ve now been four times or not. It doesn’t matter, because nothing stands still, and perhaps that’s why this all feels so new to me again.
On a side note, I cannot watch the Notebook. Certainly not in public. I’m actually typing this post from 38,000 feet over Greenland and having just finished that movie on my PTV – I’ll tell you I had to pause it more than once to fiddle and focus on anything else but the movie or I probably would’ve flooded our aircraft, and I can’t imagine that would’ve been an ideal scenario. Embarrassing much? And here I am telling you, world. Yeahyeah, I can’t fake me. That’s for sure.
If you’re here to compare posts with previous posts, then it’s probably best to close this window before you read much further. After only a few nights of chasing the northern lights, one of the most important things I’ve learnt is how completely futile it is to compare one evening to another. In fact, not only is it impossible, but it’s really the quickest way to lose the feeling of pure exhilaration that is observing and chasing the aurora borealis. No two displays will ever catch up with one another, and each has it’s own very distinct beauty. This evening was certainly far less dramatic, but it was ridiculously beautiful filled with a certain magic that is, once again, impossible to describe with words from a place of not being directly under the aurora itself.
I cannot recall, for the life of me, a time where I have felt more love, more appreciation, and more enthusiasm for being here on planet Earth. I just can’t. Even now beginning to put together this post, I’ll include a photo into the area below and the very feeling of that moment washes over my body. Goosebumps and all, zipping up my jacket so quickly I cut my lip wide open and all, throwing my arms in the air, my hands on my head and all.
To quote Kjetil… “It is one of the best nights so far this season.” But it was cold. So cold. The wind howled at the water where we started, dropping the temperature to below -20, easily. We took a chance and headed inland just after 10p to a beautiful valley you’ll be seeing more of (think camping with a bonfire), where it was much cooler – but felt a million degrees warmer without the wind. Enough words, here’s sight of our Wednesday evening…
I’m not sure if you’ve seen her, because she loves a fun, tireless game of hide & seek but when she comes out to play – she plays, endlessly. If you’ve seen her, you know there aren’t words that accompany these moments. In fact, there aren’t even words to help define the sight of her or re-live these moments away from her. You just… you can’t describe it, you… you have to see it, you have to stand in the -12 for six hours in snow a foot and a half deep, surrounded by the Norwegian mountain scape and the dead silence of the valley.
I am. It’s ridiculous, and I’m not sure I really understand it and how it happens but I’m just richly blessed. Imagine!
There is so much I want to write, so much I want to say thank you for. Not only making both of my flights on standby travel, but being assigned a window seat on one, and the bulkhead (row with extra legroom) on the other. Surviving a snowstorm in Frankfurt airport and still getting out on time to connect in Oslo for my third & final leg up to Tromso, where I’ll now reside for the next week and a half.
I have to tell you, 28 hours of travel from Vancouver to Tromso was exhausting but on the 27th hour up at 35,000 feet looking out the window and seeing the aurora borealis dance again for the first time in two years & one month – I forgot all about being tired, or how wrinkled my clothes were, or just how utterly disgusting I was. It was magic, and not a thing in the world can compare. So while I sit here in the living room, enjoying being interrupted every few minutes by Kjetil’s two boys who are in LOVE with Guitar Hero – I feel indeed, richly blessed.
The sun has set on Tromso outside, and twilight is quickly approaching which means just after we sit down to dinner here now – we are off into the countryside until the wee hours of the morning to chase the northern lights, my absolute favourite.
I heart Norway.
When it feels as though this universe has knocked itself out in countless ridiculous ways to satisfy yet another burning desire of pure wanting from me, I wouldn’t dare hesitate taking the inspired action that follows such synchronicities. Paper tickets for standby travel are here, which means I won’t be.
This is where I’m going to spend the next little while. No, really. Literally, right there. Twisting my neck in ways that will bring excruciating pain, and have my breath literally taken from me by sheets of colour dancing across the sky. My favourite experience on this planet. So how does that all sound?
Talk to you from above the Arctic circle. Real soon.
Just one last short & simple post from Helsinki before we leave this magnificent city behind for probably… at least a month, anyway. On my last night, Anna & I made our way to the ferry dock for a final visit to Suomenlinna for sunset, which has become quite the recurring theme with my visits to Helsinki, but never repetitive in feelings & appreciation.
Thinking up my next little jolt overseas to anywhere Lufthansa or Air Canada flies for probably mid-November for a few weeks, so all my blog-stalkers in hiding, now would seem an appropriate time to come forward with an e-mail shouting some suggestions! The front runners… Norway, Romania or Iran. Let’s hear it!
Alex, this photograph – for you. Clearly thinking of you while I was taking it!
That folks, is a hail storm. I walked right through it to the metro station from the dock.
I love to live my life based on the most simple pleasures. I just enjoy open spaces, I love unusual cloud formations and watching them change while they fly overhead. I love vivid colours – I don’t care if it’s a dilapidated wall, the sky, or an open landscape seemingly entirely inaccessible to anyone else on the planet, or maybe it was just that wind detering them from coming. Suomenlinna is all of these things for me, especially during the Autumn. The weather was cool, most certainly crisp and entirely unpredictable. The day ended with an awesome hail storm, and a bucket full of images – most of which aren’t here. Yet. But many favourites are, so enjoy!
It didn’t at all matter for what day we booked tickets for the ferry over to Tallinn because the forecast is entirely useless this time of the year here. Well, it’s not that it’s useless – it’s just that the weather is constantly changing, it just doesn’t stay still. So Wednesday it was, and as we pulled into port, it was raining insanely hard to the point I didn’t want to get off the ship. By the time the bridge docked, the sun was out in full. And it carried on like that for the entire afternoon, so there was a fine balance of dodging into alleys & hiding the camera to purposely getting lost in the old town.
I will say everything about today was perfect. Everything. Every little detail. Every fine ounce of creativity that flowed, and still is flowing, re-discovering the coffee house from two months ago, rendezvousing with so many right people, appreciating magnificent displays from mother nature and everything in between. See, the wonderful thing about life is as something is active within me – it follows me where ever I go, and with a little fine tuning, all those things are wanted & deliberate. What is more perfect than that?
If only this photo actually did the sky justice. Geeeeez!
One of my favourite images from the road this year. Smell, taste, feel – it’s all right there in my hot chocolate.
Fortunately, this was the payoff of winds that blew me down the deck on my feet & near freezing temperatures.
Cute little video inside my favouritest cafe on the planet! Think I heard them say they were from Nova Scotia!
Our last few days was a total mixed bag as far as scenery, weather & adventures go. After I spent a couple of hours on the deck watching for any Aurora activity after leaving Juneau, we arrived in Skagway the following morning to a lot of fog, a lot of low cloud and about 6,000 cruise ship tourists in a town of 800 people. Thankfully, we stepped off the tourist trail 15 minutes and had the entire mountains to ourselves.
The next solid day and a half at sea was spent rocking around at the mercy of the Pacific Ocean. We missed our call at Ketchikan with gale force 11 winds – hurricane force winds! While there were a lot of people taking part in the whole sea sickness idea, I found the entire experience exhilarating! To me, there was nothing more exciting than watching from the windows, and from our balcony, the waves crash up against the front of the ship sending us up high to come crashing back down again! I was in love with every single moment of it! Except when the winds were gusting the 110 km/h and I couldn’t physically push our balcony door open! Hah!
While some of you have probably seen enough of Alaska from me to last a lifetime, I still haven’t and I know I’ll be back, probably next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. Thank you for the complete abundance of blog love for this entire series, it makes it all the sweeter to me! When we docked at 7am Saturday morning, I rushed off to second shoot a wedding with Jamie Delainey which is all prepared and will be surfacing on my blog here in a couple days!
We're docked in Skagway!
Scott & I opted not for any organized tours in Skagway, and explored the area through some solid hiking up to a region of lakes…
Sad sight leaving those Arctic waters for the Pacific again.
Let me tell you, the waters might not look like much here – but they were in fact pretty violent out there!
The Diamond Princess we were following home turning around!
This was the 5:30am morning. I go on an Alaskan cruise for a vacation, and over the period of a week, I don’t think I’ve ever accumulated such little sleep in my life. Except that one week last year at the airport where I worked a 36.5 hour shift which turned out to be 101 hours in 7 days, but that’s a whole other story! I’m all about depriving myself of everything comfortable for nature, but not for throwing your 70lb bags inside of 737s! So again, my alarm was set, and I eventually stumbled out of bed to answer the knock at our door for our breakfast. Enjoyed that, and then spent just about the remainder of the day out on our balcony, and out on the top deck.
It’s really hard to bring words into this series of images that can even… remotely come close to giving you a sense of how overwhelmingly beautiful it is up there in Glacier Bay, and the whole of Alaska for that matter. It’s really, really surreal – and I think that’s the only way to say it, so hopefully my images speak a little stronger. If that day solidified one thing for me, it’s that one of my next stops in life is going to be Antarctica.
A few seconds before it happened, a huge thunder erupts from the glacier and what follows is the calving seen in the centre of the frame here. Totally the wrong lens in this moment, but incredible all the same!
For all you camera officionados out there… MarkII, ISO 12800 in moonlight. You decide ;)