I’ve been planning this trip to Alaska for quite a while to visit one of my Indiana Wesleyan University friends, Kristian Irey. Flying out was pretty terrible because my flight left LAX at midnight. Got into Seattle at 2:30am and slept on an uncomfortable airport bench until my flight to Anchorage at 6am. Passed out in the plane until I hit Anchorage, Alaska at 8:30. Kristian picked me up and we went to this dope breakfast place called South. We hung out at her apartment with her roommate Jaclyn for a bit until we hiked up Blueberry Hill. It was cold and windy, but absolutely beautiful. Did some editing back at the apartment until we picked up Caleb (another old IWU friend) at the airport. Jaclyn went to work while Kristian, Caleb and I went on another hike to Eagle River Nature Center and then headed to Beluga Point where we admired the sunset. Next we went to dinner at The Rustic Goat and had some delicious food. Went home exhausted and passed out hard from lack of sleep the night before and from hiking all day.
Caleb flew back to Fairbanks in the morning. Kristian and I went to Williwaw / Steam Dot coffee shop which was awesome. Best vanilla and caramel latte’s I’ve ever had. I caught up on some editing while Kristian went on a quick shoot. Kristian and I made a spur of the moment decision to fly up to Fairbanks the next day to spend some more time with Caleb, go on flights with him, visit the hot springs, and hopefully go dogsledding! As I sat in the coffee shop, I got to do a lot of people watching. Whenever I made eye contact with someone, we both smiled. While I was an outsider and technically a tourist (hurts to say), I felt welcomed by everyone. Once Kristian was finished, we drove up to Hatcher’s Pass where the weather had become extremely foggy, making it difficult to see all the beauty I was surrounded by. Luckily, it was a different type of beauty (but a little more difficult to photograph). We stopped inside the A-Frame ski lodge there where we had some fantastic hot chocolate. Seriously, what is it about Alaska and delicious hot beverages?
Woke up at 5am to get to the airport where we took a one hour flight to Fairbanks. After being picked up by Caleb (who lives in Fairbanks) we stopped to get groceries. Caleb prepped the plane for our Denali flight while Kristian slept because she was feeling a bit sick. Sadly, the visibility was really low so we didn't end up going to Denali. Instead, Caleb and I grabbed coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Alaskan Coffee Roasters. Delicious once again. The next plane was full so I couldn't go to Coldfoot which was a bummer. Got picked up by Kristian and went to urgent care because she really wasn’t feeling well. Napped in the lobby and one of the nurses took a snapchat of me. I didn’t care. I was tired. Kristian and I then shopped for "sick" foods before heading back to Caleb’s house to nap. Naps are my favorite. Caleb came home from the flight to Coldfoot and we drove an hour north to the hot springs. While they had a nasty sulfur smell, it felt great to chill and relax in a natural hot tub surrounded by mountains.
Woke up Easter Sunday and had breakfast at Sams Sourdough Cafe with Kristian and Caleb. Caleb and I drove to the airport and he prepped his plane as I filmed him. I got to fly with Greg to Coldfoot because Caleb’s flight was full. Naturally I wanted to fly with Caleb, but I was just grateful to be able to travel there. On the flight up, all I could see were trees, mountains, and snow. No animals, buildings, roads, or people littered the vast expanse below me. I couldn’t help but think I was in Game of Thrones on the other side of the Wall, surrounded by Wildlings. Venturing to Coldfoot was the farthest north I’ve ever been. Caleb and I kept joking about Lord of the Rings saying, “If I take one more step, It’ll be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.” For the first time in my life, I crossed the Arctic Circle and went 55 miles beyond that to Coldfoot. Basically things looked about the same as the other hundreds of miles around me; it was all bleak and desolate beauty.
Met up with Caleb once we landed and went to the cafeteria and got a private tour of the sled dogs. One of my favorite moments was when Caleb saw the first dog and said, “well now I have to say hello to everyone,” before proceeding to greet each and every dog with excitement and scratches. Dogsledding didn’t end up happening in Fairbanks but I was just happy to see some sled dogs in Coldfoot. Greg flew up north so I headed back with Rachael. Hearing Caleb talk about his work made me realize how insanely passionate he is about what he does. In order to make people feel more comfortable in the plane, he talks to each person, and gives detailed information about what people can see from the windows. Life lesson: surround yourselves with people who love their jobs more than anything in the world. Sadly, there wasn’t much extra time after the Coldfoot flight to hang out so we packed our things and headed to the airport to catch our flight back to Anchorage. Said goodbye to Caleb and hopped on the plane for my 3rd flight of the day. After arriving in Anchorage, Kristian, Jaclyn, and I went to a restaurant called Bear Tooth before hanging out at their apartment and editing.
Hung out and had a fantastic breakfast thanks to Jaclyn and then hung out and watched random cute octopus videos. It was time for me to head back to LA but Kristian and I drove downtown and stopped at a few tourist shops just to see if there was anything cool there. Drove to the airport for my 4th and 5th flights in 2 days. Said goodbye to Kristian and headed back to the land of sunshine and smog. It was a brief trip but definitely awesome to see old friends, meet new ones, and see the beautiful landscape. I’m hoping to go back sometime in the summer because I would love to see Alaska as a green paradise instead of the cold snowy one I had already experienced.
Finally, I would like to thank Santa Clause for all of his reindeer I ate. They were delicious.