Disclaimer: This is a long post with a lot of pretty amazing pictures. Prepare to spend some time!
I can hardly believe it has been 8 years ago when I convinced my beloved to "just get married!" We semi-eloped to a friend's place who had the most beautiful grounds, and asked our closest family to join us while we said our vows and pledged each to the other. It was the most special day!
Little did I know what was ahead!
For the traditionalists, we did go through the formal ceremony in July when we had set a formal date. It was also beautiful, but in retrospect, the first was the all we needed (though it was fun to wear a fancy dress!).
Every year, we try to celebrate our anniversary by doing something fun and usually outdoors. This year was a take 2 on getting a storage barrel to our bear camp up in the mountains and to do a spring black bear hunt. We had tried the week before but kept loosing our trail in the snow and getting our feet snowed in. We had high hopes that the snow would be much less. It was, for a while. We trudged our way through drifts of snow, winding back and forth to and from the trail. I can't adequately describe how fabulous this was. *Sarcasm!* Then we hit this:
Fortunately, my loving husband chose this moment to suggest we bail. I had been trying to think positively while tromping through muck, mud, & snow while tripping and sometimes falling through the snow and over hidden branches into running water below. Finally, I was just trying to be quiet. "If you don't have something nice to say..." Yeah, I was not going to be saying anything nice! My husband became my hero when he said we should just quit. Then he really pulled out the stops when he produced a tiny bottle of wine to drink with our cheese! It was very fun! Suddenly, I had no problem thinking positively!
Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, he suggested we go down and head to Seward to take a Kenai Fjord tour! This is something I have been asking to do for years but the interest just hadn't waxed as much for Pat. I was so excited and I think he was too! We promptly finished our lunch and made our way to Seward. We had no bedding and were wearing matching camo clothing, so I suggested we try a thrift store to remedy both situations. We found a lovely comforter and pillows with bed mats for cushions, and I did find a nice sweater to add to the old pair of jeans I had in the car. Crisis averted! Since I had "new" duds, we also hit the town and saw a movie! It was quite possibly the most interesting movie theatre I've ever been in. It had fascinating decor, and I was a bit in awe of the Christmas lights around the curtained screen. I wish I would have had my camera as it was somewhat indescribably, well, quaint! We had a rather cool night camping in the car (we did use the automatic start to warm it up a time or two!), and made it to our dock at the appointed time. I was very excited! Pat looked a tiny bit tired, but he was excited, too!
From our second deck window seat, we had a great vantage point to see the first of many wildlife sightings. The first was the Sea Otter. There were many who were just reclining in the midday sun.
Then came the Dall Porpoise. We called them the Killer Dolphins. They have coloring like the Killer Whale but are porpoise and like to play in the boat's wake. They chased us a couple of times, but we remained safe!
(O.K., this wasn't my photo, but I thought I should show you what was splashing in the photo previous to this!)
We did come upon a couple pods of Orca's, the Killer Whale. There were several young and female with one larger male. It was quite obvious to tell the difference! I kept waiting for our deckhands to lean over the deck with a fish hanging from their teeth, but I suppose these guys haven't learned those tricks just yet. It was pretty spectacular to see them for "real!"
We were having a ball running back and forth from our cozy table inside to the upper deck to see more. It was a little breezy up there, and the wind made it a bit chilly, so we chose not to stay outside for too long of intervals.
We were approaching this glacier, Holgate Glacier to be precise, and this other tour boat was ahead of us. I thought it was good to give perspective! We followed suit and slowly advanced on the slightly calving wall of packed snow/ice. I had never heard the calving before, and it was truly thunderous. We only saw smaller pieces fall and it was booming, so I can only imagine what a huge chunk would sound like.
True to form, Pat was on the lookout for bears and found 4 black bears crawling around near the glacier. We also saw many mountain goats with cute little babies, but the real draw for Pat were the bears. He is, at this moment (in the photo and in present tense), planning his next bear hunt, since this one proved to be a bit different!
The Orca's abound! This is one of the male leaders of one of the pods. They were fascinating.
The whales are what I was most excited to see, since we've seen all the other animals before. After seeing all the Killer Whales, we began to have sightings of Humpback Whales! They were either solitary or in a pair, and it was extraordinary to see them! The captain of the boat would get as close as we safely could, then turn off the main engine to achieve as much quiet as possible. You could hear them blow out as they surfaced and then slid back down. Everyone on the boat would gasp with excitement with each fluke. It was amazing!
Spectacular! I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Sunday, worshiping in creation!
We did come back pretty tired. It seems that even our dogs were exhausted and we all just crashed with pleasant, peaceful rest! That was truly the best bear hunt on which I've ever been, and one of the most memorable anniversaries yet!