After returning home from the mainland, Curtis unpacked his bags, then packed his sea bags and left a day later. Talk about a quick turnaround! This summer, we went from being apart, to having quite a bit more time together, to traveling and being together 24/7, and then right back to being separated. Such is this Navy life! However, it wasn’t quite so hard to say goodbye this time, as I already had several things to look forward to. First, my little sister was coming to stay with me, and second, there was a potential that I would be able to go meet Curtis somewhere exciting!
One week after he left, I got an email that said, “Buy the tickets.” I immediately did a quick search for flights, and bought tickets right then and there. Being a smart and responsible Navy wife who’s always prepared for last-minute changes, I decided to pay for refundable tickets. Until I realized the price more than doubled with that option…that’s when I knew it was really happening: I was going to Alaska no matter what! I emailed Curtis back and said “You better be there, or else I’m getting my 47th state without you!”
Now, this all may sound very spontaneous to you, but I’ll have you know that the only spontaneous part about this trip was the last-minute plane ticket purchase. Two years ago when we arrived on the island, Curtis had a friend that went on a ride up to Alaska on another boat. I specifically remember Curtis coming back to our hotel that night and telling me about it, and saying there’s a chance that his boat could make the same trip someday.
“Cool, I’ll meet you there!” I said.
“The boat doesn’t necessarily make port though, so it might not be worth it,” he replied.
“That’s okay, I’ll go anyway,” I said.
Not too long after, we had a whole plan devised ‘just in case’ this trip ever happened. Curtis even had a hike picked out. That’s just how we operate, we always like to have a few dozen trips planned, just in case. That way, we’re totally ready to go should the opportunity strike.
And oh boy, did it strike! One thing we love about Curtis’ boat is the emphasis they put on family time, and giving everyone a break whenever they can. The boat wasn’t making port, but they arranged it so most guys got a chance to get off and enjoy Alaska for a few days. While the plans seemed far off and uncertain at the beginning of this year, this summer they really seemed to come together, and eventually it became clear that there were 3 potential dates that Curtis could get off the boat and have 2 days of freedom. As soon as he figured out those days, he reported them to me, and I was ready at a moment’s notice to buy tickets.
It was unfortunate that it came so soon after my sister arrived so I didn’t have too much time to re-introduce her to the island, but I drove her around town showing her where everything was, we did a little exploring, and I stocked the fridge and told her everything she needed to know for 3 days alone. I was thankful to have her here to house-sit and watch Charlie for me for those 3 days, not to mention that having her here gave me a reason to be excited about coming home!
I packed everything I needed for those 3 days into my backpack, and my dear friend drove me to the airport on a Monday night for my red-eye flight. I tried to sleep as much as I could on the flight, but honestly it seemed to go by so fast, and soon enough I was wide awake as we landed in Anchorage. My first time in Alaska! I was beyond excited to be there!
I had 3 hours before my next flight was scheduled to depart, and I spent the entire time walking around the (very small) airport, marveling at the fact that I was here. A place that I had dreamed of for so long, and had wanted to visit so badly for years…it made even the airport seem extraordinary. I soaked in each little display, and lingered at every piece of artwork.
The magic wore off just a bit when I saw my flight was delayed 2 whole hours. Of all the flights to be delayed, why did it have to be this one, one that cut directly into my time with Curtis?! At least by this point, we were able to text, so I knew he was actually going to be on land as planned.
The redeeming moment was when, just 1 minute before boarding started, I refreshed the seat selection page on my phone and saw that a window seat opened up! I clicked on it quite literally at the last moment, but it was so close to the cut-off time that it didn’t change on my mobile boarding pass and I had to go get a printed one. I happily boarded my flight and settled in for what would be the most incredible flight of my life!
Oh, but let me tell you about my flight. This was an Alaskan Airlines flight that goes from Anchorage to Seattle, but makes 3 stops along the way in Juneau, Sitka, and — my final destination — Ketchikan. Maybe this would annoy some people since it has so many ups and downs, but I was thrilled: I would be getting an extra 2 counties along the way, making my total for Alaska 4 counties in this one trip!
I had wondered if I would be able to see Denali, but even if that were possible, there was such a thick cloud cover that I couldn’t see much over Anchorage. The cloud cover stuck around until about halfway through the flight. I’m pretty sure I was able to see Fairweather Peak, the highest point in British Columbia. There were a few other tall peaks that I snapped pictures of and pinned on Google maps to later identify.
The highlight of the entire day (besides being reunited with Curtis and…well just being in Alaska I guess!) was flying over Glacier Bay National Park. The clouds broke up at just the right point, and I was able to see all the jagged peaks, glaciers, and bright blue lakes below me. I was screaming internally the entire time, trying to take it all in and memorize every detail, and snapping phone pictures like crazy. It was unreal and I have no idea how everyone else on the flight appeared to be so calm.
We landed in Juneau and were there for about a half an hour before taking the short flight over to Sitka. Juneau was overcast but looked incredible beneath more jagged peaks and the incredible Mendenhall Glacier just sitting there in all its glory. Sitka was sunny and I loved flying over all the tiny islands and seeing the tall peaks standing right up next to the ocean. I wouldn’t mind coming back to either of these places and exploring them some more!
Finally, we flew to Ketchikan and I hurried over to the ferry that goes between the airport and the main island with the town. Ketchikan is known as the rainiest city in the US and it was definitely showing off for my first afternoon there. The ferry docked townside, and I hurried off and into Curtis’ arms, where we shared our first Alaskan kiss. 🙂 We made it! Our first time in Alaska, and our first ‘port call’ — with 38 full hours to spend together!