**Warning: This is a long one. Buckle up**
Just over a week ago, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Anchorage, Alaska! I had been dying to see Alaska for years, and when I met my friend Grace Adams in 2009, I knew I would have to make a trip there someday to visit her. When Grace and I met (in person) for the first time in Vancouver a couple of years ago at a photography meet up, I started imagining what it would be like to visit her and her husband, Austin, at their home in Anchorage. It seemed like nothing more than a fanciful notion at the time, as I knew I wouldn't have the financial means to just go skipping off to Alaska whenever I felt like it.
However, when I was contacted a couple months back by a couple who was eloping to Alaska, I jumped at the opportunity! It could not have worked out more perfectly, and I started planning a week to visit my friends, the Adams's, in Anchorage around the elopement.
The night I arrived is a vague memory because my flight arrived well after midnight, and we were all sleepy as we drove to their home. The next morning, I was so amazed at the little cabin I had the pleasure of staying at for the week. It was nestled in the mountains, overlooking the entire valley all the way to Anchorage. It was peaceful and quiet, and just about everything I could have hoped for.
That afternoon Grace and I went on a little excursion to check out the location that the elopement was to take place, and explore the surrounding area. I was blown away by the mountains surrounding the bay. They stood like guardians over the calm water, and I couldn't resist taking some photos with Grace as we went along.
These mountains absolutely killed me. They were so beautiful in person, and it's difficult to capture them on camera. It isn't quite the same as standing across the bay from them, feeling so small in their presence.
Phew. Sorry, that was a long set of images, but there's something I love about every one of them. I am incapable of limiting images in my blog posts, if you haven't noticed before.
Anyways, the next day was pretty nice and easy. We relaxed and enjoyed the quiet morning while Grace and I caught up on editing and watched a few too many episodes of Friends ;)
Also, I'm obsessed with the Adams' girl cat named Rocket. She is beautiful and perfect and she didn't even make me allergic! Bless this cat.
I had an engagement shoot that evening, so Grace and I scouted out a location she had suggested, and decided this was the perfect place to go. It was beyond beautiful, nestled up in the mountains, with a neverending view of Anchorage below. Gah. I want to go back there in the summer so badly. I'm sure it's even more beautiful then!
A little behind-the-scenes shot Grace captured of me photographing my couple :)
It was so peaceful in the cabin at night. The twinkling lights of the city began to light up the night sky, and the cool blues of the evening made everything feel like a dream. I think nights at the Adams' home is something I'm never going to forget.
The next day we got up bright and early for a fun day at Hatcher Pass! It's about an hour drive outside of Anchorage, up in the snowy mountains, where an abandoned mining town now stands--nestled in the rocky hills.
I felt like I had arrived at Hogwarts or something. It was so perfectly quaint up here!
Of course we had to take turns modeling for each other once we arrived in the mining town. It was super bright, but it made for some excellent lighting for photos :) Here's Austin looking like a mighty fine mine worker/mountain man.
Grace is about 10 weeks along in her pregnancy, so she wanted me to capture a few budding-baby-bump photos for her! She is going to be the cutest pregnant lady and (eventually) mama in the world. No arguments, I speak the truth :)
Haha such goof balls ;) I love them.
Literally the hottest couple in the world.
Austin's friend Blaine came along with us to Hatcher Pass, and it was so much fun to make a new photographer friend on this awesome day adventure :)
As we were heading back down the mountain, it started snowing. It was so magical, I just about died.
Above: Austin before a quick lunch of nacho fries. Believe me, it was heaven in a basket.
Below: "Model shots" of Austin at the Anchorage train depot. Hehe. The light was perfect, I couldn't resist.
We met up with a friend of Grace's, and another fellow photographer, Holly Luiken! She is a stunner, and so incredibly sweet! So glad to have a new Alaskan photographer friend :)
That evening was the big moment, the elopement I had come to Alaska for in the first place! Grace and I were worried that it would be super cold and super windy, but the evening unfolded with the perfect weather. I couldn't have been happier, or felt more blessed. We climbed on top of a gigantic rock on the beach and the ceremony proceeded, with the mountains framing the couple behind and the sparkling sea surrounding us. It was almost too good to be true. I can't wait to share my photos from the elopement soon!
The next day was Easter, and it was the perfect Sunday. I got to attend two churches for their Easter services, one at my own church and one at the Adams' church! I felt so grateful and blessed to be spending the day with such wonderful friends, in such a beautiful place. We had Easter dinner at Austin's grandparent's home, an Easter egg hunt (that I was *this close* to winning), and a lovely evening relaxing in each other's company--and, you guessed it, watching Friends. Love it ;)
On Monday morning, we enjoyed a slow, quiet morning with just the three of us, talking about the past few days and eating reindeer sausage for breakfast ;) Then, it was time for me to fly home. I was so sad to leave this beautiful place, but I am sure I will be back again someday--hopefully very soon :)
Thank you, Grace and Austin, for giving me such a perfect, fun week in Alaska! You two are going to be the best parents, and I am so lucky to have you as friends. I'll be seeing you again soon :)
P.S. Give Nora a huge puppy snuggle for me. And Rocket a well-deserved back scratch.