Wedding and Honeymoon Journal: Entry #11

May 31, 2009 at 10:00 PM (Travel, Wedding)

We got married on May 24, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska on the Gilkey Glacier.  We enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon in Juneau, Alaska as well.  We kept a handwritten journal throughout our trip.  A master list of all journal entries can be found here.

***

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 – 2:26 PM AKDT

Busy, busy, busy!  I didn’t write yesterday at all, so I’ve got a lot of ground to cover.  I’ll start with our activities and go from there.

The first thing we did yesterday was our photo safari.  It consisted of a scenic walk/hike on a pleasant trail followed by two hours on the water.  We got the best pictures.  Our guide was an aspiring photographer named Jennifer and Captain Collin navigated our boat.  I learned a lot about photography, although that really isn’t saying much, since I knew next to nothing from the start.  As most of you know, Stephanie has a pretty snazzy camera that has lots of bells and whistles.  Well, so did everyone else on this trip.  Except for me.  I was all out with my little point and shoot Kodak.  I guess it was like bringing a pinto to a drag race.  I had a lot of fun though, and judging by how excitedly Stephanie was talking, she did too.  We’re going whale watching on Thursday morning, but after our photo safari boat trip on Monday I don’t know that we need to.  We saw, in no particular order: a bald eagle, a trio of sea lions, a baby Minke whale (very rare, apparently), a Humpback mother and calf, s solitary Humpback, and a whole pod of killer whales!  I wasn’t shooting much of anything with my Kodak during the boat ride but I did a lot of spotting and pointing for those who were.  Stephanie even let me steal her camera for a few minutes so that I could feel like a real photographer for a bit.

Our activity that night was a cooking class at Chez Alaska. When we got there we were initially told that the class had been cancelled due to lack of participation.  Apparently a lot of folks on the cruise ship that were scheduled to come to the class cancelled because of the ugly rainy weather, the first rainy day since we’d arrived (definitely atypical for this time of year).  Upon hearing that we were on our honeymoon, though, she ushered us in and we had a cooking class with just Stephanie and I.  We had white king salmon with pasta, the details of which I cannot recall.  I do recall having some excellent beer, an Alaskan Amber followed by an Alaskan Smoked Porter.  Good stuff.

We had to get up really early today to meet our bus for a nature walk.  We were driven to Douglas Island to a fairly newish trail (only 6 years old or so).  Our guide was very knowledgeable and had a pretty good sense of humor.  It was kept at a pretty good pace, so we couldn’t spend as much time taking nature pictures as we would have liked, but the point of this particular activity was to learn more than photography.  I certainly learned a lot about the temperate rain forests of Alaska, so it was well worth the time.

For our meals, we went to The Twisted Fish for lunch yesterday and visited The Hangar again for lunch today.  I had halibut tacos and a roast beef melt for my meals, respectively.  I’ve yet to have anything that hasn’t been very tasty.

We’ll be off to our second salmon bake shortly.  This will be pretty fun, if only because we get to take a float plan to get to it.  I’m excited.

So here are some random Alaska/Juneau facts that I’ve picked up during our time here:

  • There are no snakes in Alaska.
  • Juneau is the 3rd largest “city” in Alaska with a population of about 33,000.  About 10% of that number live on Douglas Island.
  • Right now, Juneau gets about 18 hours of daylight daily.  It seems like more, though , because it is still so light during the dusk period.  The sun comes up around 3 AM and sets a bit for 10 PM.
  • For every 3 people in Juneau, there are 2 boats.  Makes sense for a land-locked place.
  • Good luck getting really nice produce in Juneau.  Everything is shipped in.  Ugh.
  • About half the stores in downtown Juneau are jewelry stores of some sort.  Apparently cruise ship tourists are loaded.
  • Juneau basically exists to run the state government.  The state writes about 70% of the paychecks in Juneau.
  • About watching float planes take off and land in the harbor, I was really surprised how much “runway” they don’t need.  They start moving and lift off and lower speeds.
  • The trees you’ll be seeing a lot of in Juneau are the Sitka spruce (the state tree) and the hemlock (western and mountain versions).
  • You’ve probably heard this, but Juneau, if not the whole of Alaska, really is a post card waiting to happen wherever you look.

Alright, it’s time to take a float plane ride and eat some salmon.  More details to follow!

– Ben

Look up at a Sitka spruce.

Looking up at a Sitka spruce.

Gorgeous scenery in the rainforest.

Gorgeous scenery in the rainforest.

Gorgeous waterfalls everywhere.

Gorgeous waterfalls everywhere.

More awesome waterfalls.

More awesome waterfalls.

Signs of beaver activity.

Signs of beaver activity.

The only snake in Alaska!

The only snake in Alaska!

Our photography safari group.

Our photography safari group.

It rained a bit while we were there.  It really enhanced some of the plants.

It rained a bit while we were there. It really enhanced some of the plants.

Another beautiful waterfall.

Another beautiful waterfall.

Beautiful, green, crisp foliage everywhere.

Beautiful, green, crisp foliage everywhere.

Husband and wife in the rainforest.

Husband and wife in the rainforest.

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

Chunks of ice floating in the water.

Chunks of ice floating in the water.

The Mendenhall Glacier

The Mendenhall Glacier

Beautiful scenery for the water portion of our photo safari.

Beautiful scenery for the water portion of our photo safari.

An orca (aka killer whale).

An orca (aka killer whale).

A bird skimming the water.

A bird skimming the water.

Orca

Orca

Humpback whale.

Humpback whale.

Humpback whale.

Humpback whale.

A bald eagle.

A bald eagle.

Another shot of the bald eagle.

Another shot of the bald eagle.

More beautiful scenery.

More beautiful scenery.

Cute sea lion poking its nose out of the water.

Cute sea lion poking its nose out of the water.

Auke Bay

Auke Bay

Alaskan cooking school!

Alaskan cooking school!

We had some yummy local beer with dinner.

We had some yummy local beer with dinner.

We were the only ones in this class.

We were the only ones in this class.

Ben really enjoyed this one.

Ben really enjoyed this one.

Another yummy brew.

Another yummy brew.

Lorraine made our meal and taught us a few things.

Lorraine made our meal and taught us a few things.

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Wedding and Honeymoon Journal: Entry #10

May 31, 2009 at 2:03 PM (Travel, Wedding)

We got married on May 24, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska on the Gilkey Glacier.  We enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon in Juneau, Alaska as well.  We kept a handwritten journal throughout our trip.  A master list of all journal entries can be found here.

***

Monday, May, 25, 2009 – 9:50 PM AKDT

Boy, today was a long one!  We got a later start than we wanted and almost missed our pickup for the dogsled camp.  It was fantastic!

We got to learn a lot about the history of dog sledding.  There were about one hundred dogs at this camp, but a large majority of them ignored us when we got there.  We got to spend a fair amount of time meeting (and by meeting, I mean petting, getting licked by, and talking in baby voices to) the dogs that make up our team that would pull our cart.

These dogs LOVE to run.  Once the dogs started getting in their harness and were being hooked up to our cart, every dog in the place went absolutely bonkers.  ALL of the dogs were barking.  The dogs that were harnessed to the cart were going nuts too.  They were jumping and trying to pull the cart.  Once they were given the go ahead to take off though, everything got silent.

It is definitely odd to be in a cart pulled by dogs.  For one, they are dogs.  Horses, ponies, donkeys…we’re used to being pulled by them.  But being pulled by dogs is a different story.  Secondly there are no reigns or anything.  Molly, whose team was pulling us, basically was riding the brake to keep the dogs at a reasonable pace.  She used voice commands to get the lead dogs to change directions.  Otherwise, the dogs simply ran as they pleased.  Maybe I am a control freak, but it is a bit disconcerting to be pulled along based on where a dog wants to go.

After the cart ride, we got to hold puppies.  Stephanie was particularly excited about this, since I think she asked when we’d get to hold the puppies about a hundred times.  Well, maybe it was only two or three times, but either way, puppies were the big draw for her.  And, yes, the puppies were a lot of fun.

After we left the dogsled camp, we had a slight fiasco with the rental car.  Since we were running late and had a ton of trouble finding a place to park, in our haste we did not take note of exactly where we had parked the car.  After making circles around a few blocks, eventually I left Stephanie at a small “mall” and went after the car on my own.  I found it and went to the mall to pick up my beautiful wife.  I got a heck of a workout, though.  I didn’t know it was possible to have every street be uphill, but I think Juneau found a way to do it.

Car located, we went to the first of two salmon bakes we have scheduled for this week.  It was an outdoor affair with a beautiful waterfall and a wonderful forest setting.  Since I’m not the biggest salmon fan, I was happy to see that they had chicken as well.  I even had a small piece of salmon, since it was a salmon bake after all.  Everything was pretty tasty.  Definitely a nice low key meal.

Once we finished eating dinner, we realized that we still had a fair amount of time left in the evening.  It seemed like a great opportunity to make a trip on the Mt. Roberts tram, so that is exactly what we did.

The view from the gondola on the way up and down the mountain was awesome.  Also, at the top of the mountain was a captive bald eagle.  Apparently this bald eagle had been shot in the beak and a wing.  As a result, she was unable to fly and also lost her left eye.  So now she lives at the top of the mountain and gets to live on salmon.  That isn’t so bad.  All of that aside, though, she was still majestic and beautiful.  Once again, awesome pictures!

I hope I don’t get too senile when I get old.  Four or five cruise ships in port, so about ten thousand folks, were dumped into downtown Juneau.  Of these ten thousand people, at least ninety percent of them are geriatric and would fail the Ben-Fishel-Brown-Official-Old-People-Shouldn’t-Be-Allowed-To-Drive-Test.  This is what I’m afraid of becoming.  I won’t even go into what it is like driving in a downtown area full of these people.  Just walking is infuriating.  These old people walk four-wide on the sidewalk.  The sidewalk can only support four people in any direction in total.  And boy do they walk slowly!  Well, it isn’t so much walking as it is shuffling.  Slightly faster than crawling.  Still, I cannot full articulate the rage that these deaf, slow, annoying people incite in me.  It’s been an awesome trip so far, but I can’t find words to express the joy I felt when I saw a cruise ship leaving the port this afternoon.

So if you all ever see me turning into this type of annoying old person, please just put me out of my misery.  Chances are good that I’ll have a fanny pack if my dementia has taken this sort of hold on me, so check it for loose change and then burn it.

Tomorrow we have our photo safari and then an Alaskan cooking school class.  It’s going to be awesome!

– Ben

Downtown Juneau.

Downtown Juneau.

Downtown Juneau.

Downtown Juneau.

We toured an old gold mine on our way up the mountain towards the dog sledding camp.

We toured an old gold mine on our way up the mountain towards the dog sledding camp.

Scenic view on our way up the mountain.

Scenic view on our way up the mountain.

Summer dog sledding camp.

Summer dog sledding camp.

Adorable photo in the museum area of the dog sledding camp.

Adorable photo in the museum area of the dog sledding camp.

Getting ready for the ride.

Getting ready for the ride.

Excited about the upcoming ride.

Excited about the upcoming ride.

Running like crazy.

Running like crazy.

We could see a bear out in the distance from the dog sledding camp!

We could see a bear out in the distance from the dog sledding camp!

Beautiful scenery.

Beautiful scenery.

Learning about the Iditarod.

Learning about the Iditarod.

Holding an adorable puppy.

Holding an adorable puppy.

Ben holding the runt of the litter.

Ben holding the runt of the litter.

Salmon Creek salmon bake.

Salmon Creek salmon bake.

Lots of tables at the salmon bake.  Very casual, country-like setting.

Lots of tables at the salmon bake. Very casual, country-like setting.

Beautiful waterfalls on the salmon bake property.

Beautiful waterfalls on the salmon bake property.

Salmon grilling.

Salmon grilling.

Cruise ships in Juneau.  View from the Mt. Roberts tram.

Cruise ships in Juneau. View from the Mt. Roberts tram.

Another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Yet another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Yet another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Captive bald eagle on top of Mt. Roberts.

Captive bald eagle on top of Mt. Roberts.

Interesting sign on top of Mt. Roberts.

Interesting sign on top of Mt. Roberts.

Another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Another gorgeous view from the Mt. Robert's tram.

Ben writing this journal entry.

Ben writing this journal entry.

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Wedding and Honeymoon Journal: Entry #9

May 31, 2009 at 11:43 AM (Travel, Wedding)

We got married on May 24, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska on the Gilkey Glacier.  We enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon in Juneau, Alaska as well.  We kept a handwritten journal throughout our trip.  A master list of all journal entries can be found here.

***

Monday, May 25, 2009 — 8:49 PM AKDT

In the spirit of our first dance song as husband and wife, yesterday can be described with two words–so amazing.  I couldn’t sleep very well so I got up at 5 AM AKDT.  I walked around the gardens at Pearson’s Pond and called my mom.  Ben didn’t gt up until after 8 AM.  We ate breakfast and then I started doing my makeup around 11 AM.  I was almost finished with my makeup when the hairstylist, Virginia, arrived.  She was awesome.  Very down to earth and easy to talk to.  She has lived in Alaska most of her life so it was fun asking her questions about the area.  When I finally got to see my hair, I almost cried.  I was really happy with the hair style.

Seanna, our photographer, arrived soon thereafter.  I loved her instantly.  I finished my makeup and then she and Diane helped me get into my dress.  Ben helped make lunch while I was getting ready.  Diane even fed me while I was getting ready.  Haha!  Seanna took photos of me alone in the gardens while Ben was dressing.

It was a magical moment both when I saw myself for the first time and when Ben saw me.  I found myself getting emotional standing there waiting on him surrounded by beautiful gardens.  We spent a good amount of time having photos taken together.  It was a lot of fun.  There were many humorous moments including me squeezing Ben’s booty and us being surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes.  Sienna was such a great sport.

All of us then headed to the heliport.  The staff was so friendly.  They helped me put on my blue polka dot socks and shoes/boots.  While we were hanging out, a group of Spanish people came into the room where we were and treated us like celebrities.  They even took photos with us.  It was hilarious.  After our safety briefing, we headed out to the helicopter.  I had been dreading getting in to the helicopter but things went very smoothly.  Before heading up, I warned the pilot of my motion susceptibility and he promised to take good care of me.  The flight to the glacier was phenomenal although I did feel pretty sick at times.  The scenery was breathtaking and looking back it still feels like a dream.

After landing, our awesome guide, Chris, help us put on crampons which are metal spikes that wrap around boots.  We walked to a beautiful blue glacier “pond” and started the ceremony after a few photos.

The ceremony was great.  I fought back tears throughout Diane’s opening words and openly cried during my vows.  Ben also choked up.  It was a beautiful moment that I had been looking forward to for my entire life.  Everything felt so right and the words were only a fraction of the joy that I felt at that moment in time and feel as I write this now.  To be honest, everything was and is so overwhelming in a positive way.  I really can’t even describe how magical and powerful the setting was.

After the ceremony, Ben and I were given glasses of champagne as Diane gave a toast.  We then cut our horribly melted cake that actually ended up looking like a glacier.  Haha!  It was tasty though.  Lastly, we had our first dance as husband and wife to Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing.”

The flight back to the heliport was, again, spectacular.  We even saw mountain goats which was awesome.  We unloaded ourselves from the helicopter and headed inside to sign our marriage license.  We sadly hugged Seanna and said goodbye.  It was also hard saying goodbye to all of the awesome people at Northstar Trekking.

Back at the inn, I quickly and happily got out of my dress so we could head out to eat dinner.  I wasn’t feeling very well on the drive to the inn.  I felt like I could vomit at any given moment.  That feeling lasted halfway through dinner.  And then it magically disappeared.  It was the worst feeling in the world.  I think it was a combination of motion sickness, stress, and fatigue.

All in all though, the day was truly spectacular.  I married my best friend in a setting that would make the most wordy person speechless.  In the most pure of settings I became one with Ben.  The day couldn’t have been better.

– Mrs. Fishel-Brown

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Wedding and Honeymoon Journal: Entry #8

May 31, 2009 at 11:05 AM (Travel, Wedding)

We got married on May 24, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska on the Gilkey Glacier.  We enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon in Juneau, Alaska as well.  We kept a handwritten journal throughout our trip.  A master list of all journal entries can be found here.

***

Monday, May 25, 2009 – 9:32 AM AKDT

Had a hard time waking up this morning; felt like I had a hangover despite the lack of alcohol last night.  I think adrenaline and excitement have similar effects.

So we’re officially married now.  I need to practice scribbling my name and having a legible hyphen in there somewhere.  Stephanie writes her signature pretty slowly, too, so who knows how much time an extra hyphen and five letters will add to it.  She’s going to dread signing for anything for a while now.

The weather since we arrived has been absolutely outstanding.  In our wildest dreams I don’t think we could have imagined or scripted better weather.  It’s been sunny and I’ve been wearing nothing but short sleeves (Note: Ben did wear other stuff besides short sleeves.  The wording of his sentence is interesting.  Haha! ;)).  The weather, according to the photographer, was perfect when we were on the glacier.  It was slightly overcast with a little sun.  Apparently if it has been really sunny we would have run the risk of getting washed out in the pictures, especially Stephanie with her white dress against the white glacier.  Sienna (pronounced Shawna) was awesome.  She was a busy bee, running all over the place taking pictures.  Normally, I’d consider myself a prime person to become wooden and somewhat unnatural when a camera comes out, but Sienna did an awesome job.  She made both of us very comfortable and we had a lot of laughs during the photography process.  If you ever come to Juneau and need a photographer, we both highly recommend her.

I absolutely loved the helicopter ride.  Besides actually getting married, it was the single activity I was most excited about.  I was in no way disappointed.  It was fantastic!  Even now, the day after, I’m having trouble putting it into words.  I suppose I could tell you to imagine yourself in a National Geographic video, but that wouldn’t do it justice.  I mean, when you’re in a helicopter doing a slow motion bob and weave between mountains…gosh, there’s no real way to fully describe it.  I’m hoping that more and better descriptive words and phrases will come to me as I write more in the journal over the coming week.  It was just an amazing experience that I hope to do again someday.  Not the wedding part, just the helicopter part, you negative thinkers.  Ha!

As for the wedding, I’m going to steal a word Stephanie has been using all week.  Surreal.  Everything is so surreal.  Or was surreal.  I am floating right now and proper verb tense is escaping me.  Again, I can’t find the words to do the surrounding justice.

Stephanie looked amazing.  I don’t think I can recall being stopped speechless at seeing something like I was when I saw her in her wedding dress.  Imagine being on the second level of a deck and looking down into a lush garden area and seeing the most beautiful woman in the world surrounded by beautiful flowers and foliage.  It was breathtaking.  Definitely a memory and image that will be in my mind forever.

Our small wedding cake didn’t travel so well.  It was left in the car at the helicopter place for just a little too long and melted a little bit, making it a bit lopsided.  That was the only thing that didn’t go absolutely perfectly.  The ceremony was nice, simple, and not too long.  Perfect as far as I’m concerned.

Chris was our guide, and he met us on the glacier when we landed.  He was really nice and helpful.  He even took a bunch of pictures during out wedding ad on the flight back.  In fact, they just delivered the pictures he took here at Pearson’s Pond this morning.  They are awesome!  If you need helicopter service in Juneau, call Northstar Trekking.  The whole staff, including Chris, was really nice and incredibly helpful.  They really helped make a busy, stressful day a lot more fun and enjoyable.

Today we have a trip to a dogsled camp planned for a little after lunch.  I think we’re both pretty psyched about it.  We actually flew over a dogsled camp on the ice fields during our helicopter trip, but I was too entranced at the time to ask if that was the one we were going to be visiting.  Based on the short description I read I don’t believe that to be the case, but it might be something we’ll want to look into for a return visit.

Tonight we’re going to a salmon bake, and I’m interested to see how salmon is prepared in the salmon capital of the world.  Another busy day!

– Ben

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Wedding and Honeymoon Journal: Entry #7

May 30, 2009 at 10:52 PM (Travel, Wedding)

We got married on May 24, 2009 in Juneau, Alaska on the Gilkey Glacier.  We enjoyed a spectacular honeymoon in Juneau, Alaska as well.  We kept a handwritten journal throughout our trip.  A master list of all journal entries can be found here.

***

Sunday, May 24, 2009 — 10:44 PM AKDT

We are officially the Fishel-Browns!  Awesome, eh?!  I won’t really try to cover the experience right now.  Stephanie will write about that when she journals or I’ll come back to it when I can find the words.  I’m just too jazzed right now!

We had a so-so meal at what is supposed to be the ritziest place in Juneau.  Dessert, excellent.  Meal, okay.  Service, two thumbs down.  On the plus side, they comped Stephanie’s meal and both desserts, so not paying for stuff is definitely cool.

It’s late, so that’s enough for now.  More tomorrow, I promise!!

– Ben

A heart made of rose petals was waiting for us when we returned to our room after the wedding.

A heart made of rose petals was waiting for us when we returned to our room after the wedding.

Our friends Gary and Jenna as well as Stephanie's co-workers Lori and Diane bought romance packages for us.  Bottles of champagne, chocolates, and romantic music CDs were waiting in our room.

Our friends Gary and Jenna as well as Stephanie's co-workers Lori and Diana bought romance packages for us. Bottles of champagne, chocolates, and romantic music CDs were waiting in our room.

Stephanie's bouquet post-wedding.

Stephanie's bouquet post-wedding.

Ben's boutonnière post-wedding.

Ben's boutonnière post-wedding.

Fresh bread was also waiting in our room.

Fresh bread was also waiting in our room.

The beautiful white roses that were waiting in our room.

The beautiful white roses that were waiting in our room.

The bobby pins from Stephanie's hair post-wedding.

The bobby pins from Stephanie's hair post-wedding.

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