Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Final days in Alaska


Today we took a water taxi from Seward into the Kenai Fjords! We are at Kayakers Cove for the night. Once we got settled in, we had 20 minutes so we decided to go on a quick hike. However, we couldn’t find the trail so we ended up scaling the mountainside… once we realized we weren’t on the path, we had to turn back! We had the choice of going on a long or short kayak expedition through the fjords; I obviously chose the longer one! I had thought that I was well prepared for the 6 hour journey (6-7 miles) through the freezing rain and wind and waves, but I realized that I had never ACTUALLY kayaked like that before!! Corryn was my partner, and as soon as we set out into the water, we began playing the word association game because there was nothing else to do besides look around and feel exhausted. We ended up playing the game for 7 hours straight!! The highlight of the kayak excursion, which Justin and Ariane went on with us, is that at our turnaround point, we stumbled upon a giant rock with hundreds of seagulls with nests and 2 separate colonies of sea lions lounging on giant rocks a couple hundred meters apart! We first went to the farther of the two colonies, and we ended up getting so close that the sea lions felt threatened and charged us! All at once, the huge animals threw themselves from the rock into the water and started swimming in a large and loud pack! It was terrifying and I was screaming. Once we finished taking pictures of them, we went back to the first rock of sea lions and nearly the same thing happened again! It was insane. On the way back, Corryn and I were at the back, so we talked with Justin for nearly the entire time. The fjords were extremely old, majestic, and Jurassic looking. They were gorgeous! We paddled by waterfalls, caves, and islands with clouds settled low over the trees. Once we finally reached the hostel, I had a burrito (it was nearly 10 at night, but still light) and then went on a hike with Jack, Corryn, Christian, and others. This time, we found the trail and climbed it to a boulder field! The boulder field was very interesting and serene. The forest that we hiked through together was so mystical! The green moss and ground were so vibrant it felt like I was in a fairy tale! After our hike, we met up with everyone else at the campfire that Justin made and had some GIANT s'mores! After a while, some of the guys decided it would be fun if they stripped down and jumped into the freezing water, and they did!! It was so funny! After that fiasco, we hung around the fire until 2 a.m. I finally went to bed around 2:30 because I was waking up the next morning at 5 to go on an early morning kayak!

7/8 and 7/9

This morning’s kayak was fantastic. Only Jane, Corryn, and Maeve woke up with me to go out early with Justin. Unlike yesterday, the water was as clear as glass, so we leisurely paddled and glided against the shoreline. That was very good because my upper body has never been so sore in my entire life!! The sun came out for the first time in 4 days, so we just floated along admiring the snow covered mountain tops and the sun hitting the land. After an hour and a half, we beached on a remote island and just sat together talking and admiring the fjords for an hour and a half. It was so amazing because we talk about everything! Once we had finished on the beach, we started back to the hostel, but we basically floated along and talked more about deep topics. It is so interesting how everyone has such different beliefs yet still has similar underlying feelings. We found a patch of sunlight and floated together and talked and talked and talked. It was heaven. After more hours, we finally went back into the hostel because we had to pack out bag. This 5 hour long kayak was one of the most fun I had ever had! Around 12:20 the water taxi picked us up and took us back into Seward. There, we grabbed our big backpacks and headed towards Anchorage. The car ride was 3 hours, and because it was our last one together, everyone was a little bummed, but we jammed out to music the entire way! We reached Anchorage at 4:45 and we were told that we had until 8:45 to finalize our On Assignment projects for presenting. On Assignment projects for photography are about going through all of your best pictures and finding 10-20 that have a similar theme, and then we have to present our project to everyone at dinner. For my O/A, I had two options: isolation and colors. When I asked Justin which he thought I should do, he told me I should do both! I was very surprised because no one else was doing two, but he said that both of mine were very strong, so I was happy. For my color project, I had to do some confusing Photoshop thing to make the pictures into pairs that Justin said would make them look best. So, I ended up working on my projects for the entire 4 hours! When I finally finished, I ran upstairs and threw on my dress and got out the door! I was happy to wear a dress because this entire trip I have looked like such a homeless man it is disgusting. At dinner, I feasted. I had salad, steak, mashed potatoes, and crème brulée! Justin selected me to go first, and I was extremely nervous about talking in front of everyone, but I did it! Everyone liked my pictures… I was proud! Of the other O/As, Christian’s was great! He made a film from such a unique perspective; it was amazing. Dinner and the presentations ended at 11:30 and we got back to the hostel at midnight! Because it was the last night, no one wanted to go to bed so we all hung out downstairs! At 1, Paul got us sharpies and Maeve and I drew all of our names and inside jokes on the wall! Then I talked with Justin and Olivia till 2:45 and we went upstairs. I was pretty tired because I was running on 3 hours of sleep from the night before, but excitement kept happening! Olivia was walking into the women’s restroom, but as she opened the door, there was a hobo passed out in there with the shower running!! She sprints to Justin’s room freaking out, and Justin started pushing the door onto the man to wake him up. After, he told us to go back to our room. We listened against the door though, and the middle aged and big man was being very aggressive towards Justin. After some somewhat quiet verbal intimidation, Justin forced the man outside, even when he started making advances towards Justin! It was so intense and crazy that I was totally awake! Afterwards (around 3:30) Justin and Paul came into our room and said they called the cops and told us what happened. We finally fell asleep around 4, and I periodically woke up through the night because the sun was already rising high in the sky! In the morning, we sent off Jack because he was leaving with his dad. We went back to the pancake house that we went to on the first morning, and it felt like the trip had come in a full circle! On the way there, we listened to some super depressing music, and tears came into my eyes. After breakfast and taking another group picture, we began to drive to the airport. Justin told us how much he appreciated us and how amazing the trip was and how much he will miss us, and some other things.  We were all sobbing. We turned on our main car songs, and got to the airport. By that time I was crying so much, and I said goodbye to Justin a bunch of times. He told me some VERY nice things and words of encouragement and then we went our separate ways. I was most upset about leaving Justin because he is truly an amazing and inspirational person and he completely changed my outlook on life. Next, we said goodbye to Maeve with more tears, and then Corryn left us at the gate. Finally, I am emotionally exhausted on the airplane but immensely grateful for being able to go on this trip. I had the best time I have ever had in my life, and I am devastated that it has come to an end, but as Justin says, “Cry because it is over, AND smile because it happened.”

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