bitten & bleary-eyed

Original post published with Postfly The Wade blog.

This was my third trip to Alaska in 10 months – it was time to bring the fly rod.

I arrived in Fairbanks on a Monday evening after a planes-trains-and-automobiles-kind-of-day. It’s a 5-hour drive to the airport from my modest, middle-of-nowhere abode in southern Colorado. Then, it’s a mad dash through security, hop the train to the gate and endure a 3+-hour flight, an hour-long layover and one more (4-hour) flight until I could grab a rental car and resolve myself to time zone shifts and a cup of tea in my hotel room.

The sun isn’t setting

I thought sleep would come easy. I was wrong. I pulled the blinds only to realize they were stationary; mounted like a useless piece of wall art purchased and hung over a decade ago. I grabbed a random piece of hotel furniture from across the room and shoved it into the sliding glass door, sandwiching said curtains just enough to allow me to blanket the light and ease my over-tired eyes. All the while, I couldn’t help but think about the unexpectedly-muddy river views from seat 10F. Though the waters I saw from above appeared blown out, I told myself that was probably some other river. The Chena will be fine…it’s grayling season after all…all the websites told me this is the time of year to fish this place! I was still (naïvely) hopeful to land some arctic bullets.

The game plan

My professional priority that week was not landing fish. I had work to do and it had nothing to do with setting up new reels, matching flies to hatches, or navigating to unknown fishing spots beyond town limits. My personal priority, however (if I must travel for work and be away from my family, I’m going to indulge), hummed a different tune. I readied my gear and on day 2 – during a lunch break, of course – B-lined it to the local fly shop with a colleague from the lower 48 and fellow fly-fisher.  


We walked into the shop determined, headed to the fly counter and found “The Guy to Talk To”. I knew our time was fleeting, so I cut to the chase: We’ve got two days and I’d really, really like to land a grayling – what do you think? He paused for a long moment – like, the kind of pause that translates to “you don’t want to know what I think because you’re not gonna like it”. I waited. He stumbled over his words, apologizing for all the things out of both of our control. The weather got us. This spring was an exceptionally wet one across the region – even though fires were still burning – and the Chena was, in fact, blown out. The fishing was off and mild storms were stacking up for the foreseeable future…he thought we might have a chance floating it, but there was no time for that.

As he marked up a poorly rendered, mass-produced, not-even-close-to-being-to-scale tourist map for “theoretical” productive grayling spots, his eyes lit up a little bit and I watched him write the word. He didn’t speak it and promptly required we take an oath of silence. It was early for them to show up, but word on the street was: They were there. This place didn’t exist and we heard nothing. Whether the outcome was feisty, silvery wild arctic grayling or spawning pigs didn’t matter – the pursuit for anything was on at this point. We grabbed our licenses, flies and headed back to our meeting (late).

I clenched to what little hope I had left

Later than afternoon, we made the drive out to the site-we-shall-not-speak-of…

What should have been a scenic, 30-minute cruise turned into over an hour of navigating in circles, passing one busted, rusted front yard-full of cars, trucks, busses and boats after the next, searching for a cell signal and the slight chance our phones’ maps would reveal a blue spot among on the tan. Found it.

We opened the doors and were immediately met with a cloud of relentless blood-suckers: Welcome to Alaska. We walked.

Stay to the right, pass the ponds, follow the trail about 50 yards. I replayed the words spoken by the “Guy to Talk To” in my head – all the while hollering “HEY BEAR! HEEEYYY BEAR! WHERE’S MY MONEY, BEAR?!” (pretty sure my colleague now things I’m a crazy woman). When we spotted the trail, my hopes boosted a bit.

Reality set in

Cast…cast…walk…cast…swap flies…cast…pass another set of moose tracks…holler for bears…cast…

The waters were muddy, high, and fast. Dries weren’t working and swinging colorful streamers produced a whole lot of nothing. Some time later, with hands and foreheads swollen from the locals indulging on our lifeblood (and daylight still blazing in the land of the midnight sun) we decided to call it. It was getting late and we passed a promising brewery down the road, after all.

10F views.jpeg
Views from seat 10F weren’t promising.


Stay right.
Wild fish, will bushwhack.


Setup along the banks of a spot that never existed.


Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 12.47.51
The only thing more on point than the latest Ross Evolution LTX was the mosquito situation. Alaska doesn’t play – these things might lift anglers up and carry them away.


Point and Shoot
Point and shoot. If the water were lower, less muddy and less mosquito-ridden it wouldn’t be spring in Alaska.


midnight sun.jpeg
Land of the midnight sun is a fitting name and the redeye home provided impeccable views.


Alaska Photoset
The day after getting skunked I heard of another “secret spot” south of the city, unfortunately, “they” hadn’t arrived this far up stream quite yet.


 the condition of being spontaneous; spontaneous behavior or action; voluntary or undetermined action or movement
I have always believed that “adventures” don’t have to be epic journeys across land or water in search of life’s meaning or one’s self. Rather, “adventure” (to me, anyway) is more along the lines of embarking on something without any real intended end goal (think, rambling, perhaps) other than “just to go” or have fun, or maybe indulging in “play” for the sake of being outdoors and letting the moment take you where it may. Maybe I’ll hone my definition some day…
Spontaneous adventuring is something we do often and one of the characteristics I have always appreciated about my husband – even before he was my husband. A willingness to not over plan (but still be prepared for nearly anything) and just embrace time and events that come with whatever we may be doing in a given day, or weekend, or evening/morning/name your timeframe.
With a 2 year old and another wild child on the way, spontaneous adventuring is often our way of life. Yes, we plan different activities like camping trips, bike fishing days, and other things, but when it’s 6PM on a Tuesday night and we all need to burn off a little energy after a not-so-inspiring work or school day, we just go.
Just “going” comes easy for me and I am pretty sure it alway has – I attribute it to my inner gypsy – and I certainly hope it always does. So, now, with 8 weeks left until we meet the newest addition to our family and a lot of summer and fall transition time in between, I’m ready. I’m ready to keep going, to not slow down (too much) and to indulge in spontaneity whenever it presents itself.
Are you?

winding down

Transition seasons. I absolutely LOVE transition seasons.

I am intentional with most decisions in my life. I like to have a plan (but still be spontaneous at times) and for that (and maybe a few other reasons), my husband often calls me “Type A”. I’ll take it as a compliment (most of the time) because I think it means I’m intentional and determined…while not being a total stick-in-the-mud lame-o. That’s right, I used both of those words/phrases.

What does this have to do with transition seasons? A lot, oddly. There is something so magical about the shoulder of time between summer and winter – and winter and spring, for that matter. While I love wading the cooler river water in the hot summer sun and skiing the amazing powder of winter, fall is a time for me to gather, plan, maybe nest a bit and indulge in the transition from constant new life and growth of the summer to more of a hibernation, calm state of the colder months to come.

I am intentional in this process – I planned my wedding around this season, I am deliberate with finding landscapes and opportunities to photograph new people and places during this season (because who doesn’t love fall colors!?), and I tend to reorganize and restock the pantry and freezers (wild game, frozen garden goods, etc).

As we embrace cooler weather and a new season, I hope you, too, are both intentional and spontaneous as the days get shorter, the sun gets lower, and summer comes to an end and the fall season gets into full swing!

happily ever

I do a lot of different photography – “lifestyle”, family portraits, marketing and photosets for the myriad of pieces I write for various publications and blogs – but I particularly love capturing authentic stories. Cue weddings…

These are days full of anticipation, excitement and maybe even anxiousness. Family and friends gather together – some that haven’t been in the same time zone for quite some time – and celebrate two incredibly special people that share and incredibly special love. How much more authentic can you get?

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a couple I met earlier this year for their engagement session, and photographed their big day. It was a new venue for me – and one I hope to visit again since it was right on the river with some nice fishing holes 😉

Congrats to Bre and a Michael and the joining of two wonderful families…and thank you for the opportunity to capture your day so that your memories will never fade…

Travel, they said…

Occasionally, my jobs require me to travel. Sometimes for weddings, other times for assignments, and even others for meetings and project facilitation work. But, since having my son, travel slowed down a bit.

Prior to my first pregnancy and his birth, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be gone 1 to 2 weeks a month, leaving that sweet and understanding husband of mine to watch over the farm or chickens or dogs or what/whoever else we had going on. Don’t get me wrong – he came with me when it was so enticing that he couldn’t say no (like our 2.5 week stint in the islands when I had to work in a windowless room while he fished the lazy day away) but that was rare.

And when Forest was born, he came on DC travels until this one. Babies under 2 are considered a “lap child” and ride for free, but free doesn’t make it easy!

Well, with an older toddler, so goes the excuse that I “can’t travel” because of x, y, z (i.e., nursing, need to be home to care for a baby, pregnancy recovery, etc.). So, for the past few months, I’ve traveled a bit here and there. Mostly local, in-state overnights to Denver with occasional random travel down south and to DC.

But this past week, I had another meeting in DC, so I took advantage of the opportunity to piggy back on a work trip and celebrate my big sis on her birthday- for the first time, like, EVER.

So we went big: SUP’ing, shopping, hanging with our dad and beach lounging! What a great way to spend a surprisingly beautiful couple of days back east.

When we parted ways, I felt more grateful than ever to have my sister.

Now, I sit in the airport and wait. My day started at 3am and it won’t end until after dark, thanks to delays, cancellations and missed flights. But, at least I can reminisce, right?

Traveling can be fun. It can be challenging, too. But the fact that I’m blessed enough to have the opportunity to DO it – now, That, is what I need to keep reminding myself of so I don’t lose my mind on tough return trips like today’s.

rambling across the mountains of colorado seeking adventure and inspiration…