I posted ages on my Facebook page that I’d share some of my photography with you guys. It’s taken me a while to get around to this, so I apologise for that. Christmas and sekrit projects have been monopolizing my time. I’m not exactly Ansel Adams, but I do enjoy snapping off some shots every once in a while.
I think very visually, which makes writing very interesting. Transferring images—whether they’re in your head, imagined or remembered, or something you’re directly looking at—to words is obviously one of the fundamental skills of writing. It’s something writers never stop learning how to do. If they say they’ve got that skill nailed down, they’ve stopped trying.
Anyway, being a visual person makes it really enjoyable for me to think of new and different ways to explain and describe scenes and locations. People, too.
Travel is one of my passions, and so this—sharing pictures and a few words about the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit—is combining all my favorite things.
The first place I wanted to share with you guys is Alaska.
I’ve been writing a post apocalyptic romance set in Alaska for about three years now. It’s a little labour of love that I manage to get a page down on here and there in between other projects every once in a while. When I started researching the place to start the story, I immediately fell in love. I knew I absolutely had to go there. So, we went.
Hubby and I packed up our winter hiking gear and we got on a plane, and many, MANY hours later, we found ourselves in Fairbanks.
Three words to describe Alaska in February: Really. Fucking. Cold.
That part’s obvious, of course. I knew it was going to be cold, but this was literally shocking. My body felt like it was shutting down as I stepped out of the airport. My eyelashes froze together. It felt as thought the air was freezing inside my lungs. And I loved it.
It was -41ºC the day we arrived. If you stood outside for more than two minutes without a jacket, you would die. Probably. That part might be hyperbole, but it might also be true. Honestly, the only difference between the arctic circle and Fairbanks while we were there was that there was a Starbucks, power points to plug your cars into (you have to do this otherwise the gas turns to gloop) and you could buy a foot long from subway for $5. Everything else was pretty much the same.
People thought we were crazy when we told them we were heading off to one of the most hostile environments on the planet, during it’s most hostile time of the year. But I’m a winter girl. An average-at-best-but-really-enthusiastic skier. I hike and climb in winter. I love being in the mountains when they’re covered in snow.
I can’t remember the name of this mountain but it was just outside Fort Wainwright, and the military use it to run up and down in summer. We walked up it and it too FOREVER. I’m pretty sure I should be embarrassed.
The picture below is one of my favourites. And yes, it’s a little blurry. My inner photographer cringes when I look at it, but there’s a perfectly good reason for the smudginess, I swear. I already mentioned it was -41ºC, right? Well, in order to operate my camera outside, I had to take off my gloves. And to get a shot like this you’d normally need a tripod. There are a few reasons for this. It was dark, with low lighting, so I needed to keep the aperture open longer. And when you open the aperture for a long time, you need to keep absolutely freaking still. Even the pressure of your heart pumping blood around your body will create a blur in circumstances like this. I had no tripod, and my hands were starting to develop frostbite, so I was shaking just a touch there.
We were staying in this amazing hostel run by a crazy German guy called Mario. I was getting more and more anxious because we hadn’t seen the northern lights yet. Apparently, the best time to catch the lights was at around two or three am, so every morning we would set an alarm and get up at two to see if the sky was lit up. And every morning we were out of luck. But this day, Valentine’s day, it just so happened, we’d just come back from dog sledding at around 7pm and we were unclipping the crazy dogs from our sleds, and the sky just exploded. From horizon to horizon, huge swathes of green and beautiful orange-pink light twisted across the sky. It was incredible.
It sounds very cliche, but that was probably the very first time in my life that I’ve been truly awe-struck. The cold didn’t seem to matter anymore. We stood outside and stared up at the sky for three hours, knowing we were very blessed to be experiencing something so incredible, and not wanting it to end.
Mario said it was the most amazing aurora borealis display he’d seen in his entire life and he’d lived in Alaska for ten years. And speaking of Mario, we were so lucky to spend time with such an interesting character and his dogs. Taking so many of them for a walk in hip-deep snow was an experience, for sure. The love Mario had for his animals was incredible and very obvious.
He rolled around in the snow with them.
And when they couldn’t walk any further, he carried them. The dog Mario is carrying here was called Ghost and he was 14 years old. He was such a gentle husky. The pack were crazy and full of energy, running all over the place, while Ghost had crippling arthritis. He was fierce as all hell, though. He definitely didn’t want to get left behind. He plodded along at the back, but he never gave up.
I kept the old guy company.
Even the DH loved him.
I still haven’t finished my Alaskan post-apocolyptic romance yet, but I’m not gonna give up on it. Maybe because it felt like I got to have my own Alaskan post-apocolyptic romance with the guy below (it really does feel like the end of the earth), or maybe it’s just because I don’t like giving up on things. Either way, I hope I can do justice to this amazing place in my writing.