When I say this one is a good one, I mean it. I’ve spent the last couple years writing about other couples’ love stories, capturing their moments, and celebrating their “I do’s”. Now, it’s my turn to tell mine! This blog is near and dear to my heart for so many reasons. I’m sharing all about my trip to Alaska, my engagement story, and the time spent catching up with Ethan and my best friends. This trip was just extraordinary… So without further ado, I’m sharing with you the one where I get engaged: Alaska trip recap. 🤗
If you know me, you know that road trips are my jam. But believe it or not, we didn’t drive from Minnesota to Alaska 😉 The first part of our trip was really just flying from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Anchorage, Alaska. I couldn’t wait to step foot in Alaska and to finally hug my best friend! Her and her husband have lived up in Alaska for just a few months, so it was a dream to be able to visit them.
Leading up to the trip, I had several people tell/ask me 2 things: 1) “you’re getting engaged” 2) “are you doing any sessions up there?” First of all, I really didn’t think that I would be going back to Minnesota with a ring on my finger. And second of all, 2022 was absolutely bonkers between photography, traveling, and moving to Montana. So I was pumped to just spend quality time in Alaska without worrying about a timeline for sessions.
Day two was my kind of a travel day! We were actually pumped for a couple of hours in the car. We drove South from Anchorage to Seward, which was about a 2.5 hour trip. The views were absolutely breathtaking along the way… We spent the night camped at Miller’s Landing, overlooking Resurrection Bay. I couldn’t recommend Miller’s Landing enough – it was quaint, secluded, and full of so much beauty. We loved being close to national park sites and beautiful views!
I never thought that I would have the opportunity to take in the beauty of such an interesting place, like Kenai Fjords National Park. We went on a boat tour to get up-close-and-personal with Aialik glacier. Kenai Fjords features nearly 40 icebergs and covers over 650,000 acres. Taking in the vastness of the park was indescribable. We even saw seals and whales! (And of course, flocks of the chubbiest puffins.) Our favorite part of the Kenai Fjords National Park boat tour was boating right next to Aialik Glacier; pictures don’t do its size justice.
We spent day four exploring the quaint little town of Seward. With just over 2,000 people, it felt like home! Located on the Kenai Peninsula, there were countless boats docked, picturesque coastal-esque cottages, and the bluest water. After we soaked up the last bits of Seward, we hiked to Exit Glacier. The trailhead is located 3 miles from Seward, making it easily accessible. I’ve never seen anything quite like Exit Glacier. We were able to get pretty close to the glacier, which is an area of FOURTEEN SQ MILES.
After the quick hike out and back to Exit Glacier, we drove the 2.5 hours back to Anchorage to continue our adventure.
Day five was spent gallivanting around Anchorage, doing some shopping, and taking in the mountainous horizon caressing the city’s skyline. Being from a small town in Southern Minnesota, I will never be over these kind of views! After we had spent a littleeee too much money, we hiked at Eagle River Nature Center. We were surrounded by lush pines and snowcapped mountains.
If you know Ethan and me, you know that we are big fishermen. We had the absolute coolest experience salmon fishing until midnight. Yep, you read that right. We traveled to the Russian River and soaked up every little bit of daylight we could, enjoying the famous midnight sun that Alaska had to offer. Such a dream come true, to say the least.
I knew something was up when Ethan told me to wear jeans today. We had been hiking and adventuring all week, so we looked like scrubs (typical), so it was comical that he wanted me to look nice for our helicopter ride. I had planned a helicopter ride into our itinerary months ago, but I guess he took advantage. We drove an hour to Knik River Lodge, where the helicopters launch from. Once got there like two hours early to take in the views and watch some helicopters take off. We obviously had time to waste, so we walked around and went to the gift shop.
We checked in for our flight, and this is when Ethan would claim that he had second thoughts about proposing because we found out that the helicopter ride wasn’t private and that we would be flying with 4 other people…
The helicopter was packed like sardines and I could barely move my camera to take a picture. It was super fun though and we flew past mountain peaks and viewed other glaciers. After about 20 minutes of flying, we flew over deep crevasses and water pools on the Knik Glacier. Our pilot found a good spot to land, and we got out to admire and walk around the glacier.
As everyone else stayed close to the helicopter to take photos, Ethan and I went adventuring into a crevasse. We climbed and walked until we were secluded and surrounded by the glacier. I reached down to admire the crystal clear water and saw Ethan’s shadow get down on one knee. In my head, I said, “it’s happening” and casually let him sit there for a few seconds before turning around and seeing him down on one knee. I totally blacked out but I know he asked me to marry him and I said, “seriously?” and “is this real?”
Ethan…typical… did not take the ring out of the plastic bag it was shipped in in the box, so he fumbled around with that before asking which finger it was supposed to go on, jokingly. In true Sydney fashion, I was double-fisting cameras as he slid the ring on my finger. Then he goes, “are you going to say yes?” and I said YES!
We were away from everyone, but the pilot was watching from afar and came over to take our photo. We marked the coordinates from where he proposed on OnX, so we have the coordinates, but I don’t think we will ever be able to step foot in that spot again. Maybe, but we got engaged on a freaking glacier!! Like what!!
After our time exploring and taking it all in, we filled water bottles with glacier water and hopped back in the heli. We landed back at the lodge and went upstairs to the restaurant to celebrate. On our way home we saw some moose, and returned to my best friend’s house to a cake and a celebratory toast.
Yet another day to remember The photos down below tell the story… But I can’t believe that Ethan and I got to take our engagement photos in the most picturesque place imaginable. The misty skies, the vibrant red cabins, the lush greenery, and my fiancé!?!? Wow. ‘Nuff said.
Another day spent fishing. We headed up near to another quaint town, Wasilla, for some fly-fishing. We weren’t able to spend a ton of time fly-fishing before we hit the road to head down to Homer for a weekend trip. The roadtrips in Alaska were hands-down some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The landscape is so diverse and dramatic, it was so hard to take it all in.
Day ten was proof that not everything goes to plan while traveling. We originally planned on going out on a fishing charter around Kechemak Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t favorable, and our trip got cancelled. We didn’t let that stop us from having a fun day with our friends, though! We wandered around Homer, did some more shopping, ate some incredible seafood, and explored the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Museum.
Case in point: be flexible when traveling.
Our trip ended with some afternoon cooking! We made the salmon that we had caught, and tried our hand at making fireweed jelly. Both will be core-memories to last me a lifetime. After our bellies were full, our hearts full of joy, and a few tears of sadness, we parted ways to head back to Minnesota.
Syd’s – The Aialik Glacier, Homer, and the helicopter ride (obvi).
Ethan’s – Fjord Tour and Aialik Glacier and seeing the hype surrounding the salmon run.
I truly cannot believe that we were able to spend 11 days exploring the Last Frontier. Every little moment of The One Where I Get Engaged: Alaska Trip Recap will forever hold such a special place in my heart. We are so incredibly thankful for this trip and we truly fell in love with Alaska. We already have our next trip planned for September 2023! 🙊 Next time, you can catch us adventuring further North and inland, soaking up more of Homer, hopping on a fishing charter (or two), and doing a fly-fishing guided tour. I can’t wait!!!
Looking for more adventures? Check out @sydneybreannphoto for some real-time adventures. And if you’re looking for more trip itineraries, CLICK HERE to continue exploring with me! Are you ready to wander?
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