Alaska was in one word amazing. We met wonderful, genuine people with a great passion for life, the surroundings were breathtaking – snow capped mountains, ice burgs, the deep, dark, frozen ocean, rushing rivers, amazing animals, delicious food, locally brewed beer and an overall life changing experience. I’m glad we got the opportunity to visit such a place & on top of that we got to partake in the Film Festival which was fantastic. Overall Rory’s film showed three times. We got to see it screen twice in totally different venues at the Anchorage Museum & the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub (an amazing theatre with amazing food – where they took out every other row and put tables… creating this different energy where the whole experience of seeing a film is shared) with two totally different crowds which was amazing. It was very well received both times we saw it. The first time it showed it was before a feature film called Streetsweeper which was my favorite film that we screened at the festival. I found out a few days ago that it won best film at the festival which didn’t surprise me. It was a beautiful, poetic film – unlike any other I have seen and I truly appreciated everything that it was – I felt thankful to have watched it when it was over.
Fran, the animation programmer for the festival was fantastic. We had a horrible time with US Airways (let’s just say I could write a 5 page letter about it..) but as soon as we landed in Alaska we were greeted with open arms. Fran picked us up and invited us over for a home cooked meal which was pretty unexpected seeing how we were complete strangers but amazing of her nonetheless. She dropped us off at our hotel and her partner Richard came to pick us up an hour later. They live in this amazing contemporary house set back in the woods with bird feeders the size of golf carts. Fran cooked us the most perfect meal (one that I was speaking of needing to have on the plane ride over) – wild alaskan salmon with capers and deliciousness, sauteed fresh veggies they get every few weeks from a farm in Washington, and aaaamazing wine. They totally opened their home and their inspiring life to us. Turns out Richard flies planes for the Iditarod – he goes and picks up the dogs when the race is all over. He also sails frequently – in fact they are planning a beautiful adventure that will have them set out of Alaska to Hawaii and then over to the Caribbean. Talk about people who truly live. Their passion certainly was rubbing off on me (in fact most of the people we met made us feel that way.. it was awesome). After dinner we went downstairs to view some animations that Fran had from over the years when she worked at Vinton Studios in Portland, Oregon which is now Laika Studios. She has a love for stop motion as well so she showed us some pretty amazing stuff that Rory and I had never seen before. It truly was a terrific evening and really was the perfect start to this journey.
I think the only thing that messed us up a little was the sunlight. The first morning we were there we were still on East Coast time (4 hours ahead of Alaska) so we ended up waking up at like 5 am and it honestly didn’t get light out until 10:30 in the am. From when we woke up until 11 or so it looked like it does at 6 or 7 at night. It was strange to get used to but luckily the weather held out for us and it wasn’t that cold – probably in the high 20’s/low 30’s. Oh, and the sun would be going down by 3:30 in the afternoon. I guess they are compensated all that sunlight deprivation in the summer when at it’s peak there is about 23 hours of sunlight… guess we’ll have to go back for that! All of the images posted below were taken in the morning/day. Notice the light! (or lack there of)