Pro Tips for an Alaskan Adventure

We are on our way back to good ole Tennessee today! We opted for the cheapest airline tickets we could find, which means we are taking the long way home – 5 hour overnight layover in Seattle, just to get on a short flight to San Francisco, to wait through a 3 hour layover, to finally fly to Nashville about 20 hours after our first flight!

So, while we are just killing time we thought we might go ahead and share some photos and memories from our time in Alaska! Instead of just sharing random photos, I wanted to give you some “pro” tips for your own Alaskan adventure, with pictures to accompany them!

Disclaimer: Almost all of these “pro” tips are actually entirely circumstantial and we had almost nothing to do with them. We really just had a lot of fortunate connections and opportunities that may not easily be replicated. So, these “pro” tips are actually totally useless and are really just a look at what we did in Alaska. 

Pro Tip Number 1: Get some great friends to come and visit you! 

Tim and Laura spent their July living in Seattle, so they were able to come spend a weekend with us when we first landed in Alaska! We went hiking, traveled from Anchorage to Talkeetna to Girdwood, and we even had a chance to go up in a bush plane for a glacier landing with JoBeth’s sister Kristen’s boyfriend Matt (more on the two of them later)! It was a blast getting to catch up with old friends while experiencing new adventures together.

Pro Tip Number 2: Have an amazing set of locals to show you around! 

These people here are Kristen and Matt. Kristen is one of JoBeth’s older sisters (number 2 of the 4 Collins girls) and Matt is her boyfriend. They both live in Alaska and were amazing hosts. Aside from knowing where to go for food and hikes and all of that good stuff, they were so kind to invite us into their life for the weeks that we were there. They each took us on countless adventures, provided us with food and


places to stay, and were just overall incredible hosts and guides for us, and JoBeth’s whole family. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is a bush pilot who was able to take us up on some of his work trips, sightseeing around Mt. Denali, and even went out of his way to take JoBeth, Jessie, and I up in his personal plane, Spunky (pictured to the right). If you ever plan to go to Alaska, make sure you find a Kristen and Matt. 

Pro Tip Number 3Find a golden retriever who is a very good boy.

This came as a package deal with Pro Tip Number 2 – Kristen has an amazing golden retriever named Noli (short for Nolichucky, like the river). I know that everyone thinks that they have the best dog, but Noli is actually the best boy. He loves to run incredibly fast while you bike next to him, can keep up with even the longest of adventures, is always up for a game of fetch, finds the best sticks, plops down in any snow/water he can find and is usually too busy sending it to be bothered with other people or dogs on the trail. He is the perfect companion for any adventure – even flying in Matt’s plane. We took a disproportionate amount of pictures of Noli, so here are just some of our favorites. For more, which, you definitely will want more, go follow him on Instagram at @alaskanbeautysalmondog!

Pro Tip Number 4: Bring some family along!

After JoBeth and I had spent about a week in Alaska, hanging out with our friends the first weekend and then on our own after that, we were able to hang out with her family for the second part of the trip! They have fallen in love with Alaska since Kristen moved here and especially since their last family trip out here a couple of years ago. It was a blast being able to share in some of their favorite memories of the place, while JoBeth and I also got to show them some of the favorite spots we had discovered in our short time there. They fished, got to go on some plane rides, and celebrated some birthdays. I was glad to be able to be part of the family! It is also just such a joy to see the way that JoBeth lights up whenever she gets to spend time with her sisters – Kristen and Jessie each bring her so much joy and it is fun to watch – or listen to as I drive and they bicker about jelly beans in the back seat.

Pro Tip Number 5: JoBeth! 

If I wasn’t married to JoBeth, I’m not sure I ever would have ventured out to Alaska. But even if I had, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without her. It is a blast to see the sparkle in her eye as she takes in the mountains, as she plays with Noli, as she dreams about more and more adventures to be had. Alaska has a huge part of her heart, and she has a huge part of mine, so I think it is safe to say this wasn’t our last time in Alaska! We had some incredible moments in the great state, and we even got to celebrate our 1 year anniversary! (Okay so technically we spent the night of our anniversary sleeping in an airport but we celebrated plenty throughout our time there!) She is the perfect travel companion, and I am so glad that she’ll be my lifelong adventure buddy!















That’s all I got! As we get ready to board to head back to Tennessee, while we will miss the fun and adventure of Alaska, I am extremely grateful that we are returning to a life that we are excited about, and I can’t wait to see what an adventure everyday life will be. Oh, and if you really ever have or would consider visiting Alaska – do it!

The Kite and the String

In the last four days, JoBeth and I have spent more time in an airport/airplane than not. In fact, of the last four days, only one of them did not involve any air travel whatsoever. My body has absolutely no idea what time it is, and since we are headed to Alaska, where it is daylight for almost 20 hours each day, I don’t think it will be figuring it out anytime soon. Right now we are in an airport terminal, finishing out an 8 hour layover. JoBeth has a miraculous gift for sleeping anywhere, anytime so she is currently dozing off in the seat next to me.

We just got back from an incredible trip to Asia, and now we are headed off to Alaska for a few weeks before JoBeth and I get ready to start “real” jobs in August. At our wedding, my good friend Stephen sang a song with the lyrics “To the ends of the earth would you follow me?” as we walked back down the aisle. I knew that marrying JoBeth would be an adventure, but I’m not sure if I realized that about a year later those words would become a reality. 

We, along with lots of others, have started to look at aspects of life through the lens of the Enneagram. I’m restraining myself from spending the rest of these words explaining the Enneagram and telling you why it is more than just a personality test (but not the Gospel). What you do need to know is that JoBeth is a 7, known as the Enthusiast or Adventurer. She seeks new experience, is full of energy, and is always on the go. I am a 9, known as the Peacemaker. As the name implies, I like to make or keep peace, have a little less energy than a 7 like JoBeth, and I tend to think pretty practically.

During part of our travels we listened to an interview with Bob and Maria Goff – Bob is a 7, and Maria is a 9. They gave a beautiful illustration about him being a kite and her being the string making sure he doesn’t fly away. Together, it makes for a really awesome, cool thing! In our relationship, JoBeth is definitely the kite, and I am definitely the string. While our travels and adventures may sometimes put a little wear on the string (I’m not as good of an airplane sleeper as JoBeth!), I am so, so grateful to be married to a woman with such an amazingly adventurous spirit. It pulls and stretches me and takes me to places I may have never gone on my own. It causes me to meet new people, to try new things, to see new places. and to look for adventure. In each of these experiences, I am shown more of God’s creation, more of His character, more of His image in the people He has created.

I can’t wait to see where the rest of this life will take us, and I am so thankful to have this wonderful partner to walk through it with.

Here’s to Alaska!