The next morning we were a bit rough for the wear. My body isn’t as resilient as it was when I was 21. We got a slow start and went for a walk in search of Mill Ruins Park, stopping for food at a place called La Belle Crepes. The reason we walked inside is because the sign in front informed us that the shop not only sold French crepes, but Japanese pho soup—by far the strangest combination of lunch choices I’ve ever experienced. Ironically though, Katie was craving a savory bowl of pho, and I wanted a sweet crepe, so the dysfunctional genre worked in our favor. After striking up a conversation with the guy behind the counter, he asked if we had any plans for the rest of the day:
“Well, we’re actually going to Alaska”
“You’re going to Alaska…today?”
“Yes, at about 5 o’clock”
I never grow tired of strangers’ reactions to our meanderings. Finishing up our food, we trekked onward toward the park, which was a much further walk than anticipated. By the time we got to the water, we were too wiped to continue on to the actual park, so we only stayed to snap a few photos of the Minneapolis “Pillsbury’s Best Flour” sign. Airport bound we would go.
It took 2 airplanes to get us to Anchorage. With a long layover in Seattle, we had a casual dinner and a few beers before sleeping our way through most of the second flight. Our plane landed at 12:30am Anchorage time (4:30am NYC time), and we were completely wrecked. Delirious yet excited, we stumbled from the jet bridge and were shocked to see our friend Andrew (A pilot who lives in Alaska) surprising us at our gate with a big birthday cake that read “Congratulations! #50by30” in icing. It all started to become real. Katie leapt from the airport gates and claimed her 50th state with the touch of her sneakers to the pavement. I am still only at my 44th, but seeing her finish was a little surreal. It felt like validation for the way that we have grown to travel—to experience all the diverse ways people live with openness and amazement.
We stayed the night at a cheap airport hotel, with plans to pick up our rental pickup truck the next morning. We closed our eyes on a pretty sweet accomplishment, and an amazing excursion ahead in Alaska’s great expanse.