My Two Loves

by Laura Johnson
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bentley.jpgTwo years ago I fell madly in love with a fella named Bentley. His piercing emerald green eyes and perfect shade of thick brown hair melted my heart those first few moments we met. He makes me laugh everyday, loves to travel, swim in the ocean with me and he'll go anywhere on a whim. My perfect day is to stay home, lying on the sofa with him, cooking him three perfect meals a day. We share a  pillow at night and sometimes I find myself staring at him while he  sleeps.

Nothing and no one has ever halted my love to travel as much as  him. I find myself completely homesick when I leave him. When I packed my bags to go to Juneau, Alaska last week I promised him I would bring home as many salmon treats that would fit in my bag.  But until the airlines come up with a new rule that dogs can sit in a passenger seat, Bentley will have to be left behind at the farm with my Mother.

Reecia is an old friend, born and raised in Juneau, who I've known  for 20 plus years. We met thru mutual friends from her college days  in the South. She and Ed have a beautiful home with floor to  ceiling windows right on the Gastineau Channel with monstrous  mountains in the background. Reecia owns four of the best  restaurants I know of anywhere and Ed owns a small airline,  composed of Super Otter's and a fleet of float planes that  transport folks to places that put me in a complete state of shock  and awe.

shrimp.jpgEvery day was an adventure. I flew out with Ed and his friend Todd  to Ed's tiny float house in 'Hawk Inlet' to check the shrimp baskets. Shrimp is an understatement as these were almost lobster size creatures. We landed on the water, in the middle of nowhere and pulled up to a tiny cabin with a boat parked outside. The loud roar and echo of the birds in the mountains and on the beach sounded like a soccer stadium full of fans screaming and yelling. We got on the boat and checked all the baskets and got a few hundred to take home for dinner, which we cooked in a huge propane lit boiler in salt water for the perfect flavor. We stood on the dock and ate about 20 a piece before we flew back home over the glaciers.

Juneau is the biggest cruise ship destination in Alaska, pulling in several million cruise ship passengers in the summer and about 300,000 tourists on their own. If you know a local Juneauite, you become fast friends with everyone in town and fortunately for me,  I've become a 'local repeat visiting Juneauite.' For the locals, to see a familiar face and friend visiting every year, puts me in a place that decisions of what I want to do every day are mind boggling!

My friends Bob and Dawn own one of the most popular local tour companies in town. I chose to go out on a tour with a professional photographer to teach me everything about my fancy camera that I never knew, and to hike thru bear country to the Mendenhall glacier, go out on a boat to see humpback whales breach 50 feet in front of us. My photos turned out incredibly beautiful. But no camera can truly ever capture the sights, smells, the sounds; the sound of a 30 ton Humpback blowing water thru their snout. And no doubt I could ever capture the spirit of the people in Alaska.

glacier.jpgwhale.jpg

It was the second time in 2 years I've been somewhere that I really didn't miss Bentley too much. I felt the same way last year when I visited Juneau. I missed him madly when I was in Capri, Tuscany, Paris, Vail, Spain, Ireland and everywhere else I've been this year, but Juneau is somewhere that I feel some sort of magical connection to. The friendships I've made in Juneau will last a lifetime. But I'd like to blame it on my late Daddy who took me on my first trip to Juneau 25 years ago. He loved Alaska as much as I do. His favorite song was "Fly me to the Moon" and I'm pretty sure that Alaska is as magical as the moon, because if you've ever seen the moon in Alaska, you would agree.

 

Laura grew up in a small southern town in Georgia on a cotton and pecan farm where life centered around family, friends and good food. She has lived in Atlanta for 20 years and has been a Flight Attendant for a major airline for 18 years, traveling the world in search for the next best meal.

 

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