Alaskan Wedding Escape

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COVID-19 dictated a change in wedding plans. The wedding escape plan moved to an isolated site up the Yentna River, far from population centers with possible virus contagion. The bride’s family operates a lodge below Lake Creek, Imm’s Inn. Bride Sara grew up in the neighboring “Germantown”. Sara’s father Larry owns the lodge & uncle Barry runs the lodge. Riverboats & floatplanes were the only way to get up the swift flowing glacial Susitna & Yentna Rivers. Flying with the Elmendorf Aero Club in the early 80’s I had bagged my 1st moose north of the lodge on Whiskey Lake.

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Piloting riverboats up the Susitna & Yentna Rivers requires knowledge of the intricate channels to keep from running aground. Son Hans worked double duty as riverboat captain & groom. Sara’s brother Logan coached Hans on interpreting river currents- one bad choice could lead to hours stuck on a sandbar. Hans experienced the capricious nature of the river once when the ice broke on the Talkeetna River; large chunks of ice damaged the jet drive.

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I joined Hans as he ferried supplies upriver the last week in June. Upon arrival, Barry offered beers at the bar, where a large .50 caliber handgun was being displayed – the barrel had exploded at the last firing. Luckily no injuries resulted. I introduced myself to a muscular Norwegian character at the bar- his moniker was “Maddy”. I mentioned my fondness for skiing. Maddy looked me in the eye & growled that his sport was hockey. I asked him if he was from Minnesota & he confirmed his residence form a northern Minnesota hockey town- Grand Rapids. Maddy told the story of the year his high school hockey team whupped the big city schools for the state championship. Maddy (Bob Madson) was later recruited by Brush Christiansen to play for the University of Alaska. He is still listed as one of the top all-time goal scorers. His brother Don was recruited by famed coach Herb Brooks (Miracle on Ice) to play for the University of MN Gophers. I watched Don play hockey when I was a student at the University of MN. I later heard that Maddy was involved in fisticuffs that night at the Lake Creek Lodge.

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Hans’ sister Ingrid was in charge of the wedding arbor. This required a search of nearby sandbars for the correctly-shaped driftwood. Ingrid fashioned the arbor sections, decorated with selected flora.

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In Alaska, anyone over 18 years in age can perform the wedding ceremony; Hans selected his friend Mikey for the honors. Due to COVID-19, it was a small ceremony made up mostly of friends & coworkers from the oil industry.  Hans choreographed the wedding to the music of Ennio Morricone, famous for movie soundtracks. The music can be heard in the attached video. The following month of July, Ennio Morricone passed on.

Photo with son Hans & daughter Ingrid.

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Sara snapped photo with Bald Eagle cruising overhead.

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