It was one year ago (Feb. 5th 2015) that I got married on the beach of Neko Harbor in Antarctica. I had been single for a long – long time, busy raising kids and then galavanting round the globe doing photography. One day I was lucky enough to meet Debra Fadely. She is an amazing woman with the biggest heart I have ever experienced—not to mention an exceptional human being. I have never met a person like her. Plus, she gets me. She loves photography as much as I do and likes playing on computers and all the other techie stuff I am into. We get along like two peas in a pod—truly great friends and partners in crime.
So after dating for over 5 years, one day I told her that if she got a passport, I would take her to Antarctica and marry her. Since she was born in Germany to US parents while they were in the service, it was hard to find the birth certificate paperwork and obtain a passport. But guess what? One day the passport showed up and being a man of my word, I asked her to marry me on Thanksgiving 2014. I had custom-made rings designed and made by a jewelry friend that were inspired by Icebergs. No jewelry store rings for the love of my life.
In late January 2015 we headed off to Antarctica on one of Luminous-Landscape’s photo workshops and had the most incredible wedding on a beach with 60 photographers and hundreds of penguins. I can’t even describe how cool that was and how memorable the event was. The morning of the wedding, we pulled into Neko Harbor. It was raining and cold—not the most ideal conditions for a beach wedding. I went up to the bridge and told the Captain that it didn’t look too good. He replied, “You should have seen it an hour ago!”.
Shortly after we anchored, there was a bright line on the horizon and over the next hour it became brighter. The rain stopped, the clouds opened up and we were set to have a wedding. And, oh what a wedding we had. It was held on a rocky beach amongst hundreds of penguins with a giant mountain and glacier behind us. My friends Michael Reichmann, Art Wolfe, Christian Fletcher were my Best Men and Jackie Ranken was Debra’s Maid of Honor. Expedition leader and friend Morten Jørgensen gave Debra away. The ship’s captain performed a lovely wedding ceremony and we were married. As soon as he announced us as husband and wife, the mountain behind us gave a loud crack which was followed by a giant avalanche of ice. You had to be there. Those that were, will tell you it was most memorable.
Debra and I were given a special 3 hour private tour of Neko Harbor with Ruslan Eliseev, one of the Russian zodiac drivers and one of the happiest people I have ever met—not to mention an incredible photographer. We saw things on that 3 hour trip that will remain great memories for a lifetime.
We returned to the ship for a luncheon reception and had one of the best times ever.
I couldn’t have imagined anything better. To be able to share this amazing time with so many friends down there at the the bottom of the world was a true gift. Best of all I got to take Debra to what I consider one of the most amazing places on earth. A place I keep coming back to each year.
On a side note, when we got home we found out that while a ship’s Captain from Finland could perform a wedding ceremony, it was not recognized by the state of Indiana. So we had to find a local minister to sign our papers. We asked a Quaker minister to do this for us. He said if we bought him breakfast he would sign the papers. So we took him to a restaurant and after eating his breakfast, he officially married us in the lobby of a Bob Evans restaurant in Indianapolis.
I am returning to Antarctica in November (with Debra) and 68 workshop attendees to do the ultimate Antarctica trip. We sail from the tip of S. America to S. Georgia Island – a true lost world where we will circumnavigate the island. The wildlife and landscape is unlike anything you’ll ever experience anywhere. Then we sail to Antarctica and do the Antarctica peninsula before returning to Ushuaia, Argentina. (Still a few berths if you want to join).
To celebrate our one year anniversary this week I am taking Debra to Hawaii. We are presently in Maui, Hawaii and have some really fun things planned. Hopefully if internet connection allows, we will share some of these on Facebook. So, when I have internet and some time I’ll be posting from Hawaii and the islands of Maui and Molokai.