The wind grabbed at his hat, but he was quick to fight back and hold it in place. “Look at that view!” Davy, standing between two towering rocks, looked out over the plain before turning to his partner.

“Let me see,” Jade said, pushing Davy jokingly out of the way.

“Careful up here,” he said, stepping carefully on the scattered rocks and avoiding the random vegetation somehow sprouting in the cracks.

“Wow,” Jade said. “It is beautiful.”

“I told you.”

Jade’s camera was slung delicately across her shoulder. She raised it up and snapped a few shots.

“Award worthy?” Davy asked.

Jade shrugged as she kept taking more pictures.

“Couldn’t be worse than last year.” Davy let out a slight chuckle, even though it was a risk. He had spent many nights consoling Jade in their living room due to the complications of the Nature Photography award last year. For whatever reason, it had been cancelled at the last minute due to “unforeseen budgeting impacts.” At least, that’s what the letter had said. His suspicion was that the budget had gone right to the judge’s pockets, instead of being paid to the top 3 contestants. It was a surprisingly political world, and with no real oversight, they could get away with just about anything.

It was the one annual event Jade prepped for more than any. They had gone on hikes together. They had traveled the globe together. While the trips were fun and a great experience, without some kind of reward at the end, Jade felt a sense failure. Davy ensured her over and over again it was still worth it, but for Jade, the words rang hollow. It took several months of convincing to get her out and exploring again. It took Jade several more months to even pick up her camera at the beginning of the year. This was their first trip, and Davy was going to make sure it wouldn’t be a waste.

“Do you want…” The wind carried Davy’s words somewhere he hadn’t meant for them to go, so he waited until it died down. “Do you want to wait nearby for sunset?”

Jade flung her camera back over her shoulder. “No, we can keep hiking. I think Moorestead Peak will be perfect for some sunset pictures.

“We have enough supplies to get back?”

“What are you, scared now?” Jade laughed as she danced around the outcropping to get back on more stable, and flat, land.

“I Just want to make sure our first outing doesn’t turn into one we’d rather forget, you know?”

“Like the Diomede Islands?”

Davy physically shuddered. “Don’t remind me.”

Three years back Jade had an itching to go to Alaska, and of course, since they traveled all the way up there, she had heard abut the Diomede Islands and wanted to see what they were about. Davy of course was enthusiastic about it; he loved traveling with his girlfriend. Unbeknownst to them, it was the worst time to travel to the islands in the Bearing Strait. They ended up getting stranded for a week on the Little Diomede Island, population 150. It was awful. Their accommodations were on the floor of a local family, that also happened to chain-smoke. Food was sparse and some days they didn’t eat at all. Most of the time it was dark out, and the constant storms only made the whole experience worse.

Jade set her backpack on the ground. “So, you’re saying you don’t want to go back?” She laughed, and swapped out lenses.

“Alaska was nice. I’m sure Russia could be nice, if we ever get to the ‘real Russia,’ you know?”

“Moscow? Why do you want to go there so bad?”

“Moscow. St. Petersburg. I’ve told you,” Davy’s hands fell to his hips, “All I really want to do is ride the Trans-Siberian Railway.”

“And I keep telling you, that sounds awful.”

Jade promptly stood. “A week, on a train, full of strangers and people I’d rather not be around. Traveling through Eastern Russia probably going days without seeing a town? No. No thank you. We’ll probably end up getting trafficked or something.”

“Those are all rumors,” Davy replied.

“Still, wouldn’t you rather be here?” She held her hands out as if showcasing the nature around them.

“This is a great spot. Good find,” he said. “But as long as I’m with you, I don’t care where we are.”

They fell into each other’s arms before Jade patted his back and stepped away. “Enough of that,” she laughed. “Let’s head to the peak.” She picked up her back and threw it on. As she turned to head for her award-winning sunset shot, Davy was quick to follow.

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