From a cloud forest in Costa Rica to a mist-shrouded dock at Seal River Heritage Lodge, entrepreneurial artist Amy Pink and retired police officer Fred Lipsky travelled a long way to renew their wedding vows.
July 13, 2023, held a surprise for Fred, but it was business as usual for Amy.
“Fred had run marathons for charity on all seven continents,” said Amy. “And I thought it would be fun to get married on all seven continents.”
Among other locations, Amy had already surprised her husband of 16 years in Namibia and shocked him in Bolivia on the Uyuni Salt Flats. The wedding vows adventure continued on the Birds, Bears & Belugas safari at Seal River.
A Surprise Ceremony in the Mist
“It was a really foggy, beautiful morning,” said Amy. “I just wanted to take a photograph from the dock, so I asked the guides if it was okay if I went off to the dock to take a photograph, and never thought anything about it. All of a sudden, they all decided this would be the time. They didn’t know I had written my vows at 5 a.m. that morning.
“And it was a perfect, beautiful location. I thought we’d be in the wildflowers of tundra, but it ended up being this foggy, misty place and shocked Fred big time. I had wanted a polar bear in the background but didn’t really realize how impossible and dangerous that would’ve been. After the first day at Seal River, I understood what the deal was with them and it was like, oh, we’re not doing that.”
“I thought we were just going to be the first ones to get group photos on the dock,” said Fred. “And then they said it was number seven. I still didn’t get what she was talking about. And then they said it’s your wedding, and I’m like…”
And they remarried for the seventh time.
An Epic Wedding Vows Journey
Having already traveled extensively throughout the world to see wildlife, Amy and Fred wanted to see polar bears at ground level. They discovered Churchill Wild through Audley Travel.
“We’ve probably seen pretty much everything except for gorillas,” said Amy, who was happy to add polar bears to her list. “And this was very much an upscale trip, a fantastic experience. On the first day we saw six polar bears outside the lodge, and of course we got to see the beluga whales too.
Up Close with the Polar Bears
“Super exciting, super fun. It was just amazing to be there and be walking on the same land that they were on. And I think having the experience with such a small group of 14 people made a huge difference. It was incredible because people were mindful of each other.
“Most of the time we travel on our own, so we’re like two loose cannons on our wildlife trips. When we were in Namibia, we were sometimes the only ones in a watering pool. We had virtually nobody around us, so our group at Seal River was small, but not as small as some we’ve experienced.”
The couple is at home with wildlife now, having moved from The Hamptons in New York to the jungles of Costa Rica. They also get along in famously funny fashion.
“There’s animal stuff going on here every day,” said Fred, who retired from a 25-year career as a New York police officer and brought his sense of humor with him. “We live in a cloud forest here in Costa Rica and you can’t see our neighbors. We’re looking right outside the front windows, which are all glass, and the view from the front of the house is all jungle. If we don’t get along, I’ll just put some sugar and honey on her and let the insects have their way.”
The Art of the Polar Bear
Amy is a pastel artist, and the entrepreneurial owner of RidgeArtDecor.com, a business that offers specialized one-of-a-kind high-end printing and a new product named REPOST.
REPOST is an innovative art solution that adheres to your walls like magic. No sticky residue, no tape, and no adhesives needed. Simply peel off the backer on your photo or artwork, place it on your wall, and watch it stay securely in place.
“For the first 30 years I only did landscapes, but for the last 2 1⁄2 years it’s pretty much been all animals,” said Amy. “Polar bears had been a huge focus of my work well before I planned this trip, so I have a dozen polar bears now. That’s the animal I’ve done the most drawings of by far, polar bears and polar bears with the northern lights. So being able to experience them, to be up close and personal with them, that was very special.”
Spreading the Seal River Allure
The Birds, Bears & Belugas safari involves mostly hiking and walking out to see the polar bears, if they are not already at the lodge, but fitness was never going to be an issue for Amy or Fred.
Fred started running marathons when he was a police officer, beginning with a charity run for Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the New York Marathon. He raised $3,000 on his first run and it just took off from there. He ended up running in marathons from Antarctica to China and becoming one of only about 80 people at the time to run full marathons on seven different continents. His final marathon for charity took place in Africa in 2007.
“Those were the days,” said Fred.
Amy is not a runner, but she practices Yoga regularly, and she organized a session for a fellow guest on her safari at Seal River.
“If there was a prize given for the first person up every day, that would’ve been me,” said Amy. “I literally was up and out in the lobby before 5:00 a.m. every morning. One morning there was a mom and baby right near the lodge, but I was the only one who saw them. The other thing that I got to do, which was wonderful, is that I got to practice yoga while looking out over the tundra, and I actually taught a yoga class when I was there. I’m not a yoga teacher yet, more like a Yoga teacher trainee, but I’ve been doing yoga for 23 years and I’m in a very intensive program right now. I taught a class there, and that was wonderful for me.”
The Churchill Wild safari style suited both Amy and Fred, who try to do three major trips per year as self-described unconventional travelers.
“We don’t mind roughing it a little, and we like to go to exotic places,” said Amy. “A lot of people want to go to all-inclusive places where they plant themselves by the pool and get their drinks and everything else served to them in a crowd of people. We don’t need to be served hand over fist. It just doesn’t suit us. Nature is what we want. Out in the bush. Out in the wilderness. On the ground. That’s what we like.
“I sent some photos to people and one of them had me in the background with some polar bears behind me. They thought I used AI to create it. I barely know what AI is. Most people in New York thought we were completely out of our minds being on the ground with polar bears.”
An Unforgettable Foodie Experience
The food at the lodge resonated with both Amy and Fred, but for different reasons.
“The lodge was extremely accommodating with how I eat and what my food allergies are,” said Amy. “I’m pretty much a whole food person, but I ate vegetarian when I was there, and they took good care of me. Every meal was completely delicious and different than what everybody else ate. That was very positive experience for me because it isn’t always like that for me when I travel.”
“I’m nothing like my wife,” said Fred. “If it walks, crawls or swims, I’ll eat it. I think the food was over the top, but it was over the top every meal, and it was just too much for me. I mean, it was great, but I can’t eat like that. I was like, Oh my God, I can’t move.”
“The food was amazing,” said Amy, who was also gifted with one of Churchill Wild’s Blueberries & Polar Bears cookbooks. “Every day. It was three meals of great, great food. We have one friend who is a real foodie and we told her that she should consider coming here just for the food. She’d crawl across the freakin’ desert for this, the food was that good.”
Capturing the Churchill Wild Inspiration
Both Amy and Fred were looking forward to getting home after their trip, but especially Amy, who couldn’t wait to create and print more art and use some of Fred’s images on her new REPOST product. Fred is a serious photographer, while Amy is happy with just taking photos on her iPhone.
“Fred got some amazing photos,” said Amy. “He walked around with a 17-pound lens and his tripod and had two cameras with him at all times. One was his big boy camera, a Canon EOS R5 with some expensive lenses. The guides were mindful of making sure you got the shot. When we were walking in a line with either 11 or 14 people, they would make sure that from many angles everybody could get their shot, whether it was with their cell phone or camera. There’s no reason for me to take photos if he’s taking them, I photograph in my mind’s eye.”
A Reason to Start the Presses
View this post on Instagram
“I’ve owned a printing business for 23 years,” said Amy. “And we just launched this new division for art reproduction. Photographers can come to my company and have prints done with REPOST, which allows you to just slap a picture on the wall with no adhesives or nails, and it’s super inexpensive to do. We’ve basically brought this into the art reproduction industry. Nobody else in the world has it. It’s different than selling a postcard. Photographers can take their best shots, put them on this material and sell them.
“And the detail is stunning. We print 1440 DPI and we have inks that nobody else in the world has. I print with colors that nobody there’s not another printer in the world has. We are probably the best printers in the United States and we’re a family run company. Most of the companies that are printing on canvas, mix tiles, etc. pretty much subcontract out to the same company. They’re not the printers, we actually are.
“The presses are at my plant in New Jersey. When I tell you that we are literally one of the best printers in the United States, I know we are because we care more about the quality and detail than everybody else does. The quality is insane. I have photos that I took in Africa of herds of animals and the detail is stunning.”
Influencing the Unconventional Traveler
Amy showed off her REPOST product at the lodge and was right in her element doing so. We asked her if she enjoyed her time at Seal River and wondered what she would say to people who asked her about her trip.
“Go,” she said. “If I say the go, people we know will do it. We’re influencers, but not like social media influencers. We do things first and it works to give people we know permission to do what we’ve done. We do things outside the box. So, influencing in that realm, but not social.
“We’ve had people say they need our itinerary. They want to know what we did. They’ve always wanted to do it. We can’t give a higher recommendation. This is the trip they should take. I want to come again to go to one of Churchill Wild’s other lodges, or during a different time of year. I’d like to see the different wildlife at Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, the black bears, wolves and moose. And I’m curious to know the difference between seeing the polar bears in summer and seeing them in the snow. Just to get those iconic white on white images.”
An Experience to Treasure
“Fred and I, whenever we travel, we have a good time wherever we go,” said Amy. “But this was a great experience. We would absolutely tell people about it that this place exists. Because like I said, I wanted to see the polar bears for a long time, but I didn’t know there was a lodge where you could go see them and be on the ground with them. I researched everything, and nothing was appealing to us, so I just kept letting it go, letting it go…”
See more of Amy’s artwork @AmyPinkSky on Instagram
Check out the Animal Joy Collection at RidgeArtDecor
Learn more about REPOST
Follow @RidgeArtDecor on Instagram
Follow RidgeArtDecor on Facebook