Aurora Borealis - Fairbanks, Alaska
24-30 January 2017
photos by G.P. Jones using Nikon Coolpix L830 digital camera
This short trip was conceived and executed for one purpose only: to see
the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) which I had missed in Iceland
several years ago.
I scheduled six days in Fairbanks, Alaska, to increase my chances of
seeing this natural wonder.
Of course, during the daylight hours - about 3-1/2 hours each day at this
time of year - I needed to fill some time.
The local Ice Museum (doesn't every town in America have one?) sports
some predictable, but still amusing, marquee text.
Talk about temporary graffiti! There was also some yellow snow
"pennmanship", but when I grabbed my camera and went back out,
I couldn't find it.
Snow is purty.
As I've done on some past vacations, here is the view from the window of
my hotel room.
Normally I wouldn't post a picture of a parking lot, but, like the tree in
the photo above, the snow makes it purty.
The building on the left has a sign above the door that says, "Moose".
Yes, I regret to say, this is still a somewhat segregated community, but
they're making improvements.
I mean, this is the front door of the building. Baby steps. Baby steps.
There isn't much to the downtown area (at least as compared to Boston,
or Madrid), but there is a nice park with a big statue (right), and a
picturesque church on the other side of the Chena River.
Yes, that's a river in between me and the church.
In general, parking is not a problem in Fairbanks, but
the Bad Mother gets a little peeved if someone encroaches.
(Bad Mother is an antique/memorabilia store on 2nd Avenue, not an
ineffective parent nor hostile drug dealer.)
Another specialty store, not found in many places in the "lower 48".
If you got antlers, you probably got to come to Fairbanks to unload 'em.
(Good luck getting that into the overhead bin on Alaska Airlines.)
So, the trip about 20 miles out of town is arranged, and the van comes
at about 9:00 pm to load me and the other tourists in for the short journey,
and the long wait.
Aurorae are finicky, as it turns out, sometimes not showing up at all,
sometimes flashing, then hiding for an hour or two, then coming back.
Fortunately, about midnight plus 40 minutes (00:40) this band appeared
just above the trees,
and our guide - perhaps relieved that we now couldn't complain that our
$75.00 was wasted - herded us outside.
Man it was cold. About 6° below zero (Fahrenheit).
It was sometimes humourous, sometimes offensive, when Fairbanksters commented
as to how warm it was, but all was forgiven when they explained that
just last week it had been -50° (50 below zero!) at high noon one day!
Within less than 3 minutes, the band morphed into this . . .
. . . and then this.
This "edition" of the Aurora Theatre wasn't as spectacular as
many of the pictures we saw while waiting inside the viewing lodge,
but it was (for me) truly mystical, and almost spiritual.
(I don't apologise for the hand-held quality of these pictures.
I didn't go there to take pictures - I went there for the in-person
experience, and I feel I got my money's worth.)
That's one more bucket-list item conquered!