I suppose you can chalk it up to being spoiled travelers or possibly just naive but we assumed that we would see the Aurora Borealis during either the Arctic Circle outing or ice fishing at midnight on New Year’s Eve and that it would be a highlight of Grand #1’s North American Travel Scholarship trip. In fact, I never gave it another thought. One of the reasons we had selected Fairbanks, after all, was the number of people talking about the viewing of the Northern Lights.
On the return trip from the Arctic Circle outing, we stopped again at the Arctic Circle Trading Post and entered the post where our guide told us that since weather conditions were optimal for the Lights that we would wait with others gathered from all over the world to see if we could catch a glimpse of the dancing waves of color.
The Northern Lights are only seen above the magnetic poles of the earth and are created by collisions between the electrically charged particles from the sun and they appear in many forms from patches of scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains, or shooting rays. The pale green and pink eerie glow is the most common color scheme but people that we spoke to had also seen red, yellow, green, blue, and violet colors. We learned that the atmosphere has to have ideal conditions for the lights to appear.
As we entered the log structure of the Trading Post, we were met with bone deep warmth emanating from a wood stove. The room was filled with light chasers – people who had come from all over the world, prepared to stay up all night, to see the Northern lights. As we waited, people were seated at pine tables playing games, working on puzzles, or in comfortable seating reading. There was no cell coverage. Everyone awaited the lights!
This instant community of light chasers had organized and were taking 20-minute rotations standing outside to look for the lights. If spotted, the alert would sound, and thousands of dollars of camera equipment would be quickly taken outside to adjust to the extreme temperatures before capturing that perfect image of the ghostly vapor of light hovering below a sky bursting with stars.
As we waited for the lights (that never appeared) with strangers who shared a common goal we realized that the banner on the outside of the Trading Post was correct, “There are no strangers here, just friends we haven’t met.”
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.