Look up, way up! – Alaska, USA
Alaska, it’s the last frontier.
Many times I have been to this, the 50th state, and I have been blessed to experience wondrous treats from Mother Nature. One thing I have never seen, though, are the Northern Lights, otherwise known as – The Aurora Borealis.
The reason I have never seen the Northern Lights is not because I have not wanted to, more due to the fact that I am always in Alaska in the summer. It never really gets dark enough in the land of the midnight sun to see the Northern Lights in the summer because of the long daylights hours Alaska enjoys from May until September.
The best time to see the Northern Lights is in the heart of winter when days are short and nights are long, crisp and clear. Unfortunately, this is when there are few tourists except, strangely enough, for the Japanese, who come to Alaska to make babies. Apparently, it is good luck.
This year I was fortunate enough to be in Alaska in the fall. The chance of seeing the Northern Lights was greatly enhanced.
I was leading a tour group. Every night at our respective hotel, we would be told how spectacular the lights had been the night before, and that we request wake up calls, if indeed the Northern Lights were out again. This meant getting up at approximately 01:00.
Mother Nature was not on our side. The lights never came out to show us their rhapsody of colours. Our group was getting disappointed and a little skeptical.
On our second to last night in Alaska, we were in Denali. Once again the group had asked for individual wake up calls. This time I decided that if I woke up, I woke up and if I felt like it, I would get up and see if the Lights were out. I had almost given up at this point, anyway.
At about 02:00, I was curled up cozy in bed. I woke up thinking I had heard some noises. I could not see out of my window skyward, but I thought that maybe people were looking at the elusive lights. I almost said "to hell with it" but then my conscience took over, "Kevin you had better get up or you might regret it." I threw on some clothes and went outside.
There were a few staff members milling about, but no other hotel guests. I walked for a few minutes down to the river's edge. I lifted my head to savour the moment and slowly looked up to the vast Alaskan sky. Low and behold, there they were in all their glory; the elusive Aurora Borealis!
They were lounging in the northern sky, a hazy white and green colour, sitting lazily above the hillside and occasionally roaming to and fro in no set manner. Although I was relieved to see the lights, it was the quiet of nature and the sound of the trickling river that complimented them the most. Mother Nature was showing off!
I sat there for 15 minutes, started to get cold, then made my way back to my welcoming bed. I assumed everyone else had already been up and had seen the lights. I fell sound asleep.
The next morning as I welcomed everyone at breakfast, I asked how they had enjoyed viewing the Northern Lights.
"Lights? What Lights?" they all asked.
"They were out last night, didn’t you see them?"
They hadn’t because the front desk had forgotten to alert them. I could not believe it. Me and my big mouth! Why they did not know would not have hurt them.
Although these circumstances were unfortunate for others, I can say the Northern Lights are certainly a sight to see.