Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Things to see before you die

Well I thought I'd get back on track and make another post about cool things I've been able to do since being re-single.
I have this list in my head and the more I talk to other people I find that most people have a similar thing. It's a list of things you want to see before you die. I've been able to check a few things off this list in recent years. I saw the tulips in Holland and I saw the Hoh Rainforest in Washington, but my number one thing to see was still patently waiting...till now. As you can guess, Christmas when you're in the middle of a divorce can seem a little daunting. My parents kindly recognized this and suggested it would be fun to go on a trip. None of us had anywhere to be and no one we were required to be with so we figured why not? I was thinking England would be fun for a Charles Dickens theme, or Germany since I'd heard a lot about the little Christmas street markets. I think a cruise was suggested once or twice, but when my mom casually mentioned going to Alaska to see the Northern Lights my dad and I jumped on it and much to my mom's regret we didn't give up. It was expensive, cold, dark, and completely worth it. I've wanted to see the Aurora Borealis ever since I did a book report in 3rd grade on my Grandpa Hales favorite poem. The Cremation of Sam McGee. (was a strange child I must have been) Here's a link to Johnny Cash reading it.
We flew up to Fairbanks and then up to Bettles Alaska above the arctic circle. I can't even go into how little this town is. I think the population is something like 60 people. The flights in the tiny 4 passenger plane with all the supplies were amazing.
We had jacuzzi tubs in our room and even had them fire up the sauna one night. (Literally fire up the sauna since it was heated by a wood stove only.)
We went dog sledding one day and I am still shocked to this day that I have all my fingers after that that experience. I was so cold I wanted to cry because I thought my fingers were frozen solid and were going to be cut off. The best part was when our sled crashed and into a tree and tipped over with mom packed inside of it like cargo.
I got to stand on the back so it was no problem for me except the for the insane coldness. No wonder Sam McGee whimpered and whined so much.
The only wildlife we saw was a bunch of Ptarmigans which my dad had a problem pronouncing correctly after seeing how it was spelled.
On the winter solstice it warmed up to something like -20F instead of the -40F that is was when we arrived. I thought that was weird since that was the day the sun never came up. My dad and I took advantage of the heat wave and went cross country skiing over to see the Anaktuvuk River.
I had one short molment of fear when I realized I skiied a lot faster than dad and I was now alone in the arctic and was going to be eaten by wolves. After about 10 mintues though dad showed up.
It's amazing what a difference that change in temperature made. I took my gloves off once to take a picture and my fingers froze to my camera, not to mention the frost on my glasses and how the inside of your nose freezes solid every time you breath. The lodge tried to get a Christmas tree but every time they cut one down the tree would shatter cause it was so cold.
The highlight of the trip of course was seeing the Northern Lights. I know what causes them. The whole magnetosphere and particles...blah blah blah. That all makes sense but when you see them in real life there's just not anyway to describe them. One Eskimo legend is that they're spirits lighting the way to heaven and I think that description seems the most descriptive of how they really look. I want to say we didn't see any award winning displays but the lights are so neat you can't really say that. They're all amazing.
We had to be driven out to a little hut in the middle of no where at 2am to see them so I didn't take any pictures. I was too cold. I searched the Internet for a picture that looks like the lights we saw and this is the one that was closest.
We headed back to Fairbanks for a couple days where we did some fun stuff like driving over the ice bridge, find a bunch of geocaches, visit North Pole Alaska, see an ice sculpture contest, and ride an ice slide.
These were all taken in the afternoon but since the sun even though you can't tell since the sun was only up a couple hours that day. We flew home on Christmas Eve and Nate and Carrie had a tree set up at my house all ready for Christmas morning.
I guess I should check off the Northern Lights from my list now that I've seen them, but they were so amazing I don't want to. I think I'll just check them off from being the number one thing and put them near the bottom as See the Northern Lights Again. Thanks again for the trip mom and Dad!

1 comment:

Life out Here said...

I want to go SO BAD! Grrrr- stupid money.

I am very envious. That would be a dream trip!