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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Aurora Adventure (Night 2)

Alaska Adventure Day 1
Aurora Adventure Night 1
Chena Lodge Day 2

After that, it was time for the Aurora tour. 
The way they do it is they have these snowcats(they call them snow coaches. A very... loose term) that climb up the valley. At the top there were yerts to huddle in and to wait for the Aurora to appear.

I got to ride shotgun with the driver; there were only 3 extra seats in the driving coach and everyone else got to sit in the back sans real windows. I'm very glad I didn't have to do that because I might have gotten ill. The ride up was kind of scary; I wasn't sure if we were purposely moving back and forth to get traction, or if we were sliding from side to side. Either way, it made me a bit uneasy.

We made it to the top, and it was the most disappointing thing you could imagine. It was freezing. Like, maybe -1 freezing, and the yert still had to be heated up with the wood stove. There were only plastic chairs inside, no tables, no couches, no electricity, no WINDOWS. 
Granted, the driver started up a propane tank and heated some water and offered hot chocolate and coffee and cup noodles and oatmeal. That was nice. And I almost decided on some coffee but first I had to use their restroom (yes I went before we took off I'm not an idiot). Turns out the ground is too cold to dig a proper outhouse so instead of a nice big hole, there's a garbage bag. Yes, you heard me. A garbage bag. Thank god I was the first one to use it. At that point I decided against any liquids. 

I could only stand outside for maybe 10 minutes at a time. My fingers started to freeze off. I was doing okay with the parka I'd bought with the snow pants, but I bought my gloves on my ability to articulate my fingers in relation to my camera, so they weren't very efficient. 

While I was waiting for the Aurora, I took some shots of the stars and also tried to capture the Milky Way.

Look! A baby aurora that surprised me, as it wasn't visible with eyesight alone

The Aurora hadn't shown up almost all night. I stayed inside most of the time, relying on others to let everyone know when the Aurora came out. And at almost 2am, when the tour was going to be over, it decided to show itself.

Again, it was very light, barely visible just by watching. It looked much cooler with a 20-second exposure.

I feel extremely lucky to not only have seen the Aurora twice, but to experience each one so drastically different. What was to turn out as an utterly horrible night (never do this tour, I beg you. Alaska Aurora Tours is a much better option), became quite wonderful in the end.

The next day would prove to be yet another great adventure!

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