Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crossing Off Number 68

In 2005, I decided to make a life list.  It was a list of all sorts of things I'd love to experience in my life, from the completely realistic, to the probably not going to happen.

My approach to making the list was an absolutely no holds barred type of attitude.  It didn't matter whether the experience I added was do-able, realistic, practical, or reasonable.

The whole point of making the list was to not have any limits.  Just pure possibility.  Someone once told me that it was totally unrealistic and ridiculous.  I choose not to hear that!

So, my list includes things ranging from Walk on the Great Wall of China to Take a Painting Class.  There are all sorts of things that may or may not become a reality on my list...but last weekend's trip let me cross off number 68.  And what was number 68?  To see the northern lights!  I loooooove when I get to cross something off!  Because you know what crossing a number off means?  It means I experienced something new that I've wanted to do for almost 10 years.  Yes and yes.

Early, when they just started faintly appearing
If you're a frequent or occasional blog reader, you know that I've been slightly obsessed with seeing the northern lights since we moved here.  They do appear in Kodiak, but it's not very often, and I've managed to miss it every time it's come around.  So, I decided to take things into my own hands and go to where I could be almost guaranteed an aurora display.  Fairbanks!

The whole reason for our trip up to Fairbanks was to see the northern lights, and we checked out the area for the weekend and saw some fun sites, restaurants, and breweries.  Future blog posts to come about our Fairbanks adventure.

As for the northern lights, I would have liked a more sensational show than what we saw, but whatever - I'll take what I can get.  I know - now I'm getting greedy!  It was so very cool to see and I'm thrilled I finally got to experience it.  I got a new camera for my birthday & I made sure to get a tripod before our trip.  Amazingly, I was able to capture some shots of the aurora.

I say amazingly because I'm a total novice photographer.  We're talking still shooting mostly on auto and not exactly having a full understanding of the relationship between ISO, shutter speed, aperture, f-stops, etc.  I'm slowly learning, but I knew just enough to use a tripod and set the shutter speed as slow as I could to capture a few meager pictures of the show.  They came out decent for not having any idea what I was doing!

It was a camera learning experience, for sure.  Out of about 30 pictures, only around 10 of them came out.  The rest were just black.  That's how it goes when you're winging it (and don't have fancy professional equipment).  Considering the welcome booklet in our room had a section dedicated to tips for photographing the aurora, and the first line was this:  "PHOTOGRAPHING THE AURORA IS EXTREME PHOTOGRAPHY" - I'll take my scruffy shots as a total success in extreme photography for a first timer.

What was handy about our accommodations was that the room we stayed in at the B&B had a door out to a northward facing balcony, so we could stay out watching the sky for short periods, and then hunker down inside to warm up before going out again.  How perfect is that?  It was somewhere around 10 degrees outside, so it wasn't exactly comfortable hanging out on the balcony for long periods of time.  I have to say, the best way to view the aurora is when you have a bed you can go snuggle in for warmth every 5-10 minutes!

One of the compelling qualities of the aurora was how quickly it changed.  It would undulate from a hefty swath sweeping across the sky to a skinny line along the horizon, and then it would balloon back up to cover a sizable expanse of sky again.  It was such an incredible phenomenon to finally get to see in person.  And I'm seriously tickled that I managed to capture some photos of it!

Let's hear it for crossing off number 68.

Ta-ta for now.

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