One of my all time favorite undertakings was touring Alaska as a concept theme teacher for OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) and Brad’s World Reptiles. One day I crossed paths with another teacher, Andy Lindberg. I must confess I relished being first into a village and asking the children if they ever saw the film “Stand By Me”? No I never met River Phoenix, but I promised them something better than that! That cool big kid that did the projectile vomiting scene was all grown up and coming town!!!!
Andy was working the OMSI circuit presenting something called “GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!” and he lit up their worlds and their gymnasiums. But this night the Aurora Borealis literally lit up all of Alaska.
Andy and I were both in Ruby Alaska overlapping at the same time for one night. I had already given my presentation on Rain Forests and I was leaving the next day for a return trip to Fairbanks and an all night solitary drive with only a February full moon to guide my way to Tok Alaska.
We tossed our bedrolls out in the village school’s library. Andy commandeered one aisle. I took an interior aisle next to his. I recall rearranging some books so we could have a “window” of conversation before grabbing some shut-eye and I was hoping to grab morning shower-time before the village started streaming in. (We usually stayed in the schools because it was the ONLY source of flowing hot water in the entire village that time of the year. I remember how it was necessary to be finished with my shower before 4am or I would be taking up valuable space that belonged to a villager!)
Suddenly Andy exclaimed through our tiny book shelf void to “LOOK! LOOK! GET DRESSED! LET”S GO OUTSIDE!” Jeez – February midnight in Alaska! Are you kidding me? I am still fully clothed inside my sleeping bag! Our eyes were glued to the bank of library windows. Full spectrum of colors raged across the sky. When I signed up for this adventure all I asked for was Northern Lights and a few moose sightings! So far both had been somewhat elusive.
Andy and I found a door and blocked it open. Neither of us wanted to be found as Popsicles the next morning. We each took a chair and our sleeping bags to the school’s parking lot. OMG, it was so cold!! Andy set his wrist watch alarm for 10 minutes and we tipped back and saw the show of a lifetime. Angry red, purple and green curtains raged across the sky and totally mesmerized us. Thankfully the watch alarm worked perfectly and we hauled our behinds back inside to thaw out. And 20 minutes later we did it all over again! Green Purple Red – RED GREEN PURPLE!!!! You couldn’t help but wonder when the dancing curtain was going to drop down, enfold you and carry you away, but I was willing to go with it . . . !!!!
So why am I telling you all of this? I just watched a video by goldpaint photography based in Bend Oregon. (I have been fortunate enough to catch the aurora borealis vibrantly shining from I-205 Clackamas all the way to Estacada a few years ago during a long drive home at 10pm so I know first hand this is real here. LOL. (When I was a kid growing up in Oregon I wasn’t too sure how real the Northern Lights were or if they were just another something-er other in a fairy tale!!!) enjoy!
This is what he has to say about his(?) experience: “I drove to Crater Lake National Park on the night of May 31, 2013 to photograph the Milky Way rising above the rim. I’ve waited months for the roads to open and spring storms to pass, so I could spend a solitude night with the stars. Near 11pm, I was staring upward towards a clear night sky when suddenly, without warning, an unmistakable faint glow of the aurora borealis began erupting in front of me. I quickly packed up my gear, hiked down to my truck, and sped to a north facing location. With adrenaline pumping, I raced to the edge of the caldera, set up a time-lapse sequence, and watched the northern lights dance until sunrise. The moon rose around 2am and blanketed the surrounding landscape with a faint glow, adding depth and texture to the shot. The last image in the sequence above shows the route of the International Space Station (ISS) which flew over at 2:35am”
http://vimeo.com/goldpaintphotography/withoutwarning Please feel free to share #withoutwarning
See more images at goldpaintphotography.com/2013/06/02/without-warning/
Music composed by Ben Beiny entitled, “The Right Moment”