Over the coming months, I”ll be posting a series about my favorite trips of all time. Who knows? Maybe my favorite destinations are yours too.
Top of the list: Aurora Borealis viewing in Alaska.
I flew into Fairbanks and spent a few days at nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort. I visited in March (which I read offers high probability of viewing the lights). The temperatures ranged from negative 20 to 10 degrees each day. Disembarking the plane that first night as I bundled up in my subarctic down coat, I watched in awe as hearty Alaskans put on lighweight windbreakers.
My agenda in Alaska was simple. See the elusive Northern Lights, and see them I did…
Chena Resort offered trips at midnight to the top of a nearby hill where a Mongolian style yurt was erected for shelter. Inside the yurt, we huddled around space heaters drinking hot chocolate and from time to time sauntered out to view the lights. Towards the end of our viewing at about 3:00 am, I had to use the outhouse in negative 20 degrees! I put it off as long as I could thinking I could wait till I got back to the room, but no such luck. Let me tell you, I’ll never forget that experience of a “refreshing” blast of cold air!
But when I look at the gorgeous ripples and patterns in the sky, I think it was oh so worth it.
In addition to viewing the Aurora, a few other fun events were going on at the time. If you’re considering a trip to Fairbanks, March is an excellent time.
I attended the Fairbanks Ice Festival and admired the most amazing artistic creations.
I also watched the Open North American Mush Champioship, and even went on my own dog sled ride. I don’t have to tell you how amazing these dogs are, do I? They have the keenest sense of hearing. The musher barely said something under his breath, and the dogs followed directions.
When I wasn’t mushing or gazing at lights, I scurried out in my bathing suit despite the freezing temperatures to soak in the Chena Hot Springs. Be warned! Your body will be warm, but you’ll have icycles growing off your eyelashes!
On the way to the airport the last night, I was driving my rental car when I noticed the subtle green hue of the Aurora rise from the horizon. I pulled over to the side of the road, got out, and watched the lights dance around in the air, bidding me farewell.
Have you ever seen the Aurora Borealis? Are you a cold weather traveler or a heat seeker?