Friday, March 9, 2012

A Nighttime Drive

Last night was supposed to be prime viewing for the Northern Lights.  Solar flares had the potential to destroy our electronic equipment and give people even in the lower forty-eight a light show.  Jerry was super tired after a long day at work, but I begged him to perk up, plied him with coffee and earl grey tea, and got him to agree to a drive away from town where we'd stand a better chance of seeing the lights.  We bundled Victor up, got some hot chocolate from a drive through, and hit the road.  At which point Victor started grumbling.

He was convinced we were going to get in another wreck.  My child has become the world's worst backseat driver.  Slow down.  Watch the road.  Don't drive into that snowbank.  He was tired and wanted us to go home.  What's the big deal about stupid lights in the sky, he wanted to know.  I told him about when I was a little girl my mom and dad packed us a nighttime picnic (complete with the ultimate treat - Capri Suns!), and we drove out to the middle of nowhere to wait for Halley's Comet.  My memory of that night is very romantic, but I wonder if my parents had to contend with two whiny children in the backseat all night long.  Maybe they were asking themselves why they were dragging us out to the middle of a field late at night.  Maybe they considered leaving us in the middle of that field late at night.

We made it as far as Peter's Creek, which is a 30-45 minute drive from Anchorage, and stopped at a park.  Because last night was a full moon we could barely see the lights in the sky, but it served to let Victor run around for a minute and stretch his legs.  He found the Little Dipper for me, and I pointed out Orion's Belt and Cassiopeia.  That pretty much exhausted my knowledge of constellations.  Also, it was maybe 1 degree outside.  As we were driving home the lights suddenly became very clear.  Of course, without proper equipment there is no way to get an amazing picture, but they did show up a bit.    

They became astonishingly clear as we were driving on the highway, so I took a couple of pictures with the window down.  Victor didn't even complain about the cold wind because he was too distracted by Jerry's sudden stop on the side of the road.  He was screaming at the top of his lungs as I took this next picture.  I was yelling something along the lines of, "Victor, be quiet!  If you say one more thing about dying you're going to get a spanking!"   

Here the car is stopped.  Victor was suddenly quiet as the three of us stared, slack jawed, at the celestial display.  

When we got home Jerry and I laughed because the sky was filled with the lights.  You couldn't ignore them.  It looked like someone was spreading them across the sky with a paintbrush, and then shaking them off the canvas to start over again.  They swirled over our heads like they were mocking us.  Reminding us that our plans are silly and laughable.  


  1. I must come up there to see the Northern Lights!

  2. I used to sit in my back yard in a down coat, sleeping bag, with a glass of bourbon, watching the northern lights. I can't imagine seeing them that clearly.

  3. Oh, and I'm Lucky 13 to you, Southern Girl.