Quite a day!
Before breakfast we learned that our leader, Mark, had received news that his Father had passed away suddenly. To say the least it was quite a shock to him and to us. Mark is a very caring individual and really enjoys sharing his knowledge of an area and what you are trying to photograph. After about three hours of thinking things out he was back with a plan and had thought out the possibilities for our trip to continue. He has designated a person to take over the driving of the Van for us, and given us a couple of choices of how we should proceed. He has worked hard to get us set up with snacks, scheduled dog sled riding, and proceeded to educate us on shooting techniques, and locations to choose for photographing the Northern Lights. He will be leaving for his home in Illinois on Sunday evening to be with his family.
This afternoon we were off to Wal-Mart for snacks, and also a tripod for a participant who needed to replace one she had brought. Then we went on a scouting mission for one of the Northern Light sites. This was Olne's Pond. On the way in we had to negotiate a low area in the road which had colliected water and ice due to the warm weather of late. Once at Olne's Pond we went over camera settings and tried to get the lay of the land for different photo compositions. We ran into trouble trying to leave as we got off of the road and into some deep packed snow. After much backing and filling, using an announcement board at the sight, and more backing and filling, we were able to get the van turned around and headed back to the highway.
Back on the highway, Elliot Parkway, we headed for the small town of Fox for an early dinner at the Turtle Club. It is quite the bar and restaurant, with very good food. There are all sorts of collections of turtle figurines, etc. throughout the building. I had the halibut pieces which were battered and deep fried, along with a serving at the salad bar, and a baked potato. It was delicious but way too much food. I came away with three pieces of halibut which may get fed to the dogs tomorrow. They also served fresh baked bread! It took about two hours for all of this to transpire, so when we arrived back in Fairbanks it was a quick stop to dress for a night out at Olne's Pond for the Northern Lights. We were probably back on the road in 20 minutes!!
All of the scouting and rushing around was worth it. We had a good night of viewing and photographing the Northern Lights. They started slow but came through with some good color including reds. We were out at the Pond until about 0200 when we packed up. We had to take out memory cards and batteries as the cameras have to SLOWLY warm up to room temperatures. Before going inside we remove memory cards and batteries, and then close up the camera bag so that there will not be condensation inside the camera or lenses. We had to be careful of condensation on both the camera and lense while we were shooting at the temperature hovered around freezing all evening. I have done a quick review of the pictures I took today, but they will not be posted right away as we got back to the Motel about 0300 and breakfast will be at 1000. It is now 0430 and time for shower and bed
OK here are a couple of pictures -- :-)