I’m a warm weather person. Being from Texas, this goes without saying. I have many fond memories of celebrating the Christmas season in shorts – enjoying the warm sun on my face as I chuckle at those up in the northern US, busy shoveling snow out of their driveways or having to de-ice their car every time they want to go anywhere. I would think to myself, why would anyone want to live in conditions like that?
Which is why I find it even more insane that I am going to the Arctic Circle – in January. I must be having a brain freeze because this is truly crazy. On January 13th, I’m packing every article of clothing I own and boarding a plane to Norway. My husband, Ross – the Canadian who chuckles at every American because we don’t know how to drive in snow – is meeting me there. We will spend a few days in Oslo before heading even further north to Tromsø, Norway. Because surely Oslo isn’t going to be cold enough.
Tromsø is situated on a small island located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It is the largest urban area in Northern Norway and has been labeled the “Paris of the North”. Funny that I keep finding myself in Paris wannabes since Budapest, the city I lived in for almost 2 years, is dubbed “Paris of the East”. One of these days I should just go to the real thing – or balance it all out by finding the “Paris of the South” and “Paris of the West” – which I guess is really Paris, France (or is it possibly Paris, Texas?).
What attracted me to Northern Norway in the first place is one thing – the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. I don’t do bucket lists, but if I did, witnessing the Northern Lights would definitely be at the top of it. And capturing the phenomenon with my camera would be even more amazing. But even though I will be in the right spot, it may not be at the right time. Seeing the mysterious aurora, caused by charged particles from solar winds interacting with the atmosphere and a whole other bunch of science-y stuff, is never guaranteed. The sky has to be dark, it has to be free of clouds, it depends on sun activity, and it usually doesn’t show itself for very long. So there is a lot of waiting around, standing outside for possibly hours in the middle of the night in temperatures well below freezing, for just the chance of a glimpse of the lights. And getting a photo? At that point, I’ll be lucky if my fingers are able to move enough to click the shutter button.
So after traveling all that way, after standing for hours when I should be warm and cozy in slumber, enduring arctic winds and temperatures – after I am one of those people I always laughed at – I still may not see them. But it’s well worth a shot.