goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


2 Comments

Bucket List Item Checked

Back when my older two kids graduated high school, my mom asked me to plan a trip for her to take them to Alaska as a celebration of their achievement. I refused, declaring that any vacation to the 49th State would have to include me. And that is how I ended up in Alaska with a vanload of family members for a few weeks one summer a few decades ago.

We all were a lot younger then.

I knew one day I would return. The grandeur of the mountains. The breaching of a whale. The light at 10pm at night. The distances with dramatic long views. All told me that there was much more to experience in Alaska.

The desire to see the Northern Lights has to be weighed against the fact that they are only visible when it is dark and summer nights are not dark in Alaska. The time to visit is the REST of the year, with December through February the prime time because of the length of the arctic night.

But it is cold. Way colder than any place I have lived. I knew my winter boots MIGHT be adequate but that was the only outerwear I owned that I could trust. Since the right kind of clothing could add up to over a thousand dollars and we would not have any use for it after the trip, I was very pleased to learn that rental clothing rated to -20F or -40F was available. And now that I have had the experience to FEEL -22F, I can let you know it is worth the expense. The only complaint I could say is that when I got myself all zipped in and fully covered, if we hung around inside, sweat happened. Good clothes.

Graham and I flew into Fairbanks. There are a few areas in the northern hemisphere where Aurora Borealis tourism excels and Fairbanks is the stepping off point for many of them.

I had long heard that if you want to see the aurora borealis, you better plan three opportunities. And sure enough, our first night was cloudy. We enjoyed a salon dinner in a yurt that is 100% off the grid. Nice company and okay food, but no sky view.

The next day, evening we were back at the yurts and our guide and our host informed us that something unexpected was happening: it was early (9:30pm) and the show had already started. For those of you who followed our trip on Facebook, you already know I needed to take a day to analyze the experience.

Alaska: January 29

We are used to quick gratification. Waiting 15 seconds for a page to open on a screen has gotten to be annoying. 15 seconds of a pause in stimulation feels different now than it did to me even five years ago. There’s a lot written about how our screen time affects us. Last night I learned that slow-motion is not what I am used to any longer.

I’m going to steal Dickens’ opening to a Tale of Two Cities to say my aurora boreal viewing last night was the best of times and the worst of times. And I’m not talking about the COLD.

I learned a long time ago that I can’t control the weather and that you just can’t see anything of the sky when it is cloudy. Our first night here was cloudy.

The forecast for yesterday was more promising. We expected clearing at 1am. As we drove to the place, we learned that some of the other aurora viewing teams reported lights already and it was only 10pm. That raised the anticipation.

We got to the yurts, the same place we had enjoyed the evening before and the guide and one guy who has been here 3 weeks (this was his 20th night out) started exclaiming with delight that the show was upon us.

The stars were amazing. The Big Dipper was at an angle I had never viewed before (duh). Of course it is almost directly overhead here. Orion was also in a different spot.

Looking at the sky, I saw what looked like a cloud. No color-sort of white. And a few minutes later it had stretched into a horizontal line. A short while later it feathered vertically and stretched more. And then dissipated.

And then another. And then another. Walking outside of the heated yurt I enlarged my view and could see all around and the sky was full of these things.

Slowly, ever so slowly shifting. All around us everywhere. All around. Everywhere.

We did not get the colors last night. I think the rating on the scale (high is 10) was a 2 or a 3. But I certainly am not complaining.

Green tinted aurora above the yurts

The third night we went in a different direction to a hot springs resort at Chena. That evening, there was a small burst of color around 8:30, but nothing much. Yet, on the 2-hour ride back to Fairbanks, the driver and I noticed a lot of wide towers of lights through the trees. Whenever he hit one of his safe parking areas, the show was not happening, tho.

We spent some time early in the third day wandering into shops and lucked into an artists coop. There, one piece of fused glass kept calling for my attention…and surprise, surprise, it followed us home. I felt it was a beautiful and pretty accurate depiction of what we saw our second night.

What is a bucket list? Simply, a list of desired things to do or see before you kick the proverbial bucket. And I really don’t remember when I added the aurora borealis to my list; it just always has been something I wanted to see. And right now, I can’t name another item. Although there are lots of things I still want to see and do, none reaches this level of intense desire. Well, maybe Barcelona……


4 Comments

Reaping What You Sow

Karma…..many of us know the pretty relaxed concept…..what goes around comes around. You actions, good or bad, will come back to you later in time. send out get back

Taking that concept…let’s look at some of the things I saw on my Facebook feed today.

Now this one is probably a concept many agree with. This person is expressing to the best of her ability her fear with the President’s announcement last night to define, by Executive Order, part of the current immigration policy that the House of Representatives failed to work on. It is an important concept and one many support. While I personally don’t see the need to have an “official” language in this country, I do think it is smart for immigrants to learn English in order to achieve the best success they can. I also urge native born Americans to learn English as well.

English language

If you agree with her message, does her misspelling disturb you or do you think the message is more important than the method?

Many of the undocumented workers keep themselves apart and do not mingle but there are many people of all kinds who may be working at low paying jobs and just have a hard time making ends meet. This is food insecurity and it exists in your neighborhood. Here in McMinnville we  have soup kitchens that operate that provide at least one hot meal a day.st barnabus soup kitchen

The local food bank recently reduced what food the soup kitchens could purchase. This leaves their budgets strained. If you can, give.  If you can’t afford to give, go help.

Related to the latest political wrestling match I still saw a number of these today.exec order

The reminder was not only that Republic Presidents had gone ahead to clarify immigration issues through Executive Order, but they also had done it legally.

And speaking of Republican Presidents who used Executive Orders, I suspect the one that used it to make the largest change in our American history was Lincoln. Although Mathew Brady and others were beginning to use photography in the days of the Civil War, it was assumed no photograph of Abraham Lincoln existed until a plate was found and examined closely.Lincoln

Almost 90 years after the Gettysburg Address, Josephine Cobb, the chief of the Still Photo section at the National Archives, discovered a glass plate negative taken by Mathew Brady of the speaker’s stand at Gettysburg on the day of its dedication as a National Cemetery. Her perseverance and dedication to the task helps us get a better feeling for the events of that charged time.

In the midst of difficult times, some people hunker down. Others feel rules don’t apply to them I heard a lot yesterday of the difficulty the Buffalo area was having because as streets were cleared, people broke the travel curfew, ventured out and got stuck, needing to be rescued and their cars cleared from the streets.  It is hard to repress curiosity, for sure, but I hold this person in high esteem.3 feet of snow

Not only did he or she venture out, but they left us something to enjoy. Art wins.

And finally, something to ponder.potential

How do you chose to express yourself?

 

 


1 Comment

Amber Fort Wins Best Fort Prize

Ft Ti firing demoWhen I was quite young we stopped at Fort Ticonderoga in New York State on one of our family vacations. A colonial era fort, Ticonderoga stayed in my memory as one of my favorite places so much that I had my family stop there about five years ago.  Somehow, it had shrunk and my kids were not impressed.

Well, travelfans, do I have a fort for you!!! Imagine, if you will, the Amber Fort of Jaipur, high on a ridge overlooking the valley. Built in 1592 by Raja Man Singh, this palace has it all: amazing architectural details and wonderful stairways and corridors that beckon you on and on.DSCF6339

But first, let me set the tone.You should stop first by the lake and visit with the snake charmer. For a small fee you, too, can blow on the nasally sounding flute and keep a close eye on the cobra. snake Then climb aboard one of the wonderfully decorated elephants

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

and ride in leisure up up up the climbing roadway to the Sun Gate.

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

Try to ignore the vendor running alongside enticing you with an ever declining price for the elephant bedspread he is hawking. Tell him it is made poorly and you have no interest, tossing it back to him continuously as the elephant takes you higher and higher. Remember to ignore the vendor to take in the view of the gardensDSCF6359and the fortress wall climbing the opposite hillside.DSCF6351 When you enter the courtyard and he is losing hope, pay the man 10% of his originally stated price and tuck the blanket away, to be used later to sew custom made bags for people who want one that has an essence of this trip.

INdian elephant blanket And then look around the courtyard.

nancye

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

And start exploring.  So much to see. The stairs beckoning you upwards DSCF6378to the plaza.

DSCF6383The mosaicsDSCF6389 all over the place, in the wallsDSCF6380, in the ceilings….everywhere.

Remind yourself that this all was built in 1592, well over 400 years ago. Enjoy the colorsDSCF6407

and the carvings. Everywhere, more detailing.

DSCF6409

Every ceiling different. And the passageways….follow this one…then that one.

DSCF6402Ask someone who works there how to get back to the courtyard where Arvind asked everyone to meet in 20 minutes before moving to another section of the fort.

DSCF6384

Meet up with the group in time and maintain your good standing. And then go again. See another section…it is a huge place.

DSCF6385Peek out of windows to view other places inside the fortDSCF6398 and the surrounding countryside.DSCF6399DSCF6418

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then down another passageway

DSCF6414through another gate

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

source: Nancy Leung SmarTours

and still more to see with huge cooking pots.

nancyk

and then out beyond the outer gate past more vendors and then a jeep ride back to the bus.

nancy h

Amber Fort……put it on your list of places to visit, but only if you like to explore.  You DO like to explore, don’t you!!