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the postcard view I wish I could have taken

Northern Lights ..... For someone who wasn't nearly prepared for the cold, I dressed as warm as possible for the Northern Lights. But, I had no gloves and should have worn two pair of socks.  As part of my ill preparation, I put on layers with two pair of pants, a t-shirt, two regular shirts, a pullover hoodie, a woolen cap, a coat and an additional t-shirt replacing the scarf I didn’t think to pack. None of this protected me enough.  I was frozen in Iceland.  No wonder it has that name!

There were five tourists with a guide.  It was a small, personal trip away from the tourist buses that made it worth the extra cost for me.  But, there is one little secret that nobody ever mentions until after the ticket is purchased. We've all seen the photos with those amazing greens, blues, purples and reds in the sky. Well, truth be told, it might be more accurate to call them the Northern Whites. Yep, our guide said he only sees those blues, purples, greens and reds about two or three times a season.  The rest of the time, the lights are white. We only saw white, but it was very dramatic.  In fact, the show was so good that the guide said it was in the top 95% of his viewings.  That last 5% is reserved for those few nights with color.

From my solo seat in the back of the four-wheel drive, I had great legroom but I couldn’t see much from the windows.  I saw one band of white appear to separate the sky in half from top to bottom.  At first, I thought it was a strange cloud formation.  However, when we parked and I literally crawled out of the vehicle, I realized that there were bands of light like a double rainbow stretching all across the sky.  The lights changed constantly.  It was like a solar dance.  Soon, the double rainbow joined at one end to form a loop.  When those lights disappeared, we headed on down the road away from the moonlight.  In the second spot, the lights glowed like an astronomical halo over the mountains before us. 

But, it was so cold! 

It was so unbelievably freezin' cold!  I’d seen enough.  When we piled back into the van, I huddled in the back for warmth. I might have even dozed off as we headed to an open area near the president’s home.  Who knew anyone could go there?  Certainly not if an American president lived in the vicinity.  And, the lights changed one more time. Our guide said it was rare for the lights to disappear and then return in this kind of spectacular glory. This final time, swirls like Van Gogh "Starry Night" whirled across the sky.  Cold, yes, but oh, so, worth it.M

Copyright 2015 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.
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