The days are much longer now. The sky is light when I head to work in the mornings around 0620. My dorm room has no windows, so it’s always a surprise when I walk out to see a light blue/gray sky. We’ve been fortunate lately, the weather has been spectactular over the past two days. Sunday when I went to work, there was very little wind and the snow looked pristine as it blanketed everything. The weather on Saturday ensured a fresh covering a snow, thanks to high winds. When we first arrived, the sky was still dark when I went to work. The new dawn colors invigorate me but I’ll miss the dark skys of early Winfly, the alpenglow, the nacreous clouds and stars.
Monday was my first day off in my set of off days. I went to breakfast with my roommate and then went back to sleep. Ah sleep. It’s so easy when there are no windows in the room. The beds aren’t too bad, no worse than the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, and since we don’t have extra roommates now, I have taken one of the spare pillows for my own use. I’m going to have to find a replacement soon. The next flights start coming in on October 3rd and I’ll be forced to hand over my reappropriated goods. I have a spare fleece with me that I’ll more than likely fold up and stuff in a pillowcase. That should work.
After my nap, I joined the masses for lunch. While at lunch, Kate and I decided to tackle Ob Hill, which I wrote about in the previous post.
After the Ob Hill attempt and blog, I cleaned up and headed to dinner. I joined Kate, Brook and the dentist, Kressley. Kressley is from Australia and takes some positively amazing photos. After dinner, we sat around discussing what the possibilities of seeing auroras tonight was. Kressley is on an email notification list and recieved a notification about Monday night being a good time to see auroras between 0100 and 0300. We decided if the skies were clear, we were going to hike up behind the VMF and attempt to look for them. We found some other people who were interested in skygazing and made plans to meet in my building at 0100 if things looked good.
I headed over to the firehouse for my second chess lesson with Rick at 2000. After the game (which I lost but was assured that I did much better), he mentioned that he would play another round but needed to go to bed. I told him that I had to go to bed as well, because I was going to be getting up at 1230 to go look for auroras. He seemed interested in that statement and asked if I was also going out on Tuesday night. I didn’t/don’t know if I’ll be going out Tuesday night, but I told him that I thought it would be an excellent idea if he was able to do some night time area familiarization. Granted we only have a few weeks of darkness left, but, still it was a brilliant idea. He told me he would let me know after he spoke to one of his lieutenants. I also asked Genievive, the night time dispatcher, if she would page me if she heard anything from the Lt. Shortly after walking into my dormroom, I got a page from G saying that the Lt agreed to it. Then I got a page from Rick, informing me to be at the firehouse at 0130.
After a few hours of tossing and turning, I woke, dressed and headed to the firehouse. I was a bit dismayed about not seeing any stars, but being out in the dark was still great. The weather wasn’t too bad, I believe it was only -35. It’s funny to write that. I love you Antarctica.
Shortly after arriving at the firehouse and talking with G a while, Rick joined us and we waited for Alan. And waited. And waited. Rick knocked on Alan’s door but recieved no answer. We decided to give Alan 15 more minutes. Then G sent him a page and Alan showed up shortly after. The guys quickly threw on their gear, and we hopped into the ambulance and headed out to look for auroras, I mean, to do some night time area familiarization.
After having not ridden in a vehicle for several weeks, riding in one, especially seated backwards, is an odd sensation. I rode in the back of the ambulance, which is different than the ones at GCFD. I mostly kept turned to look forward through the windshield, hoping that the skies would magically clear and we would see some awe-inspiring sites. We parked near the base of the same hill that I attempted to hike earlier that day. Rick assisted me out of the back of the ambulance and the three of us stood there, at the base of Ob Hill, each silently hoping that the southern lights would grace us with their appearance. Unfortunately, the cloud cover remained and the only thing we saw were a few loaders or dozers or whatever the term for the big catepillar tractors that clear or grate the roadways is. We gave up after a few minutes, loaded up and headed back to the firehouse.
When we arrived back “home” (it’s hard not to think of that place as home), I thanked both of them and wished them pleasant dreams. I told Rick that despite the fact that we didn’t see the auroras tonight, it was still great to get outside when the skies were dark.
Perhaps tomorrow night. I only have a few more chances to see the elusive auroras this season and if I don’t go out and try to look for them, I definitely won’t see them at all.