Posts tagged August
A Coin Toss and A Prolonged Lucky Break

What do you do when all your weather information is split almost perfectly in two between just the two highways we have running opposite directions from Yellowknife? Do you go with the evolving satellite imagery in hopes of more immediate success, or do you play the long game on overnight predictions?

We chose the former without completely overthinking it. We were able to intercept a small clear break and run with it up and down the highway over the course of four hours. A few hundred metres to just a few kilometres repeatedly made all the difference in the world tonight. Very lucky for a highway that hasn’t had a single thought or investment to support a continually increasing need for aurora viewing infrastructure.

Sean NormanAugust
The Early Bird Gets the Worm

If you consider that 9:15pm is early, and the worm is the first of consecutive break-ups.

It felt a little insane to be driving around town in an obvious ‘aurora chaser’ vehicle collecting guests from their accommodations while the sky was bright. Really bright. “It must be his first month here”, I can imagine were many thoughts.
But it was worth taking the chance to go very early tonight, to give ourselves extra time driving away if we needed it to escape any weather. The aurora was likely going to be good. Really good.
At the worst, I’d be wrong and we’d be sitting outside in camping chairs watching a twilight sky listening to the birds of the countryside.
At the best, we’d scramble to get our cameras set up as fast as possible because the aurora was waiting under a slowly darkening sky. It was a chance worth taking.

And it was the latter.

Sean NormanAugust

The weather initially was classically unpredictable. Or as we say, just another August night.

But as the aurora grew, the weather grew more and more perfect. There are nights in the winter where I know we’d be the luckiest to have just a hazy cloud with still decent transparency. We weren’t ever trapped under anything resembling an overcast sky, but the imperfection didn’t last so long anyway. Soon enough the sky clarity above us was perfect and the aurora just wouldn’t stop. She danced and danced all over the sky and it was ridiculously beautiful. I could even say I achieved a nice balance between taking photos and actually watching it.

Sean NormanAugust
August Rainshowers

Afternoon August showers and evening rainbows are one of my favourite Yellowknife things. Even if the downpour is just hours after thoroughly washing my car making her filthy again on the wet highways overnight. But there are worse things happening in the world right now.

Coming off months of bright nights and weeks of overnight twilight skies into a new moon phase, something about the Milky Way seemed especially beautiful tonight. It’s easy to forget how special views like this are after a summer eating veggie dogs at IKEA and reading on the grass in the sunshine for weeks at a time. The north is a special place.

Sean NormanAugust
A Spectacular Dragging of the Feet

It’s like when you don’t really want to do something, but you know you’re going to have to face it sooner rather than later and you just kind of drag your feet about it. There definitely isn’t any urgency, or any motivation. This sounds like a recipe for success of a small business doesn’t it?

So take me last night at about 2am. It had been hours of very gentle, but still quite beautiful auroral displays. Nearly the entire time, a tease of something more vibrant felt almost imminent. So where do you draw the line, and give in on driving back to Yellowknife? Probably pretty quickly after your guests start to say they feel satisfied and are ready for bed. But we hadn’t reached our peak yet tonight, probably maybe I think. So I definitely didn’t hurry getting packed up and prepped to begin the drive back, and no sooner had I opened my driver door to climb inside, it started. The next twenty minutes were worth everything.

Sean NormanAugust
Luck, Nerves, and Ten Kilometres

Tonight was about waiting for a moment, and trying to time that moment with the breaks of clear sky.
I eventually moved us just ten kilometres or so, as it turned out, at pretty much the very last moment to duck out of some heavier incoming cloud and it was worth every screech mark we left on the highway after becoming momentarily airborne from frost heave after frost heave. Just kidding, we really didn’t, but we easily could have.
The aurora tonight was truly one of those breathtaking experiences we dream of after. The sky lit up - curtains fell and danced in virtually every direction.

Sean NormanAugust

That’s what we needed. Patience and luck.

We got both tonight. It is hard to imagine how quietly the night started for us, but darkness fell and stars, constellations and galaxies were very appreciated while we waited.
As the aurora conditions changed favourably, it no sooner brought us much in the way of movement and hints of colour to our eyes.
Can we also just appreciate a second dead clear night in a row? Hello beautiful.

Sean NormanAugust
Darkness Arrived and Chaos That Follows

We left town early. It was a kind of intuition thing, but also an enjoyment thing to be away from the dozens of buses rushing out of town at the same time and then jostling for spots along the Ingraham Trail during a night of clear sky. We took a slow drive out opposite the bright twilight sky and found ourselves a little lakeside area. Before the sky was anywhere near dark, the aurora was already there waiting. She danced through the lingering twilight and into full darkness. It seemed just yesterday our sky was still twilight all through the night, but things change quickly and this is the plunge into winter.

Sean NormanAugust
Back with Crystal Clarity

Two quick nights off and it was just enough time to tile and grout three bathroom backsplashes. A little end of month reset before the insanity of September begins. Although for the chaos that our home has been in while we’ve ripped up and laid new bamboo flooring, installed three new bathroom vanities and now done this tile, I kind of feel like September on the Ingraham Trail would’ve been more relaxing. Just as rewarding? I’m not sure. The IKEA high gloss white cabinets and wood floors in the bedrooms has been a dream of mine for almost ten years.

But last night was a very good night. We knew it heading out of town, and although much of the night was gentle, it ended dramatically.

Sean NormanAugust
The Nights of Quiet Heartbreak

The night was perfect. The weather was absolutely beautiful - mostly clear with some passing scattered cloud at a comfortable 8°C. There wasn’t a mosquito to be heard anywhere, only the loons across the lake continually calling.
Six hours earlier at home looking at real time space weather information, it seemed certain it would be a night where everything came together. But nothing is certain in mother nature, and in the few hours from setting pick-up times to arriving in the countryside, auroral conditions had cooled off, significantly. For hours, this unfortunately left us with not much more than just a streak or two discernible only to a sharp eye on the LCD of a camera.

Sean NormanAugust