Next in Our Imagines Series: Northern Lights

Imagine….

the Northern Lights splash across the canvas above you. 

At first, they had been a mere smudge, like the dull beam of a lone hiker’s flashlight, shining up through the distant pointed firs.

But then they brightened. And spiked upward like a sword into the sky.

Their glow schmeared across the starry darkness and became a greenish flame with tips of rosy purple.

The Lights struck celestial poses – a long loopy swirl like an author’s signature inside your favorite novel, a grid of blobs made by a painter’s goopy brush on canvas,  a roundish cloud like a conversation bubble. With each new pose, you cheer and squeal in the freezing steely air. The snow squeaks under your boots as you jump around in delight.

The finger of Lights spreads, reaching across the horizon of this wide-open Arctic sky. Like a white rainbow, their curve seems to trace the arch of the earth.

And then the Lights start to dance, literally jumping back and forth.  You gasp. With the energy of a July thunderstorm, it feels wild and exhilarating, bizarrely fresh and maybe dangerous.

Your driver Norton has turned out to be a serendipitous acquaintance.  In the last 36 hours, he has driven you out to the Balantine trailhead to meet a dog-musher for a spirited ride behind 10 yapping leaping panting huskies through the Alaskan woods.  He has waited at the annual Ice Alaska park while you flew down the ice sluice and wandered the ice village of log cabins and lifesize walk-in trains. He delivered you to the Turtle Club, a Fairbanks institution up on the Steese Highway for a dish of its trademark succulent prime rib.   And if you’re game, he has invited you for a night of ice-fishing with his pals.

But this tops it all.  Norton recognized the prime Northern Lights predictors – cold air and a clear sky – and checked the online Lights forecast before picking you up at 10:30 pm for this wee hours adventure.   He drove you to a secret summit where only 2 other locals’ cars are parked. And he has brought his camera! Thank goodness, because no setting on your iPhone or handheld Sony can capture this.

You stand at the top of the frozen world with a kaleidoscopic fire show overhead.  It’s 2am– time to leave. It’s 2:30 – you still can’t tear yourself away. When your fingers can stand the cold no longer, you reluctantly crawl back into the toasty van and drive away from this Arctic party.  The Lights dance in your rear view mirror as you drive down the mountain back to Fairbanks.   “That was a trip of lifetime”, you say.  “Let’s do it again next year.”

 

A Scottish Castle Crawl

Have you ever been on a Scottish Castle Crawl? You can visit 5 wonderful castles in this idyllic countryside in just six days! Explore the roots of Celtic culture as well as falconry and other lovely traditions.

Take a drive through magnificent countryside, visiting beautiful vistas, secluded waterfronts, postcard small towns, and towering castles from history and get a real feel for the Scottish lifestyle. You can even spend the night in a castle, with modern design and amenities for an extra experience!

 

Sugar Shackin’ in Montreal

Need a sugar high? Look no further than the Cabane d’a Cote in Montreal, where you can snack on the delicious Canadian tradition of maple candy. Montreal’s “tree water” (maple syrup) is flowing and you can visit a local sugar shack and feast on a 5-course maple menu, from TV celebrity chefs for an added experience!

 

Enjoy your meal while the maple candy is made right before your very eyes! The maple syrup is poured out over a layer of white snow on the table to cool for a bit. Then you can pick up the sweet treat with your fingers and pop it right into your mouth!

Come Fly With Me: Falconry at a Scottish Castle

 

Ever wanted to hang out with Falcons? Look no further than Scotland! That is the home of the Falconry at the Scottish   Dalhousie Castle. Get to know these majestic creatures as they perch right on your arm.

Learn all about falcons from their caretakers and get a great history lesson. You can meet the birds, learn the history, wear the glove! Take a walk with falcons and view the incredible Scottish scenery with an ancient castle in the background.

Fairytale in Finland

Want to visit a fairytale? Hea to Finland! This wonderful adventure to Lapland includes beautiful snowy scenery, majestic creatures and good conversation. Sleep under the stars in a hut with a glass roof, providing 180 degree views.

Or if you want to warm up a bit, head over to the hot spring and soak in hot water! Then see an authentic igloo (which can also be slept in) which is made entirely by hand with ice and snow.

Winter Reindeer Sleigh Adventure

Ever wanted to see a reindeer? Take a trip to the Jaakkolan Porotila Reindeer Farm in Lapland and meet some! The entire landscape is encased in snow like a winter wonderland. Visitors can walk with these majestic creatures through the snow and enjoy a truly unique experience.

In addition to the reindeer, visitors can try the local Finnish brown bread, a yummy delicacy. Take a break from the bitter cold temperatures and share some stories with the locals in a backcountry hutte.

Ashram in the Bahamas

What’s better than being in paradise? Being zen in paradise! Check out Sivananda’s Ashram which is located on the beautiful white sand beaches of the Bahamas. Meditate, eat vegetarian cuisine and try out all types of relaxing yoga to find your piece of mind.

Gray Whales in Baja

An excellent way to have fun on vacation is with an ocean adventure. Hit the open water in a boat and get up close and personal with whales! These magnificent creatures are a true sight to see and you can get close enough to touch them.

THIS is how close those baby gray whales get in San Ignacio Laguna in Baja Sur!

Swimming with Sea Lions

When you go in the ocean. you should expect to see amazing things! Some people see colorful fish and others go to Mexico and end up swimming with dozens of sea lions!

That’s right, just swim around minding your own business and a bunch of sea lions will swim around doing the same. It’s quite a sight to see!