Air Canada Rules...or not!

So, right after I awoke to clear skies and no ice at all (see yesterday’s blog: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/2011/01/31/delayed/), Air Canada managed to rebook me to Yukon so that I arrived pretty much the same day I was originally supposed to. I say “pretty much,” because I actually arrived in Yukon at 1:00 AM, but at least I was able to go out photographing with Richard Hartmier after a few hours sleep.

The downside of my rebooking was that I arrived in Whitehorse, Yukon safe and sound, but my luggage did not. Thirty-five passenger bags were left in Vancouver for some inexplicable reason. I was able to get them by noon, though.

I’ve started using my SPOT GPS system, so you’ll be able to follow me in real time.. once I figure out how to link you to the correct site.

Our photo day was a bust in terms of images, but still a fun experience. It actually rained most of the afternoon! Now, we’re talking Yukon, folks. It should have been snowing. The temperature was a balmy 5C (41F), highly unusual this far north.

After a short nap, Richard picked me up again at 11:30 PM for a try at photographing the Northern Lights. Predictions at www.spaceweather.com and the University of Alaska’s Northern Lights tracking site were for the start of a few days of good displays, but after two hours of standing around, waiting, a heavy layer of clouds moved in and we drove back to town.

Still, the experience was wonderful. The stars were so bright and close, you felt like you could just reach out and touch them. The temperature had dropped and the wind off Fish Lake was blowing steadily, but we were both dressed with layers and snow pants and a good parka. Then, in the distance, Richard was the first to pick up the howling of wolves. There is simply no way to properly describe the feeling of that sound, carried across the lake. Despite my layers, the howling gave me chills.

I get emotional at times like that, grateful for the opportunity to feel such a visceral connection to our natural world, but also keenly aware of just how fragile this tiny planet is, spinning within a nondescript galaxy in the immensity of the universe. It’s enough to make you wonder if we are wasting a once-in-a-universe opportunity to get it right.

I shared my thoughts with Richard, a curmudgeonly iconoclast if I ever met one, at which point he shared with me his deeply spiritual beliefs on the origin of our species. “It was a spaceship,” he says seriously, although in the pitch black it’s hard to see his face. “Just as they were passing earth they dumped their bilge tank. The conditions were just right. Voila, humans!”

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