Leaving the North Country Fair

Posted by ehren

Saturday and Sunday I stayed and the campground, working a decent chunk of Sunday, but spending most of Saturday on the internet wasting time. Sean and I went for a shorter bike ride Saturday, into the town of Chambermere for a pint. Sunday we cooked pork on the grill after I successfully started a fire with one match, no paper, no cardboard, no lighter fluid, just wood. I should admit that 10 or so matches were used to heat the kindling before I actually tried to light the it.

We never saw Allison on Saturday, phone calls didn't go through, we were too lazy to leave the campground, and she had to catch an 11pm bus back to Banff, and so disappears our last chance to convince someone to drive with us on the 1,000 mile stretch through the Boringest Land There Ever Was, between Calgary and Minneapolis (or so we've heard). Sean and Rana thought somehow that epic mountain ranges would be more interesting.

Indepdendently, Miro and I cleaned the bus from top to bottom Sunday, perhaps for the last time on the trip. We'll be in Wisconsin in 14 days. I've decided to move to Austin after we're done (sorry Mouser!), after a month in Wisconsin working, converting to biodiesel, then another prolonged social tour of the Northeast. I've driven the 1,100 miles from MKE to BOS at least a dozen times, and that's about eleven times too many, so I'm going to fly. So, starting in late September Texas had better be prepared.

Sunday night, after spending a few hours bullshitting around the fire, I kept looking up to see a strange high altitude haze in the Northern part of the sky. I've only been in Calgary for a week, who knows what the weather is like, and given the cold winds booming down from the Yukon some days it wouldn't surprise me if the jet stream's effects were visible (Mike? Any help here?). But at one point, I stood up and looked over the roof of an adjacent RV, and saw several brighter vertical bands in the cloud.... Northern Lights.

They were beautiful. I didn't even try to take a picture, knowing that The Little Canon S50 That Could wouldn't capture anything. For about a half hour we watched the effects, mainly a gigantic ghostly ribbon. The way I understand the effect (charged solar wind particles discharging photons when accellerated by the Earth's magnetosphere) the ribbons we saw could have been ten thousand miles long or more, from Greenland to Russia. Shimmering white bands extended occasionally from the top of the main ribbon as far up as up goes, foreshortened into daggers into the star at the top of the sky. For a while big shivers of color ran through the main wall (there was another one...underneath the first, smaller, or farther away), the hem of Heaven's gown.

Go and see it someday.