Friday, February 22, 2013

Chasing the Northern Lights in Alaska

        When people think of Alaska they immediately think of the arctic, snow, ice, and a general freezing cold. Well, when you tell people that you are going to Alaska in February they immediately think you are crazy. I have travelled the world and seen tons of different countries and geographical areas, but nothing compares and nowhere I have been comes close to the uniqueness and rugged natural beauty that is Alaska. The sheer size of Alaska is so big it is difficult to grasp, it is 1/3 the size of the land area of the entire 48 states, or about twice the size of Texas. Not only am I inspired and drawn to the extreme locals and geography, but as an astronomy aficionado the main astronomical phenomena I am chasing here on this Alaska adventure is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. The Aurora Borealis is a natural brightly colored occurrence as the Sun's radiation hits the Earth's magnetic field a beautiful display of charged particles light up the sky in our upper atmosphere, only visible near the poles and the best time of year to witness it is during the winter time when the nights are longer and chance of seeing the Aurora are the greatest, but you better pray for clear skies or it can be completely obscured. 
        The first stop on this arctic adventure is Anchorage, the most popular place to start your introduction into this sub-arctic wonderland. Surrounded by impressive snow covered mountains, Anchorage is a spread out bustling town of 300,000 out of Alaska's population of 730,000 folks with plenty of things to do, places to go and people to meet. By far Alaska's largest and most sophisticated city, Anchorage is situated in a truly spectacular location surrounded by permanently snow-covered peaks and volcanoes of the Alaska Range. To the west of the city, part of the craggy Chugach Range is actually within the eastern edge of the municipality, and the Talkeetna and Kenai ranges are visible to the north and south. On clear days Mt. McKinley looms on the northern horizon, and two arms of Cook Inlet embrace the town's western and southern borders.
        Staying at the comfortable and classy Copper Whale Inn, a gay friendly bed and breakfast located conveniently in the heart of downtown Anchorage, just a short walk from the city's restaurants, galleries, museums and attractions. One museum that I suggest is the largest museum in Alaska, The Alaska Museum of History and Art, where you can learn about Indigenous art, science, and the history of Alaska and it's cultures. Also a short distance away are the only two gay bars in town, Mad Myrna's and The Raven, if you want to see a super hot bartender, please make sure to ask for Chris Jones at Mad Myrna's (oucha mcgoucha). There is also a small Gay and Lesbian Center nearby on 5th Avenue just down the road so you can inquire on all things homo-Alaskan when you get there. 
       The next stop on the Northern Lights adventure is to Denali National Park, home of Mount Mckinley, the tallest mountain in North America at an elevation of 20,320 feet. Then it is on to Fairbanks and the famous Chena Hot Springs, a location so famous for the Northern Lights viewing that Japanese people fly specifically to Chena Hot Springs so they can conceive a child under the Aurora as it is considered good luck for the future child. I might not be conceiving a Japanese child there but I am sure it will be enjoyable nonetheless.
Copper Whale Inn
An Arctic flight exhibit at The Alaskan Museum of History and Art, 
which shows how planes opened up the Alaskan frontier in the last 100 years
An image of a traditional hairstyle of an unmarried Alaskan Hopi native girl, 
which heavily influenced Princess Lea's famous hairstyle in Star Wars
Anchorage skyline
Alaska's biggest gay bar, Mad Myrna's
Alaska's hottest gay bartender, Chris James at Mad Myrna's 
LGBT Community Center of Anchorage
Sea ice and mountains of Chugach National Park
Aerial view of Anchorage 

1 comment:

mehak desai said...

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