On the drive to the haunted hostel we saw what looked like some brewing aurora activity in the sky. It was hard to tell with the naked eye in the car, but we could see a greenish glow in the clouds that didn't seem to be coming from any of the nearby cities (their light reflected orange pink into the sky). So as soon as we checked in we changed into our warmest clothing (it being slightly below freezing that night, before counting the wind chill factor, which was at a solid 45km/hour status) and headed out into the darkness to see what we hoped would be successful aurora sightings.
We were completely right.
About half an hour down the road we parked on a very wide and deep shoulder and hunkered down to see the activity. Everyone except me owned a very good DSLR or other time-lapse camera (American J even had a legit tripod) and caught photos of the elusive aurora:
These are from American J's camera: 30 seconds of exposure on a tripod that we had to hold down to keep it from falling over in the gusting winds. It was so windy we couldn't even hear each other, the joke becoming:
"Hey are you alright?" "Yeah...what?"
We were out for about two hours though Two and I ducked into the car after the first hour because the wind chill was so bad your hands started to freeze up in the cold. Much warmer inside the car, even with the engine and heating off.
We saw our first aurora.
In my mind I was a little disappointed because it was only faintly visible to the naked eye. I was the first to spot the strange green cloud as we were driving in, but it was almost like being cheated - if you stared at it long enough any of the clouds started to look green, or the pinkish tinge that was coming off of the nearby cities looked like it could be it, blending with the green.
I thought to myself that if this was it and I could count this as seeing the aurora, then my bucket list item was technically checked.
But I was greedy and wanted more.
Little did I know what was in store for me the next time we saw them...