Friday, March 29, 2013

It doesn't feel like Easter...

A week after getting back from Sydney I found myself booking flights to Brisbane for this weekend. My dad's wife is dying, and I feel like I want to be there. For her, for me, for my step-sister. For my Dad.

This time last year, Dad had come to visit us. I remember, because one of the few things he'd eat was hot cross buns with real butter. I made myself some (yeast free) hot cross buns too. He was loving the warm weather, though for me it was still a bit too hot in the sun. So we sat outside eating our hot cross buns, he in the sunshine and me in the shade, for the whole Easter long weekend.

I can't even remember how long he stayed, but I know it was 24 hours longer than he intended, due to an emergency trip to the hospital when he was having chest pains.

The only photo I have from that visit is this one:

Friday kept wanting Dad to throw the squeaky toy for her, but his bones hurt too much. Not too much to prevent him from laughing at her repeated attempts to attract his attention though.

When I look at this photo it makes me smile. It also makes me incredibly sad. He was so determined to get over here and see our house. I don't think I realised how bad his condition was. And six weeks later he died.

Where Dad sits in this photo has since been turned into a veggie garden. Time passes and things change. But some things never leave you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oh Canada...

We recently spent two weeks in Canada. Aside from coming down with two separate gastro-style illnesses while there and wasting 3 of my 14 days being bedridden, it was still a fun trip.

We stayed with the delightful Newluks clan, where my cousin's 21-month-old daughter promptly fell in love with my husband, and he earned the new nickname of 'Tinton', as she called him. Also, I experienced what -30 degrees celsius feels like. The answer, for those who don't know, is 'face-meltingly cold.'

Here are some of the highlights of our trip, in words and pictures.

Adelaide, aged 21 months

These signs sort of speak for themselves, really. In Dawson City, 530km north of the capital city Whitehorse

Aurora borealis activity seen outside of Dawson

Faux stone edifice, actually made of wood. Dawson City (sorry, don't know how to rotate the image!)

What you wear when you go out aurora-watching at midnight in -26 degrees: from top to toe - 2 pairs socks, ugg boots, overboots. Thermal long-johns and ski pants. Two thermals, a possum-fur-and-silk cardigan, and a down jacket. A scarf and a facewarmer. Earwarmers, a beanie, and the hood of said down jacket. Thermal gloves and down mitts. Also, don't forget the chemical hand-warmers, which you see me holding there!    

Pretty sure this would look better if it was oriented properly, but I'm gonna include it anyway!

Winter wonderland!

Clinton trying snowshoeing, in a pair of snowshoes that he nicked from the local historical society (not really, but they ARE old school!)

View of Fish Lake. What you can't tell from this photo is how numb my toes were, and how freaking cold the wind above the tree-line was!

-30 degrees celsius! It's probably worth pointing out here that the day I left Perth it was 35 degrees.
And this is what -30 looks like if you go out in it!

Hoar frost on the Yukon River
Moose skull

It's a snowflake!

C and I under an aurora sky - absolutely magic!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Twenty years in the planning...

Aurora borealis - our first encounter above the frozen waters of the Yukon River in Dawson City. To the naked eye it looked like a white streak of cloud, but showed up with colours on a long exposure photo (around 25 seconds, hence the light bleed from the town's lights)

Ever since I first heard of the Northern Lights (probably as a kid watching the TV show Northern Exposure) I have wanted to see them. In January of the year 2000, a group of friends and I went to the Sydney Observatory for a night-time viewing to celebrate a friend's birthday. I mentioned to one of the astronomers that I wanted to see the aurora borealis, and he said that 2012 was going to be the year - that the activity goes in 12-year cycles, and that the next peak period was 2012.

Ever since then, I have had 'Northern Lights 2012' as a sort of mantra in my mind. When I ended up in Canada in 2011 for my cousin's wedding I thought it would be unlikely that I'd be able to make the trip again so soon. However, thanks to Air Canada providing me with no food on the London-Vancouver flight on that trip, my subsequent email of complaint, and their conciliatory offer of a 15% discount on any return fare, it was able to become a reality this (northern) spring, in time to catch the peak period of the cycle.

Our second encounter, outside Dawson City and away from the lights of town. A bit more colour visible to the naked eye, though still more impressive captured on a long exposure photograph (this one around 15 seconds)

I have just returned from 2 weeks in the Yukon, where I was able to see the northern lights on 3 occasions, the final one truly spectacular, and everything I could have dreamed of. It was freaking amazing!

I hardly know what to do with myself now that I have achieved this adult-lifelong goal!

The spectacular display we saw, this time outside of Whitehorse. The green was visible to the naked eye, and they rippled and danced in the most incredible way! Here I was shooting at around 5-8 second exposures.