Today started slowly. We awoke with believe it or not, no morning plans and no alarm. This was a little out of the ordinary for us but actually quite pleasurable given that we had had a northern light tour the night before and therefore didn’t get to bed until very early (or very late) depending on how you see it.
With the morning free it was a chance to look through the photos, rest up a little for what will be a long 48 hours and also get a bit of washing done. Our host, Andreas, once again proved to be extremely helpful in supplying us with access to a washing machine and dryer for our clothes. Tromso is the last chance for us to do this before we hit South America where we will be staying at hotels.
By this stage too, we had missed out on a number of meals, whale watching at lunchtime and northern light chasing at night. Although we had been like the seals of Scandinavia and fattened ourselves up for the winter, we were now starting to get into reserves, especially the biggest seal of us all who was now ready to start eating his own kind he was that hungry.
Therefore the priority became going to the supermarket and getting supplies for the next couple of days. At the supermarket, Philip became very excited when he spotted what looked like chicken and chips (ah Norwegian KFC!) so $50 later for a few pieces of chicken and chips, one contented little “seal” was once again ready to brave the Norwegian winter.
The supermarket didn’t prove to be a cheap exercise but compared to restaurant or take away food it was a whole lot cheaper than it could have been. It is also not around the corner – the nearest store being 18km away on black ice roads so a round trip of one and a half hours just in driving time.
Armed with groceries, newly washed clothes and even clean hair following a very nice shower without time issues (yeah I know it’s funny how the little things become important) we then headed off back to Tromso for our Northern lights “chase” (as Andreas) calls it with Marcus from Artic fishing. Unfortunately as we were driving in we knew that the night was going to be difficult. There wasn’t a star in the sky and the cloud cover seemed quite thick. Marcus agreed with us and said that we would be heading south in an effort to try and get the cloud cover to lift before the night was through. About two and a half hours later we stopped at a little pull in spot on a ridge. Here Marcus said that we would have some dinner. His driver made a fire on the snow and then they heated up soup. Gotta say fish soup is not nice! Cod salted and dried and then rehydrated later to create a vegetable and fish kind of stew. It’s thick and really strong in taste. Not our cup of tea but others seemed to enjoy it. It was quite pleasant though sitting near the fire; crisp white snow around us, nestled in amongst the trees to be away from the wind.
As we were hanging out in the Arctic, the sky cleared a little and there were faint creations in the sky that we now know to be Northern lights rather than just clouds.
We took a few photos mostly looking at composition as the colour was not as intense as the last couple of nights and the cloud cover when photographed created an orange contrast against the green of the lights and the black of the trees in the fore ground.
Our group was once again an interesting mix; couples, families, oh and a mother with a two year old child that needed to be wheeled around in a stroller (not sure if this is the most suitable event for a child of this age particularly in this temperature). The only thing we were missing was a dog! The other thing that was different from last night was that everyone had their own reasons for being there. Some came to photograph the lights whilst others were just hoping for a light show that they could tick off then get back in the van. It’s also interesting in that everyone has their own ideas as to what they will see – having now seen it for a couple of nights, we understand that each time is different and that it takes a sensational night like the first night to truly see all the colours. On ok nights the camera picks up the colours more than the eyes do and therefore taking photos of them is the best way to see the true beauty of the lights. That is if you have a camera that is capable of taking the lights, know how to use it and then want to go to the trouble of setting it up. Not so for some people who just want to see the video they have seen at home, illuminated on the big screen; that being the night sky.
Just before we left, as most people had given up and where either in the van or near the van, Philip got desperate for the toilet. Now in the Arctic there aren’t a lot of toilets around. So Philip made a strategic decision. He would move the camera and tripod a little way away from the van in an effort to get that elusive shot. Good thinking Phil. Now I’m not sure how many legs your tripod has but ours turned into a four legged tripod.
After testing the location, he then came back and said “nup not any good over there” and continued on with his clicking in the original location. Only in the Arctic when it’s that black you can’t see anything let alone a four legged tripod!
At around 11:30pm we packed up and made our way back to Tromso, a trip of over two hours. Can’t really tell you that much about it as the three of us tried to use this time to get some sleep given that we needed to be up at 7am tomorrow for the next round of activities.
Finally we returned back to lauklines at around 3am with treacherous road conditions. Following the road becoming full of black ice is not nice especially when you’re tired. Three hours rest and then off we go again. Ah yes… Elliot tours; never dull!