Greetings from Fairbanks, Alaska! I’m here for a conference, but I am a naughty bad conference goer and skipped the morning session to go to Chena Hot Springs. 60 miles and no moose sightings later (sad – but we did see a ptarmigan and an eagle), we were freezing in the 20-degree-with-insane-wind Alaska fall. But there was a giant sulfurous hot pool with 105 degree water, a view of snowy mountains, and a soundtrack of sled dogs howling. It was GLORIOUS.
An Alaska woman in the locker room told me that the resort is packed all winter – not by skiiers or dog mushers, but by amorous Japanese tourists. She told me that the Japanese believe that conceiving under the aurora borealis means that the baby will be smart and male. Apparently, this seems to be a belief caused by nothing other than an episode of Northern Exposure. Even more awesomely, the idea has come full circle – now some Japanese believe it.
No northern lights for me, though – even though I’m really, really not in the baby market, I’m a little bummed. The lights are caused by sunspot activity, which is at a low ebb in its 11-year cycle right now. The sunspots energize ions, which glow when they hit the atmosphere. But no sunspots, so few ions. Ah well – I did get to eat reindeer sausage before dancing the traditional Inuit snowy owl dance, which involves yelling “hoot hoot tweet tweet hisssssssssss!”