Aurora Borealis Comes in View – The Arctic Circle Travelers’ Journey to See the Northern Lights

group of residents with the northern lights glowing n the background

Five of our residents (Pamela Baker, Cora Bock, Lynn Brown, Shelby Clayson, and Elaine Stafford) shared a recent travel experience with their fellow residents by putting together a PowerPoint presentation featuring pictures and video footage of their journey to the Arctic Circle. The event was held in the Bristol View Bowditch Room and had a full house of FTJ residents!

The idea to travel north to see the Northern Lights came about over a game of Canasta. Cora Bock asked if anyone would want to take an Arctic Circle tour, and Lynn Brown had been the first volunteer. Shortly after, Pamela Baker and her sister-in-law jumped on board, although her sister-in-law changed her mind when she found out the temperature would be 50 below! When Shelby and Elaine joined the group, the Arctic Circle Travelers were formed!

On Saturday, March 16th, the Arctic Circle Travelers – minus the mastermind, Cora, who was unable to attend the presentation – recounted their adventures to an attentive audience about their trek from Fairbanks up the famous 400-mile gravel “Haul Road,” also known as Dalton Highway, until they reached Coldfoot, the nation’s northernmost truck stop.

The audience got to see and hear the Arctic Circle Travelers’ accounts as they embarked on this cold, but breathtaking journey. They stopped near the only bridge over the frozen Yukon River that partially routed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. They ventured through the Tundra, a treeless ecosystem thanks to frozen sediment like permafrost. And as the journey took them further and further north, they were fortunate enough to encounter various wildlife; from Caribou and Dall Sheep to the chunky grouse known as Ptarmigan.

After receiving a certificate for crossing the Arctic Circle, and taking a dog-sled ride, they reached the peak viewing point of the Auroral Oval on Valentine’s Day, and more importantly, Elaine’s birthday. What a birthday gift! The audience was shown picture and video footage of the Aurora Borealis, live and in-color. Because the naked human eye cannot identify multiple colors in an auroral display, in person, this magnificent nature-made light show may predominantly show one color, usually green, but in Pam’s case, it was gray.

When the presentation was finished, the Arctic Circle Travelers held a Q&A with their audience, and over some shared treats and pastries, proceeded to continue the level of camaraderie we have come to expect with the unyielding sense of community here at Franke Tobey Jones. Virginia Kenefick said, “I felt cold just watching the presentation, so I’m glad I got to see it somewhere warm.”

Five friends, who may not have met were it not for becoming neighbors at Franke Tobey Jones, embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Upon returning, they got to share it with many friends they have made since living at FTJ. In messages exchanged among them since the trip, Cora said, “Let’s go back! Let’s travel while we can still roll our suitcases!”  Which means we will hopefully be given another opportunity to learn about the new Alaskan adventures of the Arctic Circle Travelers. 

Franke Tobey Jones is more than just a retirement community with nice amenities and a beautiful view of Puget Sound. It is a true community built upon (and thriving through) the life-long friendships that are forged on this century old campus. Thank you to the Arctic Circle Travelers for sharing their journey with us!

Categories: General