Since moving to Minnesota, I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. And, one would think that living in Minnesota, I would have ample opportunity to see them. Not so. For whatever reason, fate always seems to throw a curve my way, so I have never seen them.

A few years ago, the northern lights were at an all time high and people in the south could see them. Where was I? I was in Missouri visiting my friends in Fulton, Missouri. I didn’t see them because I was on the south side of the city, so the city lights were between me and the northern lights. 

This time, obstacles between me and the northern lights included, but were not limited to:

  •  I didn’t know they were active (so I’ve since downloaded TWO apps to keep me up to date on their activity and push notifications to me when they are active)
  • Clouds (there’s really nothing I can do about this)
  • Location (I’m not anywhere near my beloved northern location and am somewhere south when they appear or I knew they would be out, but didn’t want to drive out of the city to find a location where the city lights didn’t interfere – lazy on my part)
  • I sleep through the night and don’t wake up because I didn’t set an alarm to get me up in the middle of the night to see them 

So when I began planning a trip to Gunflint Lodge in northern Minnesota this past November, I thought for certain this would be my chance to finally see the northern lights. For those of you who are not familiar with Gunflint Lodge or even the Gunflint Trail, the trail passes through the northeastern corner of Minnesota near the Canadian boarder. The lodge is located near the very end of the Gunflint Trail along the border of Minnesota and Canada. I planned this trip to be during a New Moon, when the moon would not be out and the sky would be dark.

After sunset, I waited to see if the northern lights would appear. But they never showed, and according to the app on my phone, it told me the lights were going to be “quiet.” In other words, I wasn’t going to see them this trip. 

Even though I couldn’t see the lights, I had the perfect opportunity to try my hand at taking photographs at night. As you all know, winter in Minnesota is Very Cold, so being outside with a camera trying to take photographs is not fun. At Gunflint Lodge, cabin #11 faces north and has windows along the entire north side of the cabin. Turn off the lights and I now was able to take photographs in the warmth of the cabin. I found the perfect spot to practice my night photography.

And, while I tested my camera equipment at taking night photographs, I checked the other app on my phone called “Meteor Wheel.” And according to this app, it was time for the Leonids meteor shower! Although I didn’t capture any spectacular northern lights photographs, watching the Leonids meteor shower was amazing. 

In the meantime, I keep checking my northern lights apps.