We stopped at this tourist town after dark and there was no open restaurant to be found. Apparently if you come to Iceland before tourist season starts, you should bring ramen or prepare to starve for a night. Thankfully we found a gas station with some hot dogs, which had been our main source of sustenance anyway.
The lodge we stayed at was gorgeous, with an outdoors hot tub that overlooks the lake. It was cold, and we dared Ning to jump into the freezing lake for $100. He did and it was worth the money.
While we were chilling in the hot tub, Scott was taking photos of the full moon overlooking the lake and distant mountains. Then at one point, he asked with some hesitation — “is this the aurora I see in my picture?” What we couldn’t see with our eyes was captured by the long exposure, and it didn’t take long for the group to make a decision. We jumped out of the pool, put on all our layers, and just drove. Despite the smallness of the town, the light pollution was still keeping us from the one thing that has eluded us so far this trip. We drove for about half an hour, without too much care for directions, and found ourselves atop a small hill outside of town. There was an empty parking lot, and when we looked up, there it was! The aurora.
I confess that I didn’t even think about taking photos of the aurora when I packed. I had no tripod, no remote, and only carried two lenses with low aperture. So when everyone was busy setting up their tripods to capture this beautiful scene, I had a rare chance to just enjoy the moment without thinking about the right angle and shutter speed. The aurora was not as bright as the photos or videos show, our eyes are just too insensitive. But oh how the light danced! Changing colors and positions, floating from one part of the sky to the other. I worried that the clouds might cover it up, but instead they danced together, with the stars and mountains as their faithful audience, and of course, us.
At the end of the night I still took a few photos. They are terrible photos, but I needed something to remind me of the night. The dance. The light.