My mom Alex Botello and I take a photo on the way to Denali National Park on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (Photo provided)

Chasing the lights

My mom loves looking up at the night sky.

When we were kids, she’d wake my sister and me up and make us watch a full moon or a lightning storm from the deck of our rural Idaho house. She’s always marveled in the sanctity and allure of a clear night sky. For her, I think peering outside into the serenity of night reminds her of what actually matters in life.

My mom has always had an affinity for all things beautiful in the natural world — from working on national forests in the Lower 48, to being a raft guide and curating brilliant gardens at every house we moved to. She’s the type that doesn’t experience fear in the vastness of the wilderness, but rather a childlike sense of wonder at what lies beyond.

She became particularly fascinated by the aurora borealis after watching the popular ‘90s comedy drama “Northern Exposure” when she was in her 20s. The show chronicles Dr. Joel Fleischman and his move to small town Alaska after graduating from medical school, according to the Internet Movie Database.

He ends up in Cicely, Alaska — a fictional community that was inspired by towns like Skagway, Seward and Talkeetna, a 1992 article from the South Florida Sun Sentinel stated.

My mom, like a lot of nonlocal folks interested in Alaska, has been burning to see the northern lights in person for decades, especially since that show aired. So when I moved over a year and a half ago, we started planning a trip to make that dream a reality.

Last week she, along with two of my aunts, finally made it up here to try to chase the lights.

The trip started out a little rocky — with an eight-hour flight delay and a lost bag — but we arrived safely in Talkeetna close to 1 a.m. last Friday morning. The weather up north was clear during the day, clear enough to see Denali’s peak even, and the night sky showed us brilliant stars.

We didn’t see aurora, even after driving for hours hoping for a flash of green across the sky. But we did see a lot, which was special because we got to see it together.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

Melissa Botello, Alex Botello and Kim Davis take a photo outside of Nagley's Store in Talkeetna on Friday Feb. 25, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

More in Sports

Mat-Su Miners catcher Blake Balsz forces out Cole Wilson of the Peninsula Oilers on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Thursday: Oilers take 3rd straight against Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 2-0 on Thursday in Alaska… Continue reading

Learn to identify the invasive green crab. (Photo provided by NOAA)
Refuge Notebook: Invasive green crab rapid response plan: Just what the doctor ordered

As Alaskans, we all love our coastline. It’s where treasures are found,… Continue reading

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Lydia Jacoby, after surprise Tokyo Olympic gold, misses out on Paris: ‘It hasn’t quite hit me yet’

Veteran swimmers often describe U.S. Olympic trials as the hardest swim meet in the world

Lars Arneson runs to victory and a new event record in the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Arneson, McCabe win at Bird Ridge

Lars Arneson, a 2009 graduate of Cook Inlet Academy, won the Robert… Continue reading

tease
Wednesday: Oilers take 2nd in a row from Miners

The Peninsula Oilers defeated the Mat-Su Miners 4-3 on Wednesday in Alaska… Continue reading

tease
Wednesday: Eagle River sweeps doubleheader from Twins

Host Eagle River swept a doubleheader from the American Legion Post 20… Continue reading

Nick Varney
Reeling ‘Em In: Hey fishers, keep up with regulations

What is up with brain stems who seem to be incapable of comprehending simple fishing regulations?

Peninsula Oilers catcher Brock Wirthgen congratulates pitcher Mose Hayes after a victory over the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tuesday: Oilers topple Miners in home opener in dramatic fashion

Homer’s Hayes starts 4th year with club by winning sudden-death game

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Jacoby scratches from 200 breaststroke

Lydia Jacoby, a 2022 graduate of Seward High School, announced on Instagram… Continue reading

Most Read