No flimflam about Flin Flon

A little over a month ago, on March 30, the aurora borealis did her electromagnetic shuffle in the skies of Northern Nevada. For those of us who saw it, it was quite the show, featuring some real purty colors and stuff.

Of course, most locals missed out on this purtiness. When 11 bells ring on your typical Friday night, you’re usually inside and (a) getting horizontal, (b) thinking about getting horizontal, or (c) watching tapes of people engaged in incredible horizontalism, or (d) sleeping.

Bottom line: You’ve never seen these shimmering breath-takers, and you’d like to. What can you do?

One, you can wait for them to get this far south again. It doesn’t happen too often. According to an aurorally bent correspondent, the last time the borealis showed up here in Nevada was 1988. Two, you could get off your firm, chiseled ass and go find them. And when you stop to think about it, why not take some vacation time to track down The Lights? The pursuit of Princess Aurora is just as good a vay-kay plan as riding jet skis, riding golf carts, riding roller coasters, riding hookers in Bangkok or gawking at a big phony volcano in Vegas.

Interested? With the help of sel.noaa.gov/pmap/pmapN.html, you can find some of the places where auroral displays are stupendous hundreds of nights a year. One problem. They’re all up north. Way north. Which means you can’t go in the summer, when it would be sane, because the damn sun is up for 20 hours a day, and it simply doesn’t get very dark. So you gotta go in the late fall, winter or early spring to tundric outbacks, where the cars and trucks get tucked in at night before the kids do.

Still interested? Two places are reasonably accessible and loaded with The Lights. Alaska and Manitoba, Canada. Are you up for February in Fairbanks? Sorta chilly up there. Like your pee freezes before it hits the ground chilly. Major league chilly. Killer auroras, though. Fairbanks in fall might be less demanding and worth a shot. If you’re really dedicated, one word: Barrow. Bring some beer money.

A somewhat milder alternative is afforded by a few towns about 500 miles north of the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. One is called Flin Flon; the other is The Pas. I am not making these up. Both are real towns of about 6,000 people with rooms and cars and food, which means your chances of actually surviving this excursion are very good. Both towns are very close to true magnetic north, where the aurora consistently is strongest, and that’s why they are both good bets for big purty color action. Actually, auroral experts say the town of Thompson, Manitoba is the best spot, but Thompson is where Ford sends trucks to see how cold it has to get before they crack in half. Sounds a little drastic.

So, who’s up for flying into Flin Flon?