On Saturday just before the Canucks blew a 3-0 lead and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Flames, dear, dear friends Jeff & Jenn and myself spent a little time together around Steveston and back at their gorgeous apartment to lock up perhaps one last session with me before I drag them up to Yellowknife. They're expecting virtually any day now, and if little baby Mah is anything at all like the two of them, the world is about to become an even more blessed place because of it.
Ask anyone who has ever experienced them; there's just something not quite real about being present underneath the world's most spectacular night light. Almost anyone you'll talk to, seeing the northern lights tops their bucket list. And those who have witnessed the magic of the aurora will tell you they can't wait to see them again, and again, and still again. Because they're never the same, and repeat performances are never dull.
There isn't anything that's been more true of my life, which is why I'm leaving everything behind in the 1 square kilometre I've spent the first 28 years of my life here in Vancouver to begin doing every night, what I love most; chasing the northern lights. And I'm asking for your support through a Kickstarter campaign to help get me there. There's a story behind everyone's passion, which is why I wanted to share mine here. Keep reading, and we'll talk lots about how this all began...
There's a saying out there that goes something to the tune of... "Dads are always right". And yes, dad, four years later, you were right - because I did have the northern lights in my own backyard. And while I didn't have fly to Tromsø, Norway to escape the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver just to see the aurora - I did, and it was those ten days I credit with the true beginning of discovering what I really wanted for my life. I made a lifelong connection with a man who appeared on the BBC, guiding aurora chasing tours, whose business started almost as a mistake - Kjetil Skogli. It was from that week and half forward that I knew, somehow, I had to end up doing what he was doing. Our passion was the exact same, he just had a few years on me, that's all.
Arriving back home blessed with Westjet flight benefits and just enough time to buy the warmest parka on the market, I literally pulled up Westjet's route map online, pointed at the furthest place north they flew, and listed myself on a flight to a little place called Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. Walking off the aircraft that flew me 2.5 hours north to a place that made my nose hairs freeze instantaneously upon arrival, there was something about this place I was already in love with.
And from there it began - some two dozen, always last minute to line up with the best solar activity and clearest skies (which didn't always workout), trips to Yellowknife over the subsequent three years led me with a knowing it was where I wanted to call home. I wanted to call Yellowknife home. I wanted to chase for the northern lights every single night, no matter the weather - the cold, the snow, the wind, and I wanted everyone in the world to come and experience the thrill of that too.
In May of 2013, after coming painfully close to purchasing a brand new home I had a hand in designing from virtually the ground up, Yellowknife was on hold and stayed on hold for the better part of a year and a half leading up to the fall of 2014 when I was presented with a flurry of events over a single week which basically led to an "are you in, or are you out?" on a new opportunity in the city I still adored from 2,400 kilometres south. I was in. I had to be. There wasn't anything that was going to keep me from something so perfect. From that opportunity with the wonderful folks at ModHome Developments, and support from my family that was truly overwhelming, the perfect home in Yellowknife's gorgeous old town had been secured with my name all over it.
It's from that two bedroom home, under a solar panelled roof, that I'll live out my dream of being host to the coziest, warmest, and most comfortable guesthouse imaginable. A chaise in front of a fireplace, Icelandic sheepskins, an absurd amount of throws & tealights, an excessive supply of tea and coffee always, all from a front door just seconds to the water's edge of Great Slave Lake & Back Bay. Then, every night from August to April, with special attention to the weather, we will head out into the wilderness surrounding Yellowknife to chase for, photograph, and just enjoy the magnificent show of the northern lights in a personal & intimate group of six or less.
While right now the furniture, decor, and candle shopping feels like a million miles away while I stare down this Everest sized mountain of paperwork before me that's just begging to be finished, the 26 hour drive to Yellowknife is realistically just a couple months away. While I'll be arriving in Yellowknife in late May/early June, the guesthouse & northern light tours will be set to get underway in the middle of August of this year, and there's nothing I'm looking forward to more!
There's no question I've got lots to keep me busy before I get up to Yellowknife, but there is one thing that would mean the world to me - to have you involved in my Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds that will be going directly toward your Yellowknife experience with me. My guest's experience is the most important thing to me in this venture, and a lot of that will be centred around having the right gear. With the money raised through Kickstarter, I'll be purchasing Canada Goose parkas, down pants, boots, mitts, and other accessories to have on hand for my guest's use during their stay in Yellowknife.
If you're able to financially support my campaign & project, my appreciation is deeper than I could probably ever express. Even through social media shares and likes, getting the word out has been such a valuable and fun process I'm looking forward to continuing! We're well on track to make this project a success at 25% of my goal raised already, but do still have a ways to go, and there are no donations too small, I promise you. Every dollar matters, and it's really a touching and humbling experience to see the support of this project flourish so fully. If you're able to pledge $10 or more, I've got some fantastic rewards lined up to help say thank you!
View the campaign HERE, and once again, thank you SO much for being apart of this incredible journey. More updates to come!