Living Under Auroras


By Veronica Chavez

Photos courtesy of Aurora Addicts.

If you live in a big, busy city, viewing a sky with more than a few faint stars may be difficult. With so much light pollution, city-dwellers often forget that around the world, when day reaches night and the air is crisp and clear, marvelous spectacles fill the sky.

One of those notable spectacles is the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, a bright, entrancing display of color that occurs when charged particles from the sun’s solar wind interact with Earth’s magnetic field.

For many, seeing this dazzling phenomenon is but a number on a bucket list of attractions to witness before dying. When embarking on their first journey to see the Northern Lights, Chris and Becki Nation also thought that once would be enough when it came to viewing the colorful show. Little did they know that their first expedition would ignite a love for auroras so deep that they would spend the following four years chasing them, their four children in tow.

“We thought if we saw them [once] that we wouldn’t need to see them again,” Becki explains to BTR. “We thought we could tick the box, and then swim with great white sharks, and go to Machu Picchu, or wherever, but then the addiction [to the Northern Lights] took hold.”

Since their first expedition to Iceland, the Nation family has traveled to a number of places including Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway–all for the chance to sit underneath an illuminated aurora. They do all of their traveling within CLONA, their 7-meter motor home equipped with a diesel heater and thermal insulation to endure the freezing temperatures encountered along their expeditions.

The Nations’ portable home also contains full-sized beds, a kitchen, a toilet, a shower, sledges, toys, and learning resources for home-schooling their children while out on the road.

Of course, even with all the conventional resources riding along with them, the Nation family is somewhat out of the ordinary. For one, their limited space requires them to lead a moderately minimalistic lifestyle. Each item in their motor home is accounted for, many of which have a dual or triple use.

“The kids’ toys fit in a container about the size of a shoe box,” Chris reveals. “Sometimes they take cooking tools into the bath for entertainment. Obviously not the bread knife–but a whisk or a strainer, definitely.”

With so much to do outside–like bathing in volcanic hot tubs, herding reindeer, fishing, and of course the usual sledding and snow play–the couple assures that their children find plenty of activities to occupy their time with. Snapchat, Facebook, and games on their iPads suffice on the cold nights when they have to stay inside.

Chris, who is a web designer, and Becki, a music teacher, are luckily able to work their jobs while out on the hunt. Becki teaches her classes over Skype and Chris obtains jobs online.

In addition to their professional practices, Chris and Becki run their blog, Aurora Addicts, as well as attend to their 10,000 Facebook followers who look to the couple for information and tips. The blog visitors that are not yet looking to start chasing auroras are most likely checking in to view the couple’s awe-inspiring photographs–stunning images the Nations were able to sell online to Fine Art America, as well as transfer onto calendars and Christmas cards.

Even after four years, the couple has no intentions of slowing down. They currently are renting a house in Norway where they witness beautiful auroras almost every night. And when they’re not sitting around the fire looking up, they are ironing out the details for their future plans to start an aurora touring company.

“Many people think, ‘oh I can’t go do something like [aurora chasing] until my kids are grown,’ but that’s just not true,” Becki declares passionately. “We want to create a tour that allows and encourages people to go adventure with their family.”

As the Nations have grown closer by journeying to remote landscapes, they reason that their found passion for the Northern Lights can just as well do wonders for other adventurous kin.