• Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

The meaning of traveling with children: A trip to the Aurora Borealis in Alaska, children have magical changes

The mother took her 10-year-old child to watch the aurora, hoping that he would always retain his childlike innocence. Unexpectedly, he would have to open the window in winter. In February 2016, I took my 10-year-old son to Fairbanks (the second largest city in Alaska, USA) to see the Aurora. This is a trip that we have been thinking about for a long time and I hope to leave an unforgettable memory in his childhood. When we arrived in Fairbanks, the sun had already set. In this city where the sun sets at six o\’clock, it was not as dark as expected, and the temperature was not as cold as expected, about minus 20 degrees. As we all know, viewing the aurora requires suitable weather, as clouds and moonlight will obscure the aurora. Before setting off, I checked the weather forecast, which showed that the local temperature has been minus 40 degrees Celsius and cloudy in the past few days. This made me wonder whether I would miss the Northern Lights if I took my son there. Therefore, before setting off, I made it clear to my son that the Northern Lights is not like a movie. You can watch it if you want. It requires good enough weather and luck to see it. The son said he understood, and in this case, let\’s get on the road. We set off from the New York Airport at five in the morning. My son was very excited at first, but after a long 12-hour flight, his mood was no longer high. When I was dragging my luggage to transfer to Alaska, I could see my son was about to cry. \”Why can\’t we check in our luggage like everyone else?\” the son asked sadly. I explained to him that I didn\’t want to take the risk if the airport lost our luggage. It’s not funny at all. If you don’t have warm clothes and socks, gloves, borrowed ski equipment and military boots bought online that can withstand the freezing cold of minus 40 degrees, there is no way to go out. The son nodded without complaining and continued moving forward with his luggage. When we arrived at the hotel, it was already eight o\’clock in the evening and we were exhausted. At this time, the night sky in Alaska looks like the midnight sky. My son and I lay in bed and set an alarm to remind us that in two hours, a bus would take us to see the Northern Lights. I still remember that in the summer of 2015, my husband and I took our two sons and a family of four to Alaska for vacation. Others didn\’t feel much, but my youngest son and I were deeply attracted by the beautiful scenery and wild animals here. We were fascinated by this land and even read every book we could find about Alaska. So when our youngest son went on winter vacation, we jumped into this dream trip without hesitation. I admit, I have no idea whether the Northern Lights will appear. But it was nice to spend a week with my son. Because I have an older son who is already in high school, I already know that time speeds up once children turn 10. When guests at my oldest son’s bar mitzvah said, “From today on you are an adult,” they weren’t kidding. Today\’s children are more precocious. 10-year-old children are like teenagers in the past; teenagers are like college students. I don’t want my children to become precocious. I want them to be able to play with water guns instead of having iPads and iPhones in their hands. But somehow, life in New York urges people to keep moving forward. The busy streets of New York and maybe a trip to AlaskaThere is a kind of magic that makes him still have a childlike innocence even after he becomes an adult. Just as I was deep in thought, the alarm clock rang. We put on thick clothes and got on the bus. It\’s even colder outside now, I feel like I\’m freezing, and I\’m also very tired. We are all a little confused: Where are we now? Is it February in Fairbanks? Want to see the Northern Lights? Can\’t we just go skiing like everyone else? Or a vacation somewhere warm? Or we go back to the hotel, have a cup of hot cocoa, and wait for the clouds to clear. At this time, the hands have pointed to 11 o\’clock in the evening, and my biological clock tells me that it is almost three o\’clock in the morning. I told the guide to wake us up when the Northern Lights appear. I was too tired to think about anything, so I snuggled up with my youngest son and took a nap. I\’m not sure how long I slept until I heard someone shouting: \”Aurora! Aurora!\” I woke up immediately and rushed outside. There were many tourists gathered around, mostly Japanese, who were very excited to see the aurora. But what I saw were mountains covered with snow and green trees. Could it be that my eyes were wrong? There doesn\’t seem to be any Northern Lights. \”Where are they?\” I asked. But in a blink of an eye, we can see it: the white vortex is dancing, rotating, fading, and then reappearing this psychedelic dream again. Looking at these, we forget that this is the cold northern country. I feel so lucky at this moment! I saw the aurora on the first day I came to Alaska, and I was very lucky to see these wonderful sights with my son at the end of his childhood. I believe it will remain deep in his memory forever. A few hours passed, and when we could no longer see the aurora, we dragged our tired bodies back, full of excitement. The next day we went to a wilderness cabin where we saw the Aurora again. Moreover, it was the first time I rode a sled pulled by an Alaskan Malamute, the first time I rode a snowmobile across the snowfield, the first time I took an outdoor bath at minus 40 degrees… When I returned to Fairbanks, it was already… On the last day of the trip, we visited the Arctic Museum, where there were many specimens of bears and wolves. Our youngest son dressed in Eskimo clothes and took hundreds of photos. He was so happy. It\’s time to go home. A year later, we still dream about the aurora in Alaska. At school, my youngest son recommended Jack London\’s \”The Call of the Wild\” and \”White Teeth\” to his classmates, even though the teacher said it was too difficult for fifth-grade children (mom\’s note: a classic about Alaska). So every winter, the younger son would open the window, hold a sled dog doll, and look into the distance, sometimes even forgetting the cold outside. It was crazy to leave the window open like this, so I had to sneak into my youngest son\’s room after he fell asleep and close the window for him. But I understand him. Like him, I felt that the trip to Alaska was so dreamy, like a winter fairy tale in a distant land, with crazy alarm clocks and lights in the sky. Only on a cold winter night, like my little son, opening the window and feeling the real cold, will I realize that the trip was not a dream. PS: Every time I travel with my children, the sour taste always makes me question the point of doing so.. He is really still young, and he cannot remember the various scenery he saw and the various characters he met during his travels. But once, I took him to the Olympic Sports Park. When he was running on the lawn, he told me: \”Mom, I ran like this on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia last time.\” I immediately reaffirmed my determination to take him on the trip with me. Determination, he actually remembered, he remembered that feeling vividly. This is enough. Travel has opened a window to a new world for him, and influences and changes will occur quietly. Just like the little boy\’s trip to Alaska\’s Aurora Borealis in the article, he began to open the window in winter and stare into the distance, allowing him to read \”The Call of the Wild\” and \”White Teeth\”. Travel is a poem for children. What we want to tell our children is all in books and on the road. What we read in books is other people’s experiences and what we experience on the road is our own life.

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