I didn't think we saw them. Still, I took some long exposures, just in case. My feet were poorly prepared for the dropping temperature, so we packed up my gear and drove off.
Once I saw the images on my computer, I was surprised to see that the Northern Lights had shown up, even if only for a little bit. Sometimes a long exposure will show more than the naked eye.
Even though we don't always see things, it doesn't mean they aren't there.