Total Solar Eclipse

On Monday August 21, 2017 a total eclipse of the sun occurred from coast to coast across the United States forming a 70 mile corridor of darkness across 14 states. The eclipse began as a partial eclipse at 9:06 AM (PDT) on the Oregon coast and ended as a partial eclipse at the South Carolina coast at 4:06 PM EDT.

I was fortunate to be able to camp with my RV in Oregon in the path of totality which was definitely something I will never forget.

Our Camp - Ready for the Show

Let’s take a look at the uniqueness of this event and the memories it created.

Rare event - The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was June 8, 1918 nearly one hundred years ago. Making this recent eclipse even rarer was the fact that its path of totality fell exclusively within the United States, making it the first such eclipse to do so since 1776 when the United States declared its independence. Prior to that, June 13th, 1257 was the last total eclipse that fell exclusively on lands currently part of the United States! Barring any major medical breakthroughs in longevity and the fact that a solar eclipse like we just experienced  won’t occur again until the year 2045, made the 2017 event a once in a lifetime event for a large percentage of the population of the United States.

Totality - viewing the umbra: Since the eclipse I read the following comment, “Seeing a total eclipse and a near-total eclipse was like the difference between death and near death.”  Fortunately I was able to travel and camp in the path of the eclipse totality and while indescribable in words, here is my best attempt. As we watched the moon slowly block out the sun we had no idea of what awaited us as the last sliver of the sun’s rays were blocked out. It literally went from a neat experience to an unbelievable experience.

Umbra

You could take off your eclipse glasses and look directly at the glow surrounding the dark orb that was the moon, you could look through binoculars and witness the flares jumping off the surface of the sun, the birds in the forest went silent and an eerie darkness fell around us unlike any sunset or sunrise I have ever experienced, even the stars began to shine in the sky. When the first ray of sunlight slipped by the moon as totality ended, it was like the house lights coming back on at the end of a movie in a theater.

Meeting fellow eclipse viewers: Another memorable part of the eclipse was meeting others who traveled to watch this once in a lifetime event. We met many unique individuals that were traveling to a combination techno musical / eclipse festival while stuck in a huge traffic jam together on a two lane forest road.

Stuck in the traffic (Weds before the eclipse) headed to the Techno Music Festival

As people exited their vehicles to wait out the traffic, the road became a big street party. Even though the traffic delays were unpleasant, they created memories and stories that I will tell for the rest of my days.

There were people that have traveled as far away as the Philippines and United Kingdom. As we spent days exploring from camp awaiting the eclipse we met two backpackers from Louisiana, a man that planned to mountain bike to the top of a mountain the morning of and others.

Traffic on Hwy 25 after the eclipse (notice we are going the other way!)

Witnessing the craziness: Some of the memorable things: A 30 mile traffic back up, huge campgrounds in hot dusty farmers fields, grocery stores overrun, more portable toilets scattered about than I knew existed and extra wells being drilled to support the influx of people just to name a few.

Cramped camp in the town of Mitchell

If you missed seeing the 2017 eclipse in totality, August 12, 2045 will be your next chance to view a total eclipse having a very similar path of totality over the U.S. It will occur approximately 250 miles southwest of the 2017 eclipse path while crossing between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Even better is that the duration of totality will last over twice as long. If I can beat the statistics and make it to 84 you can expect to find me camped once again in the path of totality making it a twice in a lifetime experience. I hope to see you there!

 

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