Wednesday, August 23, 2017

2 Minutes 10 Seconds

It was a very disappointing phone call from our friend Rayelle that gave us the good and bad news. The good news was that an unexpected surgery for her father-in-law had been successful. The bad news was that recovery was going to take longer than they first thought. Our good friends could not join us for our quest for the total eclipse of the sun.  
Our campsite at Fish Creek.
Our plans had developed a few months earlier when we were having dinner with Mike, Rayelle and Julia. They talked of this event, a total eclipse, that hasn’t happened in 26 years.  Linda and I were “in” as soon as they mentioned traveling south to try to get into the path of totality or what is called the "umbral cone".

Plans started forming. We would drive down together and find a campground where we could stay the night of the 20th of August and then the next morning get up and drive into the area of totality.
Breakfast of tater tot egg wheels.

Linda next to Fish Creek, I think.
Linda and I then took a trip to the coast and when we returned we drove through Oregon and visited some friends, Mark and Jerri Lisk, at their home in Adrian, Oregon. We were sitting around talking when Jerri asked us if we were going to view the total eclipse from somewhere. We said that we were planning to travel back down to chase the "umbral cone" and they suggested that we stay at their place. They would be gone during the event and we would have their entire driveway to ourselves. We accepted the offer and called the Andersons letting them know that we had a place that would play host to the eclipse-chasers.

That was our plan.  What turned out was quite a bit different. The Andersons had to stay home due to the extended hospital stay of Mike’s dad. Mark and Jerri had their trip canceled so they would be home when we arrived. By this point, Linda and I were so ready to get back on the road that we left a couple days early for the drive south.

The killer bunny that haunted our campsite.
Grangeville from the road leading down from the CG.
We left Post Falls at about 10:00 AM on the 17th of August. Linda had been looking over maps and we had decided that we should drive the beautiful yet winding highway 95 through Idaho.  A campground caught Linda’s eye. This spot was located just southeast of Grangeville. Grangeville was the halfway point of our trip, so this made the spot a really good choice.  On top of that, the campground was maintained by the Forest Service so with our “Geezer” pass we would only pay half price. Finally, the campground was named Fish Creek Campground so I could fish and we had visions of sitting by the cool clear water eating dinner and watching deer cooling off on the hot days of August. Yes, we are dreamers!

We arrived at the outskirts of Grangeville and Linda guided us around the town and up a steep grade into the National Forest. We passed the city-owned ski area of Snowhaven and turned into Fish Creek Campground. After a tour of the camp sites, we chose a very nice private one and set up our rig. Linda went and paid the $6.00 per night (Ya gotta love the Geezer Pass!) fee and we went for a tour of the area.

Mark celebrated our arrival with a small bonfire!
Map of Adrian and surrounding area.
The sun had set and the air was becoming cooler. We walked around the campground and followed a few trails. We found a very small creek, but it was too small for fish. Dusk had enveloped us so we returned to the camper and fixed dinner.  We sat outside and ate and then turned in early, reading until our eyes drooped shut.

Next day we explored more and found that the little creek we’d seen the day before was Fish Creek.  There would be no fishing; however, we did spook a small deer that was drinking from the trickling water.  We went for several hikes and explored the area. It was a nice quiet campground so we had a very relaxing two days at the halfway point of our adventure.

The chosen view at Snively.
Back on the road, we listened to “Following Atticus” a book on CD by Tom Ryan. Linda spent her time checking maps and drying tears as we drove and listened to a wonderful story about a man and his dog.  I truly think listening to books on CD is one of our favorite things about driving. Linda will stop the CD and we discuss what is happening or where the story might be going. It makes the day’s drive very enjoyable.  This book hit home in many ways. The author/dog owner told a story where both he and his dog made life changes so that each could live happier lives. I thought about our Kobi many times during the book and knew that we had made our dog much happier by providing him a stable life in secure surroundings.

Mark sets up his gear before the event.
Arriving in at the Lisks’ home on the Snake River, we set up and started the plans for viewing the total eclipse on August 21st.

Mark had some ideas so as we made barbecue ribs, we plotted our Sunday of scouting the best viewing spot. We talked about seeking totality and looked up what we thought the area around Adrian would darken down to, it looked like if we stayed around here we would get about 99.3% darkness. Traveling north to Weiser, Idaho would take us an hour. This would guarantee total eclipse but we really didn’t want to get involved with the traffic and trying to find a spot to settle down on. In the end, we chose to stay around where we were and Mark had a few ideas for good photography locations.

We had a great dinner of barbecue ribs. Jerri made her secret BBQ sauce that she acquired while on a spy mission.  Salad and quinoa topped the meal off. You couldn’t ask for a better meal.

The next morning we loaded into their truck and drove up the Owyhee River to the dam where we checked out the two campgrounds that were on the banks of Owyhee Lake.  On the way back, Mark pulled off the road at Snively Hot Spring. The area provided a great river view and if the sky was clear, a perfect area for viewing the eclipse.

Back at the place, Mark gathered his cameras, batteries and other photographic equipment. I did the same, but it only took me a minute and I was ready for the morning. We had another great dinner and went to bed ready for “E” Day!

The next morning we once again loaded into the truck. This time we had cameras, tripods, chairs, food and drinks and most importantly, six sets of special eclipse viewing glasses. We drove into Adrian and stopped to talk with the local welding crew at Martin Manufacturing.  Mark reminded them to wear their welding masks if they watched the eclipse and then just before he left he told them to take the day off.  The owner was standing right there and of course thought, Mark was pretty funny.

On to our site at Snively Hot Spring we drove. We laughed about all the photos we could take with different animals and people looking up at the sun with the special eclipse viewing glasses on. Dogs and cows were probably our favorite subjects, but nothing was off limits for this event.

We set up our chairs as Mark picked his spots and distributed his equipment.  He chose to capture the event with his digital camera connected to a special box that, from what I could gather, did everything needed for the post production of time-lapse video. He also set up his new GoPro Hero 5 and set it to capture a time-lapse of the event. Both cameras were set up on tripods and each was set to capture two total hours of the eclipse event.

When Mark finished his set up, I chose a rock, placed a sock carefully upon it, and then set my GoPro Hero 3 on it and leveled it to what my eye said was the right level.  At the precise time, I started the camera and then let it capture a photo every second for the next two hours. In all, I captured over 6400 photos that I later turned into a time lapse video of the eclipse.

With all three cameras set up and capturing photos, we settled in and started watching the event unfold.

Taken prior to totality.
As predicted by astronomers decades in advance, the moon shadow arrived with perfect accuracy and started making its way across the face of the sun. The event would last about 2 hours and 38 minutes total and we would be able to see about 1 minute and 23 seconds of 99.3% totality at precisely 11:25 am. (It is amazing what tools were on the internet that allowed us to gather these little facts.)

Taken during totality.
During the event, we watched through our special eclipse viewing glasses and followed the progress of the moon.  As the sun grew closer to the 99.3% totality, we were surrounded by an eerie darkness/duskiness and the temperature around us dropped significantly. Without a thermometer we figured it dropped more than ten degrees. It was so weird! 

Right before the total eclipse, little snake-like shadows appeared to slither across some white paper that Jerri had placed upon the ground. We danced in front of the paper and our shadows waved about. We poked holes in paper and watched the eclipse display half-moons of shadow.  Everything around us got quiet and Linda and Jerri said that they heard crickets chirping. It wasn’t completely dark, but dark enough. We stood there taking it all in, not really knowing what to say.
Notice the change in brightness?

The event ended as quietly as it had begun. We packed up the equipment and headed for the local watering hole, The Mirage. Mark entered the bar with his special eclipse viewing glasses on and got a good laugh from the bartender. We had a couple of drinks, ate some snacks and then wandered on across the river to home.

Hole shows the moon over the sun.
Mark and I started processing our time-lapse videos and Jerri and Linda fixed dinner. We were joined at dinner by a friend of the Lisks, Trudy. We talked and ate as the sun set over the ever-changing view of the Snake River before us.  Trudy left and we cleaned up and went to bed.

The next morning we said our good-byes, thanked the Lisks profusely and headed north. We drove 375 miles straight home with only a couple short stops along the way.  As we drove, we finished our book and talked about how great the whole eclipse experience was. Would we do it again? Absolutely! Setting our sights on April 8th, 2024.

Texting Linda's sister, the Andersons and Edwards.
Hard to work with these things on.
It took us a while to drive back home wearing these things!

Our hosts for the eclipse.

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