Eclipse Trip – Eclipse Day

Well, today’s the day.  Monday, August 21, 2017. 6:00 am.

I couldn’t sleep well during the night.  Felt like I woke up every hour.  A combination of nerves and excitement.  Decided to get going at 6am Boise time so that we had enough time to pack up, eat breakfast the hotel and be on the road with plenty of time to spare incase there was traffic issues.  The hotel clerk said it was a busy morning with people starting to check out as early as 3am.

We took the I-84 west towards Lime, OR.  The traffic I was anticipating did not materialize.  The interstate was completely clear up to our turnoff.  Adrian slept in the back for a little bit.

At the turnoff, traffic slowed down a little bit.  This was the orange and red indicators on Google Maps.  But, traffic moved as cars found their destinations either in the small town of Huntington or further up the road, pulled off to the side.  We stopped near Lime, pulled off to the side of the road near the turnoff that would take you up to the Lime abandon factory.  We got there with over an hour until first contact.  Got there before the Sun had risen above the nearby hill. But we got there. So we just rested until it was time and the crowds continued to arrive.

Lime OR
Lime, OR representing SBVAA

Adrian and I setup our chairs on the hill above the truck.  First contact arrived at 9:10 am, PDT (now in Oregon, we were back on Pacific time).  We watched the moon make its march across the sun using the eclipse glasses and eclipse binoculars.  I also used a pinhole projection.  The day was warm and a breeze started to pick up during the eclipse.  When the moon covered about 50% of the sun, the temperature started to drop but the daylight did not seem any less intense.  By 75% coverage, the wind had slowed or stopped and the daylight started to show signs that it was not as bright.

I’d never been in an eclipse greater than 80%.  The last near total was back in 1991 I think and we had close to 80% then.  The closer it came to 90%, the darker the daylight became.  Someone was playing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album. People to the left and right of us were excited.  Adrian was excited; so was I.  I keep the solar binoculars so that I could watch the last bits of the sun.

People yelled and were excited as day turned into night.  I removed the binoculars to find the a black hole was covering the sun and the sun’s corona extending like a halo about the black circle.  It was not uniform.  I remember the upper right extending more than elsewhere.  It seems bigger in the sky with our eyes than a cell phone camera can capture.  The hills, cars and freeway behind us turned to night.  They were still truck and cars traveling on the freeway during totality (still cannot believe that).  We could see some planets near the sun: Venus and Mercury.  Tried to take some photos with my cell phone but the cell phone could not resolve the moon’s darkness in front of the corona.  Posted are my cell phone pictures and an image I found on the Internet that best reproduces what I saw with my eyes.

In 2 minutes and 10 seconds, it was all over. This time I was watching the eclipse unaided and filming on my camera.  The moment of totality’s end was equally exciting as the beginning seeing the “diamond” as the first gleams of sunlight break through.  The darkness, turned to subdued lighting like a big LED was shining from above. Then the sun’s normal intensity started to take over.  As the sun came back out, the temperature started to rise and the wind picked back up.  Adrian went to the truck soon after.  Other cars took off as soon as as totality ended.  The reverse was the same as the beginning.  I  stay on hill to watch the eclipse’s end up until about 15%.  I watched in the binoculars as the moon slowly revealed a group of three sunspots near the sun’s center.  After that happened, I packed up to start the trip home about 11:15am.  We still have a long day of driving ahead.

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