Solar Eclipse 2017

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During the golden hour, minutes after sunrise, with a bottle of champagne in our bag, Mr. Arnold and I hiked our way through Jefferson County’s government grazing land on soft dirt speckled with dry grass and tiny celadon colored bushes. We found a private spot high on a hill showcasing a massive panoramic view with Mount Jefferson at our backs. “I will have one celebratory drink when the stars shine during the day,” said Mr. Arnold. We had no idea of what to expect. Two months prior Mr. Arnold mentioned something about a solar eclipse and wanting to go and watch it. Being a travel blogger, I usually research for months and book accommodations far in advance. I suggested we do the same right away, but Mr. Arnold was unsure. He did nothing. As time marched forward towards the Eclipse he kept talking about it. An attempt was made to find accommodations.  The Travelodge Hotel wanted seven hundred dollars for one night!  The gargantuan price tags of all the hotel rooms under the path of totality turned us off to the idea of going. About thirty-six hours before the eclipse we found and booked a four hundred dollar hotel room at the Days Inn Hotel in Bend Oregon, one hour outside of the path of totality. The excitement started to build inside of us. So much excitement that we could no longer bother with patience. We decided to stay an extra day to get near the Path of Totality as soon as possible. We called a few hotels and noticed that the staff couldn’t help us because they were busy checking guests in.  Online we booked another night at the Days Inn Hotel. We immediately packed our car and started our seven-hour road trip to Bend Oregon. Not knowing what to expect, we were prepared for any possibility. We had blankets, food, water, wipes plenty of cash and kept our gas tank full.  Our drive start time was six PM. It was a mirror smooth traffic free drive but the signs of something enormous were present. All along the highway large black electronic signs with orange words warned highway motorists of heavy traffic. Hotels along the highway had full parking lots overflowing with cars.  Pleasantly surprised by our smooth drive we pulled into the parking lot of the Bend Oregon Days Inn Hotel at one AM.  Long after sunrise the next morning we woke up excited, and read the Eclipse Survival Guide by Source Weekly. It caused a little anxiety and added to all the hype. When I read that Bend Oil company was bringing in tankers of gas to be put on stand by to keep emergency and civilian vehicles supplied, I started to feel really uneasy and nervous. Mr. Arnold immediately drove to the gas station and insisted we keep our gas tank full at all times. Truly understanding the enormity of this astronomical event we didn’t want to make any mistakes or miss it.  He and I did a practice run from Bend Oregon to Madras Oregon. We surveyed the area and found a perfect spot. With a few hours left until sunset, we hit the crown jewel of the path of totality in Madras Oregon. Two Minutes and four seconds of totality were less than hours away. Tiny Madras was lively and bursting at the seams with excitement and humanity just waiting. The town with a population of six thousand seven hundred twenty-nine was one giant party that one hundred thousand extra guests showed up to. We met people who came from England, Canada, and many other places. We wanted so bad to party the night away with all the awesome people we met. The temptation was not enough. Mr. Arnold and I went to our hotel room to rest for the colossal upcoming event. The alarm sounded at three AM. We checked the flow of traffic with the app WAYZ. It showed a smooth drive towards Madras. I felt panic and like we needed to rush when I saw all the cars leaving the hotel parking lot. There really was no need. Our drive toward the path of totality was easy. We parked the car in a vast open field across a country road from a lush green farm and we waited and waited… and waited. The sun entertained us for a bit. The sun rose and put on a dramatic display of light and color. The sky was glowing pink, orange, indigo and shades of violet. As time drew near we set up our day camp on the soft dirt. Mr. Arnold hiked back down the hill to get the sunscreen we accidentally left in the car. A man shouted to him “IT’S STARTING!” Mr.Arnold ran up the hill and said “Put your glasses on. This is it!”  High on a hill, under a vast sky, he and I rested our backs on the earth, put on our solar glasses and just stared at the sun. After all the hype and build up, that caused so much nervous anxiety, lying down outdoors in nature, looking through the solar glasses was such a relief and calming experience. I thought to myself, this is it? It looks like Pac Man. But then I started to experience physiological sensations as did other life forms on earth. What happened next was beyond any expectation I could have ever imagined. The eclipse started to transcend me into a sensual experience appealing to all five of my senses. There were moments when I felt the sun burning my flesh. As the moon came close to ushering in totality, the temperature dropped and the cooling sensation relieved my flesh from the burning sun. My Ears were entertained by the bugs that started humming like they usually do at dusk. Except it was ten sixteen AM, a minute before totality. An immense thrilling build up of excitement shattered my state of calmness. Words cannot justify the magic of the moon trying to steal the show from the sun. The moon and sun were dancing a Grand Pas de deux.  It was competitive, like who could show off more the moon or the sun? As the moon covered the sun Baily’s beads appeared and radiantly sparkled. I swear it was like the sun winked at every life form on earth and said:”Watch this!”. Just when the moon thought it show-stopping the sun, the sun put on a glorious display like sunrise and sunset in fast forward. At ten seventeen AM at coordinates 44.6673N, 121.1786W, darkness fell upon the earth. A rushing flood of unexpected emotions came over me and reduced me to tears. Even though Mr.Arnold and I had a private spot. We could hear humanity cheering and expressing immense joy.  The different lighting effects that were given off by the by the moon and the sun showcased the landscape in a rainbow of colors ranging from harsh to soft. Nature gave such a full show. I was on overload and attempting to look at everything. I felt rushed by the display.  I knew it wouldn’t last longer than two minutes and that I might never again witness such a dramatic dance of nature.  It was like I was in a Jimi Hendrix song “Excuse me while I kiss the sky, Don’t know if its day or night, You’re makin’ me blow my mind.” I’ll never forget when darkness fell upon the earth at ten seventeen AM and Mr.Arnold pointed to the sky and said: “Baby, look there’s a star” After witnessing the eclipse the word totality seems more dramatic and weighty. I have been around the world. I have seen so many beautiful things, but nothing has moved me or affected me like the solar eclipse. Eclipse Chaser Simon Macara is quoted as saying “Nothing else on earth is more moving, more satisfying and more nourishing for your soul than witnessing the suns radiant corona in the moment of totality.” It was one of the best days of my life.  It’s not often millions of people can describe one of the best days of their lives as the same day as many others.

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