Road trip to the dark side of the Sun

After a drive from Seattle to L.A., straight down I-5, I took a more easterly, more scenic route home through a swath of America I’d never seen. The Mojave, Red Rock Canyon, the Eastern Sierras near Mount Whitney, the Ansel Adams Wilderness, strange, alien, ultra-saline Mono Lake, the moonscape of NW Nevada (including a campsite at Rye Patch where the temp at 4pm was 106 F), and the wild, deep-canyon-scored “Owyhee Country” of far eastern Oregon. Astonishing landscapes!

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I then camped on the school football field in Huntingdon, OR, snug up against the Snake River at the Idaho border and right on the line of totality:

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But I actually viewed the eclipse from a field above the town, with a better view. Ominous clouds the previous afternoon, but it was perfect:

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Notice the line of cars on the road:

A shout-out to Zac and Asher, from San Diego, who I met there. Keep up with the writing and movie-making, Asher!

Naturally, my point-and-shoot produced top quality pix:

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I suppose I didn’t find the eclipse itself quite the life-changing experience some people have enthused about, but still it was strange, beautiful, and memorable. Most surprising, perhaps, was the very sudden change at the precise moment of totality. At 60% there was a kind of haze over the landscape; at 90%, you felt you were wearing sunglasses even though you weren’t. But at 99%, seconds before totality, the sun was still bright enough to be casting deep, distinct shadows, with enough residual light to read by, at a pinch … and then, in an instant, like the last sheen of water in a heated frying pan, the light evaporated. Looking up, without the eclipse glasses, you could see what it might be like to approach the black hole at the center of the galaxy – an enigmatic, perfectly circular pool of nothing, surrounded by hair-fine filaments of pure gold light.

And then it was over, and there was a 425-mile drive home. It should have taken 6 hours, and took 11 thanks to Oregon rebuilding its freeway system – but with even more gorgeous landscapes along the way.

Seattle – LA – Eclipse – Seattle: 2644 miles.
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