The first total eclipse in North America in nearly forty years was this past Monday, August 21st. I thought it would be a great idea to view it. The problem is that Vancouver, where I live, is not in the path of the totality. It would only be a partial eclipse—about 90%.
I mentioned my plans to see the eclipse to a few of my buddies, and to my surprise, they expressed interest in tagging along. Initially my plans were to simply get in my car Sunday evening, drive down to Corvallis, Oregon, and watch the two-minute eclipse then turn around and drive the nine or so hours back home. However one of my buddies lucked into a last-minute house rental in Florence, Oregon. Florence is about ninety minutes south of the path of totality so we could make it a two-day road trip.
Despite all the predictions of “the mother of all traffic jams,” the trip down preceded remarkably well. Even counting rest stops we made the trip in less than nine hours, arriving in Florence about five in the evening.
The next morning we arose early to drive the 90 minutes back to Corvallis. We drove around Oregon State University until we found an ideal viewing spot. It not only had great site lines but, as an added bonus, was host to a NASA-sponsored student contest to launch balloons to film the eclipse. We parked, found a spot, put down our blanket, and unpacked all our stuff.
I began to organize myself for the eclipse. I had two sets of eclipse glasses, cameras, filters, extra batteries, and a spare SD card. I’d been practicing for the moment for months, taking literally hundreds of practice shots of the sun and moon.
At 9:15am the eclipse finally began. Over the next hour, the cookie bite out of the sun got bigger and bigger. Finally, about 10:15am, almost all the sun was obscured. The sun was still so bright that you couldn’t look at it without the eclipse glasses.
A minute later an excited murmur rose from the crowd; it was getting darker…and cooler…a wind picked up.
Suddenly, the moment I’d waited so long for arrived! The moment of totality. I pressed the button to take the perfect picture—and my camera jammed!!!! I frantically pressed buttons. The camera got totally confused and shut itself off. I had to wait for it to reboot. As it finally did so, the crowd emits a disappointed, “Awwww!” The eclipse was over. I was so busy trying to fix my camera I missed it!
I was totally crestfallen. One of my buddies got a great shot with his point-and-shoot. I got nothing. I packed up my gear and trailed behind my buddies out to the parking lot. There were a couple of university students selling eclipse T-shirts. I stood in line with my buddies to at least buy a souvenir of the event. My buddies each bought one. When I finally got to the front of the line, I was told they just sold the last one.
So I didn’t see the eclipse, didn’t get a picture—didn’t even get the T-shirt! But what the heck—there’s another eclipse in just seven years. I’ll have another chance. This time I’ll leave the camera home.