Viewing the total solar eclipse

Since the path of totality for the solar eclipse started only an hour’s drive south of where we now live, we decided we had to go see it. Weeks before the event, predictions about the amount of people coming into Oregon were scary: the roads would be overwhelmed, cell service might go down, as well as credit card systems and city sewer systems. I almost didn’t want to bother making the trip, and I wondered if seeing a total solar eclipse was really that much better than a partial eclipse. I am glad that Sean was determined to see the total eclipse, however, because it was much more amazing than I expected.

We left home at 4:30 am, and though the traffic on I-5 to Salem was heavy, it wasn’t slowed down very much. It probably took us a little over an hour to get to downtown, where we found parking and walked to the Riverfront Park. The city of Salem had allowed people to camp overnight in the city’s parks that weekend, so there were plenty of tents around. We picked a spot to set up our lawn chairs and settled in for the 4+ hour wait. The time went by surprisingly fast, and the park continued to fill up with people.

As it got closer to totality, the temperature got colder and the light got dimmer, but not in the same way that it does when the sun sets. Somewhere, music speakers were playing “The Final Countdown” (I still only picture Gob Bluth whenever I hear it) and then “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” We watched through our sun-viewing glasses as the sun became a thin sliver and then disappeared. Only then were we able to take off the glasses and gaze directly at the sun. I won’t be able to describe it well enough, and my iPhone camera couldn’t possibly capture it, but it was a brilliant white halo with a starkly black center that was so beautiful to look at. It was dark as night where we stood. I pressed record on my iPhone before it happened so I could remember the general feel and excitement of the moment. I didn’t look at the phone while recording, for obvious reasons, so the video is pretty shaky. But if you want to see darkness fall and crowds cheering (and hear Sean and I ooh-ing and ahh-ing), watch the video below:

We knew traffic was going to be bad when the eclipse was over, so we thought we’d try wait it out and hang out in Salem a while longer. That was not the best decision. The traffic never abated that day and it ended up taking us 4 hours to get back home. I found out the next day that my cousin’s family left Madras, OR after the eclipse to go to Crater Lake, and didn’t get to their hotel until 3:00 in the morning! So I won’t complain. It was totally worth it.



About the author


From Hillsboro, Oregon.

Loves pizza, travelling, books, movies, and video games (especially that one with portals).

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