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The Solar Eclipse

In recent months life has surprised me with eclecticisms copious. As I write, drenched bone-deep in miracles, a volley of experiences and sensations anew, I am experiencing life. The United States has many backdrops, I have seen the pictures. In traveling to the west coast, I have experienced a plethora of new landscapes. The densest forests are illuminating. This article will be the beginning of new direction for HeartofZeus. I intend to increase my focus on travel, and will be relaying my travel experiences through my writing. Someday, I hope to write a novel, possibly more than one, and HeartofZeus is a learning experience for me. This is an expedition; the blossoming of my art.

Let me tell you a story.

Left on August 20th, destination of the Baker City Bike Hostel, food and supplies for a few days, with the intention to purchase more in the sales-tax free state of Oregon. After nabbing the car from Queen Anne, a neighborhood near where we live in Seattle, Danae and I set off at 2 PM from the Green Tortoise Hostel. We stocked up on cigarettes and gasoline once in Oregon, as well as a few food items such as bread and mayo. Arriving at the Baker City Bike Hostel at 9 PM, we decided not to stay based upon a reading error on my part. The price was twice as much, as we were two people in a single tent, vs one person in a single tent. I respect the business principles behind this, and in the end we were happy to save the original 13 dollar expenditure, which would have been double if we stayed. We slept in our Nissan Versa in a Walmart parking lot in Ontario, Oregon. It was a semi-pleasant experience, and after the second time sleeping in a parking lot, we have learned that planning to stay in the car is a viable option to preplan for.

We awoke, uncomfortable but lively, around 7 AM. Ontario is Mountain Time, so although we had planned to see the eclipse at 10:30, it would now be 11:30 AM. We went into Walmart, seeking bathrooms, and eclipse glasses. We did not find the latter. The associates, apparently alerted to my situation, notified me there was a gentleman selling solar eclipse glasses whom had just left the building. With Danae in the restroom, I headed to the parking lot. I did not find the man. What I did find was a row of people at the west edge of the parking lot, blankets and chairs occupying the sliver of grass between the parking lot and the entry drive. The first individuals I encountered were a couple traveling home from Canada, stopping to see the eclipse before finishing their journey in Idaho. I introduced myself by presenting that I was seeking a man selling solar eclipse glasses. They were unknowing of his whereabouts, but the lady informed me they had two extra pair of glasses. I was ecstatic. After a quick glance at the sun, because…constant vigilance, I exchanged 8 dollars, a very fair price for the glasses, and traversed the parking lot to find Danae at the car. We went and viewed Idaho from across the Snake River, 30 feet from the car, joyful; the Oregon Trail is rather enjoyable in 2017.

Our next intended stop was Annex, Oregon, as we heard Weiser, Idaho was one of the best places to view the eclipse. We wanted to be around that area, while staying in Oregon. We ended up just north of Annex. We parked on the side of the road, car facing west, and waited. Checking periodically with our glasses, we began to see the moon cover the sun. The sight brought about an enjoyment larger than I was expecting. As time passed, we saw the sun further eclipsed through the glasses, but it remained fairly bright. Without the glasses, one would not know the eclipse is going to occur until it happens to happen. I can see how the ancients would have been stunned. I was stunned, and it was a slow process. The full eclipse lasted two minutes. I read that, I didn’t time it. The darkness enveloped us fully, the equivalent: ten minutes of dawn; however the sun never set for us that morning. The moon continued its orbit, as usual, and the brightness come back to us in full. Danae and I concurred that it was an exciting experience.

Solar Eclipses are said to represent, and thus bring about, new beginnings. Unbeknownst to us, the truth may be just that. We left our viewing location for the eclipse, and drove to the Umatilla National Forest. We would be dispersed camping until Thursday. I use a website, https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm to find forest service roads, and we drive to the roads with the hope of finding established campsites. Usually we find roads we cannot drive upon with the Nissan Versa; rather disappointing. After the usual couple hours of exploring the terrain, we settled just across the highway from the Oregon Trail Visitors Center. An open sight atop a hill, a view of the forest and mountains in the distance, a deer carcass thirty feet away; the first time Danae found animal bones. We settled there two nights in a row, but we did spend the day in between exploring an area of the Umatilla near Tollgate, a very small town in Oregon. We were attempting to find a new camping location near Tollgate, but we spotted a black bear and a black bear cub very near the only suitable campsite we came across. For the both of us, it was our first time seeing a bear. We saw it from the car, but the spotting occurred on a trail we nearly decided to venture down only 45 minutes earlier. Altogether quite an exciting experience.

After our second night on the Oregon Trail, we headed northwest. We stopped at a McDonalds and bought two coffees. They tasted tax-free and it was liberating. We drove until Zillah, Washington, where we stopped for petrol. The internet informed us of the cheapest place. After putting in seventeen dollars, and receiving a measly half tank of gas, we were en route to our final destination; Snoqualmie Pass. We took exit 54 on highway 90 north and resolved to park at the Gold Creek Trailhead. A sign indicating we could not host a fire seemed to mark this as campable territory. We searched for a location to pitch our tent, exploring mostly the south and north sides of the pond, respectively, all to no avail. There was a very interesting spot at the north end of the lake, a small peninsulated bit of grass and shrubs, which held room enough for a tent about 10 meters out. There was even indication of a previous campfire, with the fire ban being in place for at least ten days. We did not feel like porting the gear around the island however, and moved on, to the south side of the highway.

The finale of our journey, a grand one, happened at the Lake Keechelus Boating Site and Picnic Area. We parked our car and found immediate camping up a set of stairs on the west side of the parking lot. Alone, but very close to civilization, including a few RV’s parked closer to the lake, we camped on the edge of the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Our view was of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It was a beautiful evening. We supped on peanut butter and jam, with no fire. We meandered the edge of the lake, finding one more camp site hidden atop a mound of rocks. We witnessed a strange halting of traffic on highway 90. I suspected demolition was the cause, but honestly have no clue the likelihood of that. With the rainfly on our Marmot tent, bright orange, we slept soundly.

It did in fact rain the night of our stay in Snoqualmie pass. We awoke at separate times in the early morning to find it drizzling, if not more precipitation than that. After the sun was a bit above the mountains we ventured to the parking lot. What we discovered was a three-hundred and sixty degree view containing pine tree painted mountains, topped thick as 50’s ice cream shakes with fog. A gray whipping crème of Mother Nature’s cycling sustenance. Fog is my favorite weather, and the sight of the mountains was a magnificent experience to intake. After packing our gear into our car, we headed to our home. Into downtown Seattle we arrived, dropped off our bags, parked the car closer than we had it pre-solar eclipse, and walked home. It was something to experience, and I feel as if I will indeed see another solar eclipse in the future. I would recommend journeying to one, to anyone.

-Chris 8/25/2017