Travels with Dick and Karen

Eclipse May 2012

Part 1
Oregon to Eclipse


On May 20th, 2012, the moon and sun connived to partially darken the earth with an Annular Eclipse. Although we've managed to get in the way of Total Solar eclipses, we'd never experienced this variety. A perfect excuse to start another trip in the Sprinter. Karen had never been to Yosemite (which we'd hoped to hit on our Fall 2011 Volcano Trip). We finished the jaunt with an extended visit to the John Day Fossil Beds in Central Oregon.

We started the trip with our usual crack-of-2pm departure from Seattle. Then we abandoned I-5 in Olympia and headed for the Washington seacoast.

Our first night was spent at Washington's Cape Disappointment State Park. For us, it wasn't one.

Cape Disappointment is the lower left-most corner of Washington, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific.

Flotsam, jetsam and things from Japan are ending up here as well as in Oregon.

A morning hike to the old lighthouse was almost mandatory.

Karen's a botanist at heart

Cormorant art installation, painted with guano.

Cape Disappointment has two lighthouses... this one is still active (so we had to hike over to it, too)

Then we drove across the bridge to Astoria Oregon, where we had lunch. Then westward to the Oregon coast, and down along the coastal highway.

At a tiny pullout, We watch the hang gliders on Tillimook head

spiralling down with this view of the appropriately-named Cape Lookout State Park

We frequently detoured or pulled off to take in views and short walks.

Mid-May found the dunes and beaches too cold for swimmers

Picturesque Newport bridge, spanning Yaquina Bay

It has been over 15 years since our last visit to the Newport Aquarium. It had greatly expanded, adding more buildings and an outdoor seabird aviary and pools.

Puffin at the Newport Aquarium

Karen camped in front of the octopus grotto, snapping lots of photos of the octopus for a stained glass table she's planning.
Other invertebrates fell prey to her lens...
And if there's one thing that can capture both of us for hours, it's watching jellyfish float by...
Pidgion Gillemots letting us know what they think of us.
One more try at the octopus

Newport is blessed with two aquaria... just up the street from the Aquarium is the Hatfield Marine Science Center. There we found an octopus that couldn't get away. Their nearby live octopus was far more skillful in hiding out of camera range.

Where the Aquarium with all its animals holds the attention of children, the Hatfield is a delight for adults like us. They do a great job of presenting the research they are doing all over the world.

But enough of indoor marine life, it was time to return to the real rough coast and the view of the lighthouse at Oregon's Sunset Bay State Park, just south of Coos Bay

The adjacent gardens of the Simpson estate form Shore Acres State Park at the backside of Cape Arago's headlands

The formal gardens are really improbable-looking in contrast with the surroundings

We just had to turn right at this fountain...

...and walk a few hundred feet to stand here
At the nearby end-of-the-road at Cape Arago, there were docents with spotting scopes, so we stopped.
Notice the fur seals covering the beach. There were also Elephant seals.
... inland there were elk taking advantage of the spring greens.
The native rhododendrons are one of Karen's favorites.
This huge stump was just across from our campsite our first night in California. This was the Mills Creek campground in California's Del Norte Redwood State Park, which is itself in the middle of the Redwoods National Park, a few miles south of Crescent City.

Prior to camping on the night of the 19th, we had stopped in at the ranger station in Crescent City to get a weather forecast update. Crescent City was very close to the centerline of the eclipse path. The nearby tiny town of Klamath California was going to be spot-on the centerline. Unfortunately, the forecast for eclipse time was increasing cloudiness... we were in Crescent City at the same time of day that the eclipse would happen on the next day. Indeed the western half of the sky was socking in as we watched.

We decided to spend the next morning making a mad dash inland to near Redding California (or beyond).

Just after lunch we stopped at a rest area filled with swarms of locust-like bugs. Unlike many, this one was whole and still moving.

Just west of Redding was Whiskeytown Lake, which apparently was the Official Spot to watch the eclipse. It was packed. We decided to press on eastward to get slightly better positioned on the centerline (and perhaps to find a parking spot). Continuing a few miles east of Redding on the Lassen Peak Highway took us up on the plains of the mid-state plateau. At a gap in the range fencing we found a reasonably-sized gaggle of like-minded folks at the side of the road. We asked if we could join them and they said "Sure!"

There were about a dozen parties of all sorts of eclipse-chasers. There were NASA-outreach people with pretty eclipse-information postcards to hand out.

Sheets of very safe opaque coated film and welder's glass were handed around

There were families who'd brought various kitchenware (collanders, tea strainers, etc) to show the crescent-shaped shadows cast/projected by the sun through any hole that it could find.

A wide variety of cameras and telescopes were pointed at the sun and willingly shared. We brought two.

.., as I said, any hole served to project the crescents
We weren't equipped for stellar photography, these are just shot through the eyepiece (totally confusing the camera's auto-focus)
This was an "Annular" eclipse... the moon was too far away to completely cover the sun's disk. Totality still had some of the sun's surface visible all around the moon's shadow. Unlike a Total solar eclipse, we never saw the full darkening of the skies or the glorious corona extending far from the sun. We had to keep our serious eye protection in place throughout the event.
The greenish cast of welder's glass let us watch the sun clear itself of the upstart moon... as the clouds began to catch up from their barrier at the coast. We headed eastward to seek a campground.

Next Stop: Yosemite

Travel index Yosemite John Day Fossil Beds


all text and images copyright Karen and Dick Seymour 2012,
and may not be reproduced without written permission

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