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Total Eclipse 8/21/2017

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dammitdave, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,785
    Location:
    Port Townsend, WA
    Total Eclipse 2017


    It seemed probable that folks in Eastern Oregon wouldn't notice just one more tourist come to see the total eclipse so I stole a couple of days from work to join the circus.(I provided my share of entertainment!)


    Slipping quietly out of Port Townsend Sunday at 0530 so as not to disturb the early faithful, I pointed the vstrom South along Hood Canal in that beautiful morning light and simply “ruled the morning”. Deer stood back from the highway, cars and pickups pulled over and leo's huddled over an extra cup of coffee at the cafe in deference to the pilgrim on a mission. It was still chilly when I stopped at the Hillbilly Coffee stand in Littlerock where girls much too young to remember Daisy Duke still dress for the part. The mocha's good too.


    From Littlerock the West-of-the-Freeway route continues through Rochester, over Michigan Hill Rd down to Lincoln Creek, Ingalls Rd and Bunker Creek Rd. Following Bunker Creek Rd to Adna a short jog East on SR6 puts you on SR603 South to Napavine and across I5 on Hwy 12 for a quick fuel stop.(53mpg) Had I known, at that point, that there were 38 miles of construction and ground pavement on Hwy12 the route would doubtless have veered a bit more South. The ride East of Packwood was tense but doable with just enough waiting to calm the nerves for the next section of grooved pavement.

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    A lot of time had been lost crossing the mountains on Hwy12 so I pulled up my big boy pants and blasted up the I82 on-ramp for the race down to Union Gap. A fella needs to get combat pay for that late Sunday morning run down 97 through Wapato and Toppenish. Turning South on 97 proper I fell into a long line of families in mini vans and born again pagans in old Volvo's, Volkswagen's and four door econoboxes with tents, folding chairs, coolers and solar panels on top to charge the smart phone. I was so discouraged that fuel economy got tossed in the ditch as easily as fast food trash when we hit the first passing lane.

    Oak Creek Wildlife Area
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    At Goldendale the filling stations were jammed. When the driver in front of me was using his smart phone to look for another station I employed my maneuverability advantage to get to the pump first. Time lost about 3 minutes.(50mpg) He barely noticed.

    Not riding Bickelton Canyon was not going to happen again. The canyon was great and curiosity pulled me all the way East to Bickelton proper. It left me wishing I'd done it years ago. After a cool refreshment, Middle Rd led me off the breaks and alongside Pine Crk down to Hwy14 where a turn to the East leads back to I82 and the bridge over the Columbia.


    It was hot in Hermiston, really hot, so I stopped at a burger joint that had condensation forming around the windows from the air conditioning. Almost anything eaten in those conditions was going to be acceptable. I got fueled and then fueled the bike at the OR207 junction not knowing how crazy the gas situation might be going home on Tuesday. While filling the bike(54mpg) I spoke with a young lad from the Spokane area riding one of the gen2 weestroms in that gorgeous copper color. He was headed to a lookout above the John Day River where a huge party was gathering. Mutual wishes for good viewing and a safe ride were exchanged and we were off. We'll visit with this young man again.


    Heavy smoke from wildfires and a lowering sun edged the heat down from Hubs of Hades to just above Lying Naked on a Wood Stove as we rode past Hinkle and South through Bucks Corner. South of I84 the rolling hills are marked every few miles by the ranches of the Madison's, McCarty's, Matheny's and the Rust and Wagon Trail ranches. Fast rolling hills and a few sharp turns kept the ride South on 207 fun but easy enough for tired reflexes.


    I had forgotten just where in Heppner the Blue Mtn Scenic Byway intersects Hwy 207. Normally a little bimble around on of these oasis towns is enjoyable, but with fading light and loads of deer along the road, I had to swallow my pride and ask directions. Once connected I sat up straight and ambled along alert for movement in the ditches and fields that would signal the presence of suicidal deer. The road starts in the broad bottom of Willow Creek hay fields and pastures. About halfway into the 21 mile run to Cuthbart Park the road narrows to a lane-and-a-half and begins the climb to Coalmine Hill, first through Ponderosa then mixed conifer, until the drier summit returns the rider to Ponderosa again. Just short of the summit, Cuthbert County Park was my home for the weekend and I pitched the tent just before the light bled out of the sky and surrendered the night to the new moon and mosquitoes.

    Blue Mtn Scenic Byway along Willow Creek
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    I had reserved a campsite in the park but abandoned it in favor of a grassy spot with morning sun and afternoon shade. It had the bonus of a father/daughter pair of dualsport riders to share tales with over beers and tea until bedtime. They were from Hood River and had explored many of the same places I had in Eastern Oregon. We talked of shared experiences and places whilst trying to explain them to our other camp neighbors, a Swiss couple touring the US for nine months. The Swiss couple had planned their itinerary to include the eclipse and planned to move by highway to the line of totality the following day.

    Camp at Cuthbert Co Park
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    #1
  2. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Monday the 20th was a day for riding to Ukiah for breakfast then touring back to Heppner via 395 and 74 to gather supplies to build a eclipse viewing pinhole box. The ride to Ukiah took me through Kelly Prairie where I hoped to view the eclipse the following morning. It looked like a good spot but was only just on the North edge of the line of totality. Crossing 395 into Ukiah it was clear that southbound traffic was building. Biscuits and gravy at The Thicket cafe and lounge came with local knowledge and self serve coffee. The locals were grateful for the off season business but running to keep up. The big season here is hunting season. I used to hunt just a dozen miles northeast of Ukiah for deer and elk with my father and uncle. Returning the half mile to 395 convinced me that the great unwashed masses were upon us so a retreat back across the Blue Mtn Scenic Byway was the route to Heppner.

    Kelly Prairie
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    The Thicket in Ukiah
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    Near noon in Heppner we had returned to Hubs of Hades. With gear stuffed in the saddlebags the drugstore fountain beckoned with iced tea, ice cream and huckleberry pie for lunch. Waddling next door I used up a sizable chunk of the afternoon chatting up the ladies in the drugstore and purchasing supplies needed to construct the most awesome eclipse viewing box. They got their day's entertainment and I got a first person history lesson about the Great Heppner Flood. It seems that the building housing the drugstore was one of the few sturdy enough survive and the upper floor became the temporary morgue for the many victims of the disaster. When I went upstairs to look for a suitable box for the viewing the owner volunteered to do it as many folks were too nervous to venture up there. Here's a link to the story: http://offbeatoregon.com/H1004c_HeppnerFlood.html

    Heppner
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    Returning to camp with supplies carefully strapped to the luggage rack I built my pinhole viewing box and tried it out right there. 'Total Bust! The three foot long box yielded only a 3/8ths inch image of the sun! What a crock! I briefly considered using a magnifying glass to boost the image but the scene in my mind was one of a huge wildfire resulting from a flaming box torn from my head and thrown in the tinder dry grass of a ridge top meadow. Still, I couldn't quite throw the box in the trash and risk my eyesight or digital camera looking at the sun.

    Testing the Box
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    During the day the cute gal and her dad had taken off for Hood River and the Swiss couple had headed South for a lookout that they just knew was so far off the beaten path that there wouldn't be a soul there. They had been replaced by an engineer whom had spent his entire career at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Still he and his wife were nice folks and he had taken time to hunt with his sons and cut firewood to exactly 15 3/4” nearby. He told me about a road that ran south along a ridge that drops off into the John Day just above Monument.
    #2
  3. ubermick

    ubermick Long timer Supporter

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    I see where your username came from, Dave. When reading through, I couldn’t help but think “Damnit, Dave - you’re an excellent writer who knows how to spin a yarn!”
    #3
  4. oldenuf

    oldenuf Long timer

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    Hello Dave,
    Nice write up and photos. Not much new here, riding with a few new old retired types here in PA and Sequim. Doing more off-road single track on small machines at Foot Hills and Sadie Creek. Just getting older and slower.

    Art
    #4
  5. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    On the morning of the eclipse the gamble of taking a stranger's advice and getting farther into the line of totality won out over the sure thing of Kelly's Prairie.

    Late as it was, the eclipse left time for breakfast and time to do most of my packing for the trip home. With time sliding away I fired up the strom and headed for FR21 South past Penland Lake and South again on 2110. I passed my camp neighbor just a mile off FR21 and decided to keep going until I reached to end of the ridge overlooking the John Day River. The road started it's pitch down to the river in timber so I back tracked to the big meadows at Gillman Flats and set up to wait with my back to the morning sun. I practiced taking photos of the pathetically small image in the pinhole box until doubt pushed me to an epiphany. “You're only going to see this once so if you don't want to travel every few years hoping that the weather doesn't block the view you've paid so much to see; you'd better get some pictures today.” So I decide 45 minutes before the eclipse to risk the camera, bracket the shots and only point at the sun when I'm ready to shoot.

    Here's the picture. I'm sitting in my joey chair in my base layer and nylon shorts. The riding gear is piled on the ground behind the chair. My feet are propped up on my helmet as I sip my tea totally absorbed in writing in my journal. Suddenly a rock is rattles across the stony ground. My little automatic seems ridiculously small compared to the bear that is about to come out of the timber whilst I'm still turning! Damn good fortune! It was just a couple of trophy elk traversing the meadow. Enjoy the videos but they just don't do these magnificent animals justice. They were gorgeous!

    Elk Crossing the Meadow
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    The Movie



    The Sequel


    A few minutes later I hear a terrific banging and crashing from farther up the ridge and it's getting nearer. I wondered if it were hot shots on their way to a wildfire, in a hurry. Nope, after several minutes of listening to that awful racket a pickup towing an aluminum horse trailer hove into view piloted by a couple of attractive cowgirls. We exchanged hello's when they had come to a stop in a billowing cloud of dust and protesting brakes. I could tell by their ear to ear grins that my setup in the middle of nowhere was providing their day's entertainment. They were on their way to the end of the ridge to check on stock in their grazing allotment. They were especially amused that someone was willing to drive from Port Townsend just to see an eclipse. They congratulated my choice of locations as Potamus Point to the East had around 1500 eclipsers and Ant Hill or Tamarack Pt to our West were overrun by thousands of partying eclipsers. So they were told by Forest Service volunteers.


    Because the meadow was surrounded by big ponderosa there was not enough view to the West to see the shadow approaching at nearly mach 2. When it arrived the meadow went from warm sunny morning to dusky red light in just minutes. It was dusk-like but shadows were still razor sharp and my safety vest was as bright as if it were struck by headlights. Looking into the viewing box revealed nothing but a bright 3/8” dot. Terrified of missing the main event I threw the box aside and set the camera for “auto sunset”. The trip was worth more than the possibility of damaging the camera. I quickly pulled on my sweatshirt against the sudden chill and began taking photos at 20 to 30 second intervals. I captured enough to redeem the risk and to date can perceive no damage to the camera.

    When it was over I shrugged into my riding gear and began the long ride home with the knowledge that I had experienced something that would probably not come again in my lifetime.

    Strange Light Begins
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    Incredibly Sharp Shadows in the Dusky Light. The Vest Really Pops
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    The Begining
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    The Camera Reveals what the Eye Dare Not See!
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    Sensor Overload
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    Ghost Images
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    The Moment 1
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    The Moment 2
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    The Moment 3
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    Quickly packing up my tent and strapping it down had me out of the campground and on my way to Heppner in minutes. So much for getting in a hurry. I have ridden Hwy207 in the summer and seen nary a car the whole morning. Post eclipse it took me 5min to get on the highway and another 20min to get through the 10 block long town itself. The pumps were jammed up here so I rode to Lexington and fueled not knowing what the situation going North would be. Ridden sensibly, the strom would get me back to I5 on Hwy12. Traffic moved North to Hermiston at a good pace with most cages bailing out at the interstate. I stopped for lunch and parked next to that copper vstrom from the Spookaloo area. Over lunch the young man told me about his ride and meeting up with friends at the lookout. The place was jammed and sounded like a big party. He said the route home would take him East on 730 to the Wallula Jct and Walla Walla where he could begin his northing.

    This end run sounded better than sitting in the baking sun trying to cross the river on the interstate bridge. There was a 2mi back up at the Wallula Jct but clear sailing through the Tri Cities on 12 to I82 and up through Yakima and West to Naches. From Naches the thought was to head West until I found a campsite. The sun was getting low and I was exhausted from combat driving in the heat. What a laugh! All the campgrounds that you could see from the highway were jammed and the one's you couldn't see had the “Full” signs out. Hyper alert for deer and anxious about grooved pavement in the construction zones I rode West shielding my eyes against the setting sun. I ended up riding all the way to Morton where a motel room beckoned. At the motel entrance there was a big Katoom across the parking lot with gear unstrapped and an exhausted rider in attendance. I walked inside and was told they only had one room left and it was $200, “do ya want it?” I refused to support robbery and walked out to see it the KTM rider needed assistance. Turns out it was Smoke Ring from Port Angeles and he was in worse shape than I was. After a short chat about conditions on I5 he opted to pay the extortion rather than the ER. It was full dark.

    Continuing West I crossed the I5 parking lot and picked up my West-of-the-freeway route in the company of a dozen cages, all with the bright screen of a holy route diviner shining back at the driver. At Adna the cages all headed for either Chehalis or the coast whilst the strom and I chose the back route to Shelton. After quick stop for heated gear and a sanity check(it was missing) I continued at 35 to 40mph all the way to Mud Bay West of Olympia. With no traffic and the lights on high it wasn't all that bad. Once on the 101 four lane I whipped the strom into a lather all the way to N. Shelton and a $68 room. It was 11:15pm.



    Sleeping in had me out of Shelton at 8am and looking forward to a slow slog up 101. Instead I had the highway to my self North of Hoodsport and rolled into Sunrise for coffee with the dogs at 9:30. Reaction at home was notable in that everyone had questions about the traffic and no one had questions about the total eclipse experience. I made the trip wanting to feel what it might have been like for primitive man to experience the sudden extinguishing of the Sun without the rationale of science. Even without animal sacrifice and fermented grain or honey it was a unique and humbling experience, bigger than humankind and insensate to our struggles.




    Thanks for riding along, DD
    #5
  6. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks Art! It's good to hear from you. I'm getting familiar with the older and slower part.

    Thanks ubermick, some folks say I'm just full of b------t! Gotta put it to use....dd
    #6
  7. wetwider

    wetwider Been here awhile

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    Damn good write-up, Dammit! Enjoyed reading it a bunch, and thought of you down there while watching the partial eclipse through a pinhole cereal box out on the Spruce Goose deck. Results were marginally better than your bazooka-box.
    #7
  8. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    #8
  9. ubermick

    ubermick Long timer Supporter

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    A lot of people incorrectly assumed that being in an area with 99% totality meant they’d get the same experience as a total eclipse. The second totality happened (wife and I made the trek north to Madras, OR) it was... just don’t have the words.
    #9
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  10. RainRider45

    RainRider45 Been here awhile

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    Now?
    The vest looks cool. Maybe a UV reflection and lack of light?

    Great report Dave but you forgot to put your finger over your plate.

    Now everyone knows. Never could understand why someone would list a bike on CL with a finger over the plate but list the vin in bike data?

    Hump maybe I am the only one that can see plates driving down tha road,

    Anyway Great report hope to catch up with ya some day.
    #10
  11. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

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    RainRider, Thanks for the compliments and insight on the vest. As far as covering up the plate, I work at having nothing to hide and no matter how hard I work I have nothing to steal!:lol3
    #11
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  12. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great write-up and writing! Good on you for making the trek to view the eclipse, nothing like an adventure to witness something super cool from nature :thumb

    Have to agree with ubermick, we made the trek to Corvallis to watch the eclipse in totality and it was something very special (especially for our boys). Don't want to take away from your thread, but wanted to share one of the best shots I got using our point-and-shoot.

    Glad you made it back to the homestead without issue and didn't have too many issues with the other drivers on the road. Ukiah is one of my favorite parts of eastern Oregon, especially the FS road that winds its way to Granite and Sumpter :ricky

    Thanks for taking us along!

    Attached Files:

    #12
  13. dammitdave

    dammitdave Long timer Supporter

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    Great shot liv2day! I shared the story with friends in Corvallis whom watched it from their deck, cool beverages in hand. They journeyed from deck to fridge and back several times with no risk from crazy drivers or deer. No adventure in that! +1 on Ukiah area; I'm thinking of a ride down that way in 2018 just to ride the scenic byways. dd
    #13
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  14. Gootch

    Gootch Long timer Supporter

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    Thank for the report DD; I enjoyed being taken along for the ride. I appreciate the photos too. I missed the eclipse because I was making great time headed north on I-5 to catch the ferry at Anacortes to Orcas Island for a few days of camping. My wife, daughter, and sister kept passing the proper eclipse glasses among themselves as I stayed the course (until a gas stop with bout 5% of the eclipse remaining).

    You were riding on some of my favorite roads too. I ride through Heppner at least once a year (and last summer discovered dining at the Cornerstone on Main - small, friendly, tasty). At one time, I had never been faster on a road than just a bit outside Bickleton.

    In any case, it sounds like you enjoyed just about every bit you could out of that trip. I guess there is also something to be said for being friendly and open to strangers.
    #14
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