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We were there!

On February 26, 1998, we experienced our first total solar eclipse on a spit of land in Venezuela called the Paraguana Peninsula. It was such an awesome, mind-blowing experience, we decided we should seek others. Well, 19 years later, the opportunity presented itself with the Great American Eclipse!


Let's see, Jack 52, Barb, 44

Paraguana Peninsula, Venezuela
Feb. 26, 1998

Out on the peninsula, we were with about 100,000 other eclipse watchers and met up with some Americans with big cameras and telescopes.


The 2017 Eclipse

For the 2017 eclipse, we had to pick a location that was relatively easy to get to and one that would assure us of good weather on the day of the eclipse. All the research pointed to the area East of the Cascades in Oregon, near small towns like Madras, or Mitchell. At left, Solar Town in Madras. A camp spot in the farmer's field (20X20) cost min $150, not fun. We would choose to stealth camp up near Warm Springs instead. (click image for a larger view)

As we flew in to Portland a few days before the eclipse we could see East. Here is the view from the airplane window (Mt. Jefferson). There were lots of fires in the area and all that smoke blowing Eastward could foul up the sky over Madras. We needed an alternate site. The last thing we wanted was to be in a fire evacuation with hundreds of thousands of people and only three roads out.  

As "the day" approached, weather in the Salem area looked stellar and there were so many good reasons to go there instead of Madras so, the day before the eclipse, we changed venues!

The small town of Monmouth (population 10,000) became our new location of choice. It was near the eclipse centerline (2 minutes of totality), lots of roads in and out, near Portland and best of all, it was pretty much off the radar. The big city of Salem was far enough away (20 miles) and, as a bonus, the town was hosting a free concert on the night before, a Pink Floyd Legend band called Pigs on the Wing. They promised to play the long version of "Dark Side of the Moon"!

As a big bonus, Western Oregon University was not in session but was open for eclipse watchers. On Sunday (the day before) we lounged in the air conditioned student union, ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant and showered for free in the university gymnasium. We only needed to find a place to stealth camp for the night!  

Looking for a secret camp spot was daunting. It seemed that the town was expecting us with "No Camping" signs everywhere! After much searching in town, we decided to drive South a bit from town. Barb found the perfect stealth camp spot only 3 tenths of a mile from town, in the Fircrest Cemetary. Behind a columbarium wall was a small grove of trees with just enough room to pitch our tent... so private!

Off in the distance was a nice little parking spot and the "wall". (click image-can you see our tent nestled back in there?)

Could we ask for a better spot? Seculded, private, nice morning shade and not many (living) people around! Technically, we might have been outside the cemetary. We pitched our tent in late afternoon and headed back to town for dinner and the "Pink Floyd" concert.  

Click on image above for larger version

There was a n ice crowd for the concert, about 300 people in the downtown park. "Pink Floyd" played all the big hits, Another Brick on the Wall, Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Learning to Fly, Money, and of course, The Dark Side of the Moon! The concert lasted well into the dark (8- 10pm). We headed back to our secret camp spot after the concert. Neither of us had ever slept in a cemetary before, but we slept well, No Ghosts!...

The next morning when we broke camp, we peered around the wall to see about 15 other cars scattered throughout the property. It wasn't such a secret spot after all, but no one had the premium tent site like we did!

The eclipse would start at about 9am so we headed back into town and set up our viewing area at the same downtown park we were at the night before.