Eclipse 2017

D Vautier 12/2017

The Great Eclipse Odyssey

I believe that our three day trip to the eclipse was somewhat like the odyssey full of monsters, Cyclopes, and moving mountains.  But it was in fact an experience well remembered for more than one reason.  It was an event I have been planning for over a year and was well worth every second.

Our site choice was Lime, OR. just south of Baker City, mainly because it had the highest probability of clear weather and the longest totality.  My hotel reservation was made a year ahead but the hotel changed the rates to $500 per night so I cancelled it.  We made reservations at Kennewick, WA. This required a 200 mile drive to Lime.

All went well on our first day’s drive on Sunday to Kennewick, but WSDOT, (washdot), (Washington department of transportation) got into lots of trouble because they had not planned for increased westbound traffic on I-90.  They did get it all straight by Monday and Tuesday.

On Sept 21st we left at 4 a.m. for the 200 mile drive to Lime.  It went without a single slowdown but we decided to stop at the Weatherby Rest Stop along I-84 about 25 miles south of Baker Or., which gave us about 5 seconds less totality than Lime.  We got there 2 hours before eclipse.  The skies were totally clear and the day was perfect.  The place was packed and everybody was having lots of fun.  There were unicycles and bagpipes.  The lines for the restrooms stretched out for a good 45 minutes.

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop

The eclipse was absolutely heavenly.

We started back north when I suddenly realized I had lost my wallet so we turned around.  My heart sank because I had walked all over that rest area and had no idea but to retrace all my steps.  But I did have a hunch.  Because of the long restroom lines I had snuck into the bushes to relieve my bladder so the first thing I did was took there.  I found my wallet lying on the ground in front of me.  What an incredibly lucky break.

We started north again and were immediately caught in two long backups, about an hour each.  There had been no prior warning about these slowdowns.  Worse yet there was no need for these lane closures.  The work could have been easily put off for a day.  It seems like Oregon just did not like Washington people visiting their state for eclipses.

Our next big obstacle came soon after.  Flashing lights told us that the Columbia River Bridge was closed because of construction, accidents and a brush fire in the Horse Heaven Hills.  Motorists heading north were advised to seek alternate routes.  The obvious alternate route was hwy 395 through Hermiston, then hwy 207 to hwy 730, all single lane roads.  Hwy 730 then joins hwy 12 which follows the Columbia up to Pasco and connects with Kennewick .

We wound up sitting on hwy 730 for an hour with a thousand cars behind us and a thousand cars in front and the Columbia River to our left and a sheer cliff to our right.  I was almost out of gas.  There was no traffic the other way so we turned around and went back to Hermiston for gas.  From there we tried to work out another way to get back to Washington.  We called WSDOT and ODOT but there was no answer except that the bridge was closed for an indefinite time.  We could go back to Biggs junction but that would mean taking the road through the Horse Heaven hills or we could go back to Pendleton, catch hwy 11 to Walla Walla and then Hwy 12 into Pasco.  It added another 100 miles but we had to get back to our hotel.  There were many accidents along the way but we were finally able to get into Kennewick after 12 hours of almost constant driving. That day we had driven for 15 hours from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.

He next day driving back to Seattle was uneventful.

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop 10:28

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop 10:28

2017 eclipise at weatherby rest stop 10:29