The sun returns

Trail heads into Blue Basin

After the cheers died down and a few vehicles sped off to beat the post-eclipse crowds, I said goodbye to all my brand-new eclipse friends and wished them a safe trip home to Seattle, and Portland, and Calgary, and Providence, Hartford, and Albany. (See my eclipse  2017 post here.) Curiously, of all the people I met, they seemed to mostly hail from either the Pacific Northwest, or New England – opposite sides of the continent.

I had been out of cell range since the previous afternoon, and had merely a sense of where I was headed, based on a map in a newspaper that a woman in a museum had shown me the day before. I had the south-bound road to myself. “Yes! All you eclipse tourists just head on home and clear the roads for me, will you?” I thought as they passed me, heading north. There are few roads and I was not concerned about getting lost.

The eclipse-altered temperature continued to drop as I drove, and could see the temperature display in the Jeep. It dropped from 78 degrees at 10am to 64 degrees by about 11am before it began quickly warming again. I didn’t believe the readout at first, but realized that also happens at dawn: though the sun has finally come up, the morning temperatures will continue to fall until the power of the sun finally overrides the cooling.

I stopped along the way to take a photo of a bluff with striations of different colours, showing up brightly in the strengthening sunlight.

Colourful stripes of earth exposed in the side of a bluff above the John Day River.

Feeling the welding glass still in my pocket, I pulled it out and took another look at the sun. True, it had not been that long since I had stood on the side of the road and watched the eclipse, but it was still surprising to see the sun only 2/3 visible. People were driving, or still on the side of the road, chatting. It was hard to believe how calm we all were, considering the scientific marvel going on right above our heads. I gaped at it a little more, then got back into the Jeep.

In no time I found the parking lot for the Blue Basin trails. It was full of cars and after I parked, I joined a few others who continued to steal glances at our partially obscured sun. Then, in the swelling heat of late morning, I grabbed a water bottle and began hiking the Overlook trail.

Sights along the Blue Basin Overlook Trail.
A mostly dry creek bed wound through the bottom of the canyon, wet here and there where weak springs surfaced.
Fossils found in the area were displayed to help us imagine what they were like when found.

The draw here is the blue-green clay and weathered formations that tower up from the trail. As we were near the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, it was not surprising but still delightful to find fossils installed along the trail to help us imagine the canyon in a different time. The fossils were only replicas of what had been found there.

A layer of the blue-green clay soil.
Earth and sky
The shapes of eroded soils were also fascinating.
My Brandeis T-shirt drew an unexpectedly high number of conversations with people who were also Alumni of the school, or had connections to the school.

The blue and green colours showed everywhere, and were most noticeable when I could contrast them with more familiar colours like the golden grasses and rust of mineral-rich soils. I tried to find brighter blues in the few damp areas of the small springs there, but there were no clear examples. My guess is that this canyon is even more remarkable in the rain, which would likely bring out those unexpected hues.

I imagined that sufficient time had passed to allow people to get on their way toward home, and decided I could begin my trip back. I knew the traffic would be worse Monday afternoon than it had been on Sunday, and I wanted to allow myself enough time to get home at a reasonable hour for a full night’s sleep.

Making my slow trip home with all the other eclipse-viewers.
I stopped beside the John Day River (you can see it’s larger here, farther down stream) for a leisurely lunch with my feet in the water. It was 100 degrees.

In an hour or so, I was crawling along the road at 8 miles per hour with hundreds of others who had delayed their return, just like me. My attempts at being uniquely clever were dismayed every time on this eclipse trip. I guess the odds of coming up with an original idea are reduced when there are thousands of others seeking eclipse totality with you! 😉

I did finally make it home by 9pm, which was acceptable. Interstate 5 was still pretty crowded when I got to it, so I took the smaller Highway 30 to get home to Rainier and avoided all the Seattle eclipse-viewers who were heading north still, 10 hours after the eclipse. I heard horror stories of missed flights and 2-hour journeys taking 8 hours instead. So I missed the worst of it, and remained in high spirits all day long.

12 thoughts on “The sun returns

    1. Agreed, Ms. Laurie. It’s a month on and I barely even remember the traffic except that I was going so slowly I could take photos of it. Mostly I remember being with the people that day. It was a special atmosphere. All of us were sharing a momentous event, and it wasn’t divisive on any level. It felt marvelous.

  1. You got quite a collection of photos there and I am so glad I didn’t have to follow the line of cars home. But you had some pretty good scenery on the way at least. As I said before, I watched it a little and watered at the same time. How are you doing with smoke in your area?

    1. Hey Marlene. I apologize for the delayed response. I’ve had another summer like last year, and it makes it hard for me to wrap up all the loose ends, like responding to people’s comments!! But of course I love you all each day, even when I’m not here to say it, and you especially.

      With the rain, the smoke has cleared. As I age, I feel the effects of the air to a greater degree. It makes me so grateful that the worst I suffer with is stuffiness and poor sleep for a couple days, when so many people have life-threatening respiratory reactions to the smoke in the air. It was so thick there for awhile, couldn’t even see the trees at the end of my property. Can you believe that?!

      I’m mostly just glad the fires have been checked. And the Interstate is finally open again. What a mess for the Dept of Transportation.

      I have my annual hike planned for the end of the month. I did not win the lottery for a seasonal ticket this year, so I had to purchase one outside of the peak season. The end of October is a very sketchy time due to weather. I went to this same area in October of 2015 and it was spectacular, so … there is a chance I’ll be able to go. If there is recent snowfall that will obscure the trail, I won’t go.

      Hopefully I’ll be able to post about my hike soon! Love you, Crystal

      1. Was thinking about you several times and wanted to send a note. Without a job and still too busy for words. None. Have no time to write. 😦 Hope the snow holds out for you. I personally, never want to see it again. I’m also glad the smoke is gone. I was doing a rain dance on the hill to bring it to us. Glad you are ok. Love you too,. M

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