After months of anticipation for The Great American Eclipse, we drove early in the morning to experience its totality. That was my plan A, which became plan B, then plan C, then back to plan A.
My plan A was to drive into somewhere near the edge of totality, park somewhere off the road, see the eclipse, then immediately drive home since totality is so brief. But as I learned more about the eclipse and Jenni’s family got excited about, it made sense to turn it into a family event. Especially since Travis and Jenna’s house in Salem was in the path of totality.
Then the day before we planned to driving to Salem, we canceled our plans to stay with them because our kids were sick. I monitored the traffic online throughout the weekend and we made the decision to drive on Monday to totality—McMinnville at least, Monmouth if time allowed. We left our house at 7am and went through back roads to our destination. It took 30 minutes longer than normal with traffic congestion near the smaller towns along the way. The time was almost double to get home, through we took a slightly longer route to enjoy the farm lands.
My original destination was a Bi-Mart in Monmouth, but we couldn’t use their restrooms without a membership, so we hopped over next door to the Dairy Queen and set up in their parking lot.
I set up my backup camera on a tripod for a timelapse, my Zoom H1 to record the sounds of our reaction, and had my camera with telephoto lens in hand for the totality. I also borrowed a voltage probe from work to collect data from a solar panel.
Throughout the eclipse, we noticed that the temperature was getting cooler and with the temperature probe alongside the voltage probe on my LabQuest 2, the data confirmed it. As you see in the graph below, the speed at which the temperature cooled alongside the more dramatic voltage drop-off.
As totality approached, it was eerie to see the world darken and darken while the horizon stayed bright. The darkening was very gradual at first, but then it came suddenly as totality was complete. There was wild cheering at first, but then, all was quiet as everyone marveled at the sight.
I took a few photos, but spent most of the two minutes looking around, and staring at the sun. Jenni’s video captured all of our reactions.
The Washington Post has a great tool to calculate the number of eclipses in your lifetime. It looks like the next one in America I’ll likely see in my lifetime will be in 2045, when I’m 66 years old!