An angry rancher, horrific traffic and one totally awesome solar eclipse

Nothing, and no one, was going to stop Candace Rohrick from celebrating her birthday directly underneath the eclipse's path

Vancouver realtor Candace Rohrick was determined to see the total solar eclipse, which arched across the United States on Aug. 21 — the same day as her birthday. With hotel rooms costing thousands of dollars, she and her family travelled to the middle of Oregon ranchland in the middle of the night to make it happen. She shares her diary here.

My Solar Experience

5pm (Sunday evening): We prepare my Honda Element for the trek to Madras, Oregon to see the solar eclipse and to celebrate my birthday which happens to fall on the same day! This feels like an adventure… it is going to be fun!

article continues below

6:30 p.m.: We are packed up and finally head out. Traffic at the border is reasonable. Maybe traffic won’t be as bad as originally predicted.

1:30 a.m.: We arrive just outside of Madras. Rest areas are full of campers and the police are not letting in any more visitors but are kind enough to let people pass through and use the facilities.

2 a.m.: We locate a remote side road that we think will be a great place to camp out for the night and view the eclipse the next morning. Not many people have found this spot. It is awesome!

5:40 a.m.: Someone is pounding on our window! He is a rancher and wants us to leave. It is not private property. However, he is very prickly and we didn’t travel so far to let him ruin our experience. We move a couple of kilometres to another spot.

7:30 a.m.: We are wakened by the sound of cattle and people setting up for the eclipse. Several cars are now parked around us and excitement fills the quiet pasture. It feels like the setting of a movie about the arrival of aliens. Weird.

Eclipse
With hotel rooms costing thousands of dollars, Candace Rohrick and her family camped out in their SUV. - Preston Rohrick

9:05 a.m.: People are set up. There are about 20 people gathered in our area. Everyone is super friendly. People have travelled from all over. One family made the trek from Los Angeles! We are the only Canadians in our group.

9:15 a.m.: The raging rancher returns. He is ordering everyone to leave to no avail. We are not on private property and it seems he has just made it his mission to be miserable instead of enjoying this awesome event. We find out that we weren’t the only ones he had been bothering. He had been patrolling the roads in the area all morning. He leaves when someone takes a picture of him and his vehicle. Within minutes conversations turn to the eclipse again and no one seems fazed by him.

9:20 a.m.: The eclipse has begun. Conversations on camera angles, Bailey’s Beads, diamond rings and general excitement for this awesome event escalate.            

9:45 a.m.: The moon has eclipsed one-quarter of the sun. To the naked eye you would never know anything was going on yet.  They say that animals are supposed to act differently during an eclipse. However, the cows grazing in the pasture seem calm. It seems like business as usual for them.

9:50 a.m.: We have one-third coverage of the sun. Conversation has reached a whole new level of “geekdom”. However, under the circumstances, it’s hard to not get caught up in the excitement of the event.

9:57 a.m.: A crescent sun is made. This is awesome.

10:12 a.m.: We now have about three-quarters of an eclipse. It looks like it is near sunset except that the light is much cooler than the warm tones we are accustomed to.

10:16 a.m.: A cool breeze has just washed over the land and the temperature has definitely dropped. It is much cooler than a few seconds ago.

10:17 a.m.: It is quite dark now. The sun only has a sliver peeking out behind the moon.

10:18 a.m.: It is getting darker by the second. We almost have a full eclipse.

eclipse
After the skies darkened, the cows behaved as if they were waking up for the second time that day. - Candace Rohrick

10:20 a.m.: We have a full eclipse. Everyone is viewing it with their naked eyes. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in our sky. Words and photos cannot capture what we are witnessing. The sky is black and for two whole minutes the silhouette of the moon sits in front of the sun producing an irregular shaped, bright platinum white halo around it. People are, for the most part, speechless except for the occasional outburst of amazement for the spectacular cosmic event before us. Trying to get a photo is very difficult. I don’t want to take my eyes off of the eclipse. The difference between a 90 per cent eclipse and being able to see 100 cent is literally night and day. I am so glad we made the journey to Madras.

10:22 a.m.: The full eclipse is over. The sun begins to emerge from behind the moon and it is now too bright to look at without eclipse glasses.

10:26 a.m.: The sun is casting a morning glow across the land and the strangest thing happens… the cows start calling out as if they were just waking up again. I guess this is what they refer to as odd behaviour in animals.

10:35 a.m.: The sun is at 1/5 of its original self and people are more interested in talking amongst each other, exchanging phone numbers and email addresses. They want to stay connected with the new friends they experienced this amazing phenomenon with.

11:06 a.m.: The sun is mostly in full view. Everyone has packed up and left.

eclipse
The people of Madras, Oregon were prepared for the thousands of people flocking to be in the direct path of the total solar eclipse. - Candace Rohrick

11:20 a.m.: We are making our way to Madras for lunch. The town is very busy but they are prepared for this event. They have food trucks and schools are set up to host visitors. Everyone is super friendly.

12 p.m.: We begin trying to make our way out of town which is very difficult as most roads are now closed and they are only allowing people to leave via a couple of routes. Looks like the National Guard is in town to help out with the traffic.

Eclipse
Getting to and from the perfect place to view the eclipse required much patience. There was traffic congestion everywhere — even in the middle of Oregon farmland. - Candace Rohrick

4 p.m.: Traffic is a nightmare. We have only traveled 20 km outside of Madras. We are heading to Portland where we are staying for the night and have dinner reservations at 7pm to finish celebrating my birthday. Not looking good.

8:45 p.m.: We finally arrive in Portland! It took us 8.75 hours to travel what should have taken us only 2.5 hours! We quickly check in and are able to get into the restaurant just before the kitchen closes. What a day! However, we are still basking in the afterglow of the eclipse and marveling at the experience. Although the traffic was the worst I have ever experienced in my life, it seemed a small price to pay for a birthday I will never forget.

Read Related Topics

Comments

NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Vancouver Courier welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Popular Vancouver Courier

Sign Up For Our e-Newsletter!