When I heard there was going to be a total solar eclipse in driving distance of us, it was an absolute must do. It was August 2017, and we decided to make a week and a half trip of it, toodling down in our van from Seattle, through Portland to visit friends and meandering our way to Madras, Oregon.
We were delighted to discover that it’s legal to camp anywhere on National Forest land, no permit required, as long as you’re not actually blocking a roadway. Better yet, the same applies to National Grasslands land, which is basically the same thing as National Forest, without the trees, and there’s a heck of a lot of it around Madras, Oregon.
I’m posting this belatedly, 18 months late, so I’m going to have to let the photos do most of the talking about the trip.
I will say, though, that the eclipse itself was one of the peak experiences of my life. We found a spot to camp less than a mile from the center line of the path of the totality, so our position couldn’t have been more perfect. We had the area where we camped to ourselves (although a coyote came barking around our van late at night, leading to some hurried closing of doors), and then took a short hike up to the top of a nearby hill for the eclipse itself.
The hilltop had drawn a number of other eclipse watchers, including some with some amazing equipment for the viewing, so we got to enjoy a little bit of a sense of party for the event itself (and Zevin found a friend to play with that day, too!)
The eclipse itself was absolutely transcendent. We watched the shadow charge across the valley floor towards us, and when the totality hit us, and we could rip off our glasses and look directly at the blazing corona, my scalp and spine went electric tingly, and I felt a welling of tears and laughter and emotion that I could not have predicted. The air turned suddenly cold and you could see constellations in the middle of the day. People whooped and hollered, I gibbered and giggled, unable to contain my glee.