Tuesday, September 26, 2017

burning moon

It is Sunday before eclipse Monday. The newsmaniacs are making the most of a natural event. Oregon is first to see the action, and traffic has reached epic proportions. Madras, a tiny little pile of dust in central Oregon is supposed to be the epicenter because it has the best chance of clear weather in the whole United States. 30,000 people are expected in a town of 3,000. A nightmare, to me. I don't like being around 3 people I don't know, let alone Burningman levels. But, it is a rare total eclipse, and we, luckily, are 5 miles from the path of totality. We will mosey to Poverty Bend road in the morning and stand there. That's the line. At Poverty Bend you get about 20 seconds of totality. For the next 70 miles south, totality will be increasingly visible. With the numbers of people expected, I think we'll ride as far south as we can to the middle, then stop. with hours to spare.

(So it is now the end of summer and I am writing about what we actually did. And I am writing this on a new silvery hp Pavilion laptop. and I love it and it works. I have not erased a single thing I didn't intend to.)

So, we jumped on the bike at 6:00 and arrived at Poverty Bend about five minutes later. Always one to get a jump on things, we made an early start. The eclipse began at 9:15 with Totality at 10:16 or something. Exactly. They know exactly when. And I've seen partial eclipses, but wowzer. This was something else entirely. So, being there so early, we decided to keep riding. There were very few on the road, and we thought we were being so smart. We made it to the Center of Totality at 6:45 with an anticipated 1 minute 58 seconds of full eclipse action, to happen in about 2 hours. We finally landed in Monmouth, Oregon, a tiny town with a nice little park, and stopped for coffee. There were lines around the corner at most places, but we found a little ice cream shoppe selling crappy coffee for a buck a cup. Perfect. Coffee a buck and stale muffin a buck. so we had a four dollar breakfast while everyone else was standing in line for the scalpers coffee at seven dollars a thimbleful. We sat in an empty parking lot with picnic tables with people from San Jose and Chicago and Monmouth. We had viewing glasses from Lowe's and a stack of purple glass Kurt had taped together for a partial eclipse years ago. We waited and waited as the sky darkened like Alaska in summertime. As the moon covered the sun, every spot of sunlight was crescent shaped: like trees with dappled light? The dapples were crescent shaped, same as the sun. Once Totality happens -- and it happens in an instant -- you take off your glasses and the corona is visible, the Umbra, I think. And we had 2 full minutes to consider this awesomeness before the sun passed beyond the moon, or the moon moved past the sun. Whatever. I'm so happy I was able to see it. Then we tried to go home. Reference the part earlier where I said we thought we were smart.

Well,we weren't. We thought we'd sneak away as soon as the event was over, not waiting for the entire eclipse to finish. Sneaky. But not. We slipped out of Monmouth with about 10,000 other smarties, and bottle-necked on the two-lane road home. On the bike. Sucking fumes. In the heat and leather, which didn't stay on long... three and a half hours later, workday shot -- yeah, I had planned to go to work at noon -- we got home and collapsed.

But we saw it. Totality. Totally.

Then Oregon burst into flames: Brookings, the Illinois River Valley, Middlefork to Joe Bar, almost jumped the river to G'ma's house. And up north, Cascade Falls, Stevenson, Multnomah Falls, Sisters, Bend. Heartbroke. Bob entertained and hosted, in that order, the Firefighters from Florida who kept his place from burning. He had newspaper and TV coverage calling him the Godfather of Joe Bar. During this time it was to be his 80th Birthday Bash. Madness and Mayhem at Joe Bar. But the fire kept the weak away. We are among them. I couldn't stand the thought of breathing that air.

During the fires we made a very quick trip to Santa Cruz. Felton, actually, a gorgeous little hamlet tucked away in a grove of redwoods I'd never seen before. An old man, a dulcimer builder, made a dulcimer for Kurt. His name was...... um........... I forget, but the company is Capritaurus. He was 81, in a funky little shop he'd been in since the hippie days, right next door to the Felton Bigfoot Museum, a life-long obsession of his brother's.

We also drove into San Jose to see Kurt's aunt and uncle. San Jose is ugly. The whole place was awful: thick trash littered the freeways, everything dry and crispy, ripe for fire. Driving south through the middle of California it was 118 degrees with no visual respite. We spent the first night in a Santa Cruz motel. I left my pillow. My perfect down pillow. Dammit. The second night we drove up Hiway One, which is not the coast until almost Eureka. We did drive through the Valley of the Giants, but air quality was poor even down that far. By the time we got to Oregon, it was smokey as night. We finally stopped driving at Gold Beach and spent the night in a throwback motel with a spiral staircase to the loft. I'm sure the view was nice but I couldn't breathe.

Back in the Untied States of America, untied is closer to the truth. We have come undone. Nazis are marching openly in the streets in the south, and in Portland to be frank. People are dying. The POS is firing anyone who doesn't agree with him. He is taunting North Korea openly and they are taking the bait. There have been three major hurricanes in the South and a big earthquake in Mexico with two strong aftershocks.

My only  question is: Where are the locusts? Raised by a Pentecostal woman, I cannot help but anticipate the second coming of Christ. I'm sure evangelicals are having a field day as we live out each chapter of Revelation in real time...

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