It's been a momentous week! The first total eclipse within driving distance from me in my lifetime. A year ago my Dad called me to ask if I wanted to road-trip with him down to Oregon to see it in totality. I was excited about the idea. So after a whole year of planning, we drove down last Sunday through Portland to Madras.
I am so grateful for the community of Madras, OR! They didn't ask for 100,000 people to descend upon them all at once to see this astrological event but they took on the hospitality of the situation completely. Everyone was helping. From the teens directing traffic to the local medical community taking shifts on a mobile med unit. Local mechanics were available to jump cars and provide roadside assistance and The National Guard helped to keep traffic moving in the right directions.
There were more people (and their cars) in attendance than I have ever seen at any major event before with little permanent infrastructure to support that many people. Cell towers on wheels provided extra coverage and it was amazing that calls were getting through with that much strain on the system. Extra doctors and nurses provided more medical assistance at the local hospital. That was wonderful foresight as there were several traffic accidents on Monday since most of those 100,000 people hit the road at once after the eclipse.
As with any well-planned event of this size, there were some issues and some shortfalls, yet the people of Madras maintained their friendly hospitality through it all. I am astounded at how well the system worked. I met several people in their official capacity during our two-day stay and all of them treated my Dad and me with grace, respect, and friendliness. I cannot thank the people of Madras enough! What a blessing to have witnessed this gift of their town to so many.
I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to see and experience a total eclipse! And even more so because I was able to do so with my Dad. The eclipse itself was a powerful and visceral experience. As the moon covered the sun, I began to feel the temperature drop and my stomach started to have butterflies. But that moment when the sun dipped behind the moon entirely was a moment of pure terror, excitement, joy, and wonder all at once. I felt deep in my bones that having night at in the middle of the morning was WRONG. It felt so eerie. Yet, it was incredibly beautiful!! Standing in the middle of a field I could turn in all directions and see purple and pink mountains on the horizon. It was like seeing the most beautiful sunset but it completely surrounded us. 360 degrees of pure stunning beauty!
In that moment the people we were experiencing this incredible phenomenon with suddenly became bonded to us. We experienced something beyond words, photos, and videos together. Something no one else can truly understand. Then the sun returned to its rightful place in the sky and I was again filled with emotion. Gratitude, relief, wonder, and a touch of disappointment that it was over.
I am grateful for Alice, Don, and Lou for sharing this with my Dad and me. Lou graciously allowed me to use one of his photographs for this post. I am grateful for Madras, for the community there, and for the experience of the eclipse! I have an indelible memory I will cherish forever now. Thank you!
"We read a lot about it and kind of know what to expect but when it came it was indescribable. There are no words that can fully describe what you experience.” — Mia Li of New Jersey, who was watching in Columbia.