Chaos Attraction

Ring Of Fire

2012-05-20, 1:45 p.m.

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(a.k.a. "Fun With A Rental Car, Day 3")

So today was the looooong trip up to Redding (about 2.5 hours from here) to watch the eclipse. And it went well. I had one "oops, didn't see that car in the dark" moment going home late at night, but otherwise everything was totally fine, no injuries, nothing. Huzzah! We had lunch at Granzella's in Williams, which is a cute place to stop by and has tons of food and stores if you want to check it out sometime. It's a favorite of Dawn's. Then we headed up to Redding--though since there was some 4-car accident ahead of us at one point, we didn't get there till around 4 p.m. I spent a lot of time bouncing back and forth between the 2 lanes of freeway, trying to figure out which one was the least offensive to other human beings because I drive at the speed limit (shut up, if you'd taken as long as you did to get a license you'd make darned sure to not risk it for anything). I'd normally prefer to drive in the right lane, but what with the slow giant trucks and all, sometimes you just have to spend time in the fast lane...where people were still annoyed at me frequently. Oh well...as long as I don't hit anyone, right?

We watched the eclipse at Turtle Bay, which was a good spot to do it at. In the hour-ish before the eclipse, we took a brief tour of the place, fed some birds (soooo cute), looked at some other birds and fish, and went through their garden area. They were selling eclipse glasses there, and some folks had telescopes or the various weird ways to watch an eclipse by using pieces of paper and silhouettes and stuff like that. There were some folks staked out on the Sundial Bridge, a lot were parked on the far end of it. We went farther out to a picnic table area with some shade, where Dawn pointed out that you could see the silhouette of the eclipse in the trees. I don't have pictures because I read enough things online saying "DON'T use your binoculars or phone to look at/take pictures of the eclipse unless you have special filters! It will ruin your camera!" and I didn't want to risk it. But here are some shots other folks too.

So, what was it like to watch the full-on eclipse, for those of you not there? Well, we had eclipse glasses, which when you put them on are FULL DARK except for when you look at the sun, which looked like a bright orange pumpkin with a chunk taken out of it. And yet, despite the eclipse taking place during daylight, it was still full on bright everywhere else. Even if you were able to stare directly at the sun for long periods of time without glasses, you probably wouldn't have been able to tell there was an eclipse going on because it was still so bright you couldn't see it without glasses. Between 5-6 p.m. you could see a gradual chunk being taken out of the moon, going from a thick crescent to a thinner one. We kept walking around looking at the gardens and finding a place to park for the first hour, but we'd stop for brief "eclipse break" moments to look at how far it had gotten. Between 6-7 we parked at a semi-shady location off another bridge, where Dawn could check the trees and not like, boil in the direct heat. We snacked on fruit while watching the eclipse more often, and around 6:30, it finally culminated in the perfect ring of fire, where the moon blocked most of the sun except for the edges. It looked awesome, and people cheered and clapped when it hit the sweet spot. I started singing "Ring Of Fire."

Between 6:35-7:30ish, the eclipse went in the other direction, and a lot of people packed up to drive home. I heard folks drove in from San Diego and Seattle just to come to this location. We finished eating the fruit and watched for awhile longer, before the clouds finally rolled in and we couldn't see it any more. Luckily, the clouds held off until the show was over.

We ended up leaving around 8 p.m., which of course meant that there was a long drive home. Thank goodness I didn't get sleepy while driving. I drank a Coke at lunch, but otherwise never did need to raid the Mountain Dew stash I'd brought. Other than the near-miss--and Dawn pointing out that I should wait until I see someone's headlights behind me before I go back into the other lane, good point--it was fine. I'm not overly fond of trying to figure out how many cars are behind me and how angry they are in the dark, but what can you do, and it could be worse. (And if I ever move, it will be.) I got home after 10:30 at night, which is a pretty reasonable time to get back under the circumstances. I was figuring more like 11-midnight, so I was pleased.

It was a lovely day, and Dawn and I are talking about doing other trips elsewhere in higher NorCal.


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