Great American Eclipse (Aug 19-22, 2017)

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stanley_id_coverConditions: small town rambling
Gear: camera gear
Map: Basin Butte, ID
Area: Stanley, Idaho
Reference: n/a

I've had the solar eclipse on my calendar for about a year. I wanted to find a way to be in the path of totality to view the event. Several months prior to the event a friend put the word out...head to her place in Stanley, Idaho. I checked with Steve and he was definitely interested. So I put in my request for a couple of days off at work and the planning started...

A few days prior to heading out of town came reports, almost exclusively from down in Oregon, or crowds, gridlocked roads, gas stations running out of gas... Yikes. Steve and I packed up a few extras into the car in case we got stranded or stuck on a road somewhere. Our fingers were crossed though...most of the gridlock in Oregon was on small two lane roads. We'd be on major interstates most of the way to Stanley, Idaho. Additionally, Oregon was much closer (about a 4 hour drive) to the path of totality in Oregon so we hoped most people were headed that way. Our trip to Stanley, Idaho was much longer (about 11 hours) and I gambled that most people from Seattle wouldn't do that drive. Besides...other than Boise, Stanley isn't really all that close to any urban centers. Stanely I learned, was actually one of the few true dark places in the continental US.

So packed up, Steve and I headed out early on Saturday morning. We were on the road about 6am. We hit some traffic just getting out of town. By the time we were out of the Tri-Cities area the traffic seemed normal. We made pretty good time. We hit Boise before rush hour and then headed north and we were in Stanley around 6:30pm.

Sunday came around and we had the day to wander around town. We took the 4Runner out onto some of the local FS roads. We thought about heading up to Basin Butte LO which seemed to be an interesting destination but decided against it. That could wait until after the eclipse.

Stanley is a nice small mountain town. It would be awesome to have a place here. It was absolutely amazing than Jen extended an invite to us to stay at her place. The company and hospitality was unbeatable. In the afternoon I played around a bit with my camera setup. Mainly, I wanted to see how the solar filter I had bought would work out. Seemed simple enough. We looked at a small rise near Jen's cabin as an ideal place. Later that evening, much later, the Boise Astronomical Society had set up camp on the grounds of the school nearby. Amateur astronomers had their telescopes set up. Our group walked up there and got to take turns at all the stations taking a peak at what the telescopes were pointed at. Nebula, Saturn, was pretty darned cool.

Finally, Monday arrived. The eclipse started at about 10:30am so we were all out watching. I had the big camera set up on a tripod with the solar filter on the end of the 400mm lens. I had that camera set up with a programmable timer. For about 2.5 hours I had the camera taking a photo every two seconds. I'd occasionally have to reframe the sun in the viewfinder as it rose in the late morning sky. I had a smaller camera, also with a programmable timer, set up nearby that was taking a time lapse of the Stanley Valley.

I have to say the eclipse was one of the most amazing events I've ever witnessed. I had heard that it was worth making the extra trip to get under the path of totality and I have to agree. I'm so glad we made this trip. It was chilling, primal, amazing, and breathtaking all at the same time. Once the event became a total eclipse I couldn't find the sun in my viewfinder. I was so focused on the event that I had forgot to take the solar filter off my lens! I scrambled, got it removed, and resumed the photo taking. I managed to catch the diamond ring. Those in Stanley were amazing. At totality the entire Stanely Valley erupted into a loud cheer. We were all one...this was our event. Given some of the craziness going on in the world and national politics today...that was all forgotten. Today it was all about the eclipse. At peak, local temps dropped about 20 degrees! I was able to continue taking photos until the sun was about 3/4 full at the tail end of the eclipse. I was only stopped because I ran out of memory!

After the eclipse, our group just couldn't stop talking about how amazing the event was. We talked about trying to get together as a group again in 2024. We all agreed it would be well worth the trip!

After the eclipse Steve and I headed out in the 4Runner. The plan was to drive up to Basin Butte Lookout. It was an interesting drive since the LO is at 8,854'! We had heard the lookout was recently restored (2008). The LO itself was built in 1934. The LO was locked and shuttered. We were able to walk the catwalk around the lookout. Steve had fun driving the rig back down the sometimes steep road back down to Jen's place.

Tuesday finally arrived, time to leave. We had a long drive ahead. The car was packed up the night before so after sorting out some last minute gear and double checking to make sure everything was packed, it was time to head out. Steve was again driving most of the way home. It was Tuesday and traffic was definitely heavier than when we left town on Saturday. We stopped in Granger, WA for gas and saw the cement dinosaurs next to the gas station. Steve asked what the heck was up with it. I didn't know. Then we stopped a second one so we headed over there to check it out. There was a sign nearby...there were dinosaurs all over the small town. Steve wanted to check them out, it was a fun diversion and helped break up the drive home. We had a lot of fun taking photos with the dinos...until I got really hot. This summer has been really, really warm and I just don't handle heat that well. Eventually we were back on the road and finished up the drive to Seattle.

Photos posted right now are mostly of the before and after eclipse. There is one time lapse of the Stanely Basin where I was trying to catch a glimpse of the shadow crossing the basin. I'm still working the actual eclipse photos...hopefully I got those posted sometime before the end of the year :)
Pre and Post Eclipse Slideshow
Great American Eclipse Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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