Were you stuck here in Portland for the eclipse? Did you feel like you may have "really missed out" due to all the hyperventilating news coverage? Are you wondering if your eclipse experience was somehow less than those who experienced it in totality? READ ON BECAUSE I'M ABOUT TO MAKE YOU FEEL A LOT BETTER.
So completely by accident I booked a campsite at Cape Lookout a year ago in complete ignorance about this eclipse thing. My fellow campers were in a dither over the eclipse, and were hyped up to take a quick 20 minute drive down to Sand Lake (in the totality zone) to view it... even though we'd see probably 99.99999999999999 percent of the eclipse from where we were. Also this evocative essay by Annie Dillard about the life-changing effects of seeing a total eclipse wasn't helping matters. BUT WHAT THE FAWK, RIGHT? So we pile into the car and drive the 20 minutes to Sand Lake to check out all the hot totality action.
There was a pretty large group at the Sand Lake recreational park when we arrived, and there was about 45 minutes of just standing around waiting for something to happen. Snore. BUT THEN A MIRACLE PRE-SHOW EVENT OCCURRED. A little yappy Chow dog broke out of its leash and was running around biting people INCLUDING THE PARK RANGER who was screaming, "Get that damn dog on a leash!" as the owner helplessly tried to grab the very spritely hound. Numerous times she almost had him, only for him to slip away again at the last second. (Hilarious!) Adding to the entertainment was a man who'd brought along his pet cat to view the eclipse (?), and he was also screaming at the dog's owner, "Do not let your dog attack my cat!", as if anyone involved had any choice in the matter. Eventually I got bored with this person chasing her dog and the dog chasing other people (and the dog chasing the cat), so I walked up and gave the owner a piece of beef jerky and said, "Try this." She caught him within 15 seconds.
Then the eclipse happened. It got pretty dark (not super dark), noticeably colder, and the animals began acting a bit strange: birds were swooping, fish were jumping en masse in the lake, and that yappy Chow was ABSOLUTELY SILENT. Then it was over in two minutes, and the entire group left in an orderly fashion thanks to the traffic-directing skills of the annoyed park ranger who was still muttering and rubbing his bitten ankle.
And so that was the eclipse—which was OKAY. Am I glad I saw it? Sure, it was memorable... but it was that delightful ankle-biting Chow that made the day unforgettable.
Psst! Speaking of spoiled rotten pets, be sure to vote in the final rounds of the Mercury's "Cutest Pet in Portland" photo contest!