A month or two before the eclipse I started looking for hotels to stay at for the eclipse. My first choice was to go to Bend or the John Day area in Oregon for the eclipse but everything was booked up. Those locations were well within the path of totality. I started looking along the edges of the path and noticed Eugene was close. I booked a hotel there easily.

This was the path through the United States.

This is the path of totality in Washington and Oregon.

Here is where we ended up viewing the eclipse.

Fast forward a few weeks and the media starts to predict massive traffic jams and scalping to happen during the eclipse as everyone traveled into areas along the path. Couple that with the fact that Norther California and Oregon were experiencing severe wild files and the smoke was bloating out the skies in Oregon. I nearly didn’t go. I decided to invite my friend Luke along for company and also to keep me from not going.

We drove up on Saturday trying to avoid the crowds and have a day to try and scout out a location to shoot from. San Francisco is a good days drive to Eugene but not terrible. We got up to the Sacramento area and started picking up heavy traffic. It wasn’t as bad as the media had been reporting a few days earlier that was going to a festival in Bend, but it was heavy. It was lunch time as we got to the Redding area and I was tired of the traffic and was seeing the smoke get heavier as we moved north.

We pulled out in Redding to get some lunch and take a break. The restaurants were crowded with people doing the same thing so a quick lunch was out of the question. Maybe an hour later we finished up. Maybe I was hungry as I was really considering going home because of the traffic and the smoke. After lunch I was renewed and we pushed on. For whatever reason the traffic had let up considerably so the drive was more enjoyable.

Smoke was still bad as we drove up. We drove past Mount Shasta and could not see it from the highway. This is a very prominent feature so it was surprising to not see it. As we got closer to Oregon and finally started to cross into the state things started to clear up nicely and as we got to the hotel in Eugene we had a nice sunset.

Sunday morning we wet out to scout locations. We went up to Irish Bend area to check out the location. This was a nice area but nothing special photographically. There was a small parking lot that could fill up quickly if we were not there early. From there we headed over to the Cascade State Park area. It was a much longer drive from the hotel but I was hoping for something more interesting to use in our images.

We stopped in several different places and just explored the area. On the way we did pass an area that was being used for a large RV camp. I don’t think there was anything in particular going on, other than it was a location that had visibility and lots of space to park. We returned to the hotel and decided we would go to Irish Bend to shoot the next morning.

We got up early and were on the road about 7am. The eclipse would reach totality around 11am. There was a bit of sunrise color as we left the hotel. As the sun came up more we could see there was a fair amount of smoke in the sky. There was enough smoke that you could look at the sun and not have to look away. That was discouraging but it was early.

We got to the parking lot and were surprised to find several cars there already along with several families setting up on the beach. We had to adjust where we had planned to shoot from initially and the new location worked out well. The park stayed pretty quiet for awhile until people started beaching their kayaks on the beach. We didn’t know that Paddle Oregon was going on and passed in front of this beach.

Paddle Oregon setup a tent to serve breakfast here and contracted to have live music performed by a cello player. This brought a lot of people to the beach and a few support vehicles for the catering.

During the whole eclipse we were serenaded with this cello music from Gideon Freudmann

Luke is a Nikon shooter and rented a long lens for the occasion. I shoot Canon and brought a couple of different cameras and lenses to shoot with. I brought a camera with 600mm + 1.4 tele-extender to shoot individual images, another camera with a 24-105 to shoot intervals to stack a sequence with and a GoPro setup to do a time lapse of the eclipse and activities. Turns out that wasn’t enough cameras, I should have brought another camera to shoot stills during the actual eclipse. My cellphone was shooting in automatic mode so it adjusted the settings and made the images during totality look like they were daylight images. Same thing happened with the GoPro and the time lapse.

These are the stars and planets that were visible during totality.

The eclipse finished around 1pm. Luke and I decided to avoid the traffic and head out to the coast. We spent the afternoon exploring and shooting out there before we headed back to the hotel.

We returned home on Tuesday. All the way up through California interstate 5 had their sign boards displaying messages about expecting massive traffic jams coming home. I’m not sure if that happened Monday afternoon or not, but Tuesday was smooth sailing except for one place where there was construction along the way that backed things up.

April 8, 2024 is the next total eclipse in the United States. This one will start in Texas and go through Ohio end up in Maine. Currently I have friends in all three of those states, hopefully they will still be there in 2024.

Notes to self:

  • Remember the extra camera to shoot with during totality
  • Do take the time to remove the solar filter to shoot Baily’s beads

This is the time lapse from the GoPro camera.