|My office-mates and I model our eclipse glasses|
Afraid of being caught in the traffic nightmares, most folks in the Portland Metro area planned to take the day off work. The path of totality was about 40 miles to the south, so the expectation was that a huge amount of people would wake up and travel that direction Monday morning.
August 21st, the day of the big eclipse, I got up per normal and went to work. Not having the required protective glasses, I planned to just peek out the window when time came to see if things went dark. All the gloom and doom about traffic nightmares, and my commute was surprisingly easy. There was hardly anyone on the roads, and the light rail train nearly empty. Upon arrival at work, my friend Hollie asked if I'd join her outside to watch the eclipse. She happened to have an extra pair of eclipse glasses. Our office was a ghost town that day, so I decided why not?
|Huge crowd in Waterfront Park|
Hollie decided to walk 4 blocks to the Willamette River and stand on the Hawthorne Bridge, the closest open area to our office. The eclipse was supposed to start around 9:06 am so we planned to head down shortly thereafter. We invited Jake, one of our summer interns to join us (we were nearly the only three people at work that day).
In downtown Portland, the west bank of the Willamette River is lined by Waterfront Park, a wonderful green oasis in this dense urban environment. As we ascended the Hawthorne Bridge's ramp, I was amazed to see a huge crowd already gathered in the park. One local radio station had set up a sound system and was broadcasting lovely classical music.
|Lots of people on the Hawthorne Bridge|
The three of us donned our special glasses, looked up at the sun, and were astounded to see the eclipse already underway. The moon had begun to move over the sun, taking a small "bite" out of it. As things progressed, the sun began to look more and more like a pac-man. Jake tried to use his cell phone to take a photo through his glasses.
Totally unprepared for the day (and not planning to watch the eclipse) I hadn't even brought a camera with me, and had only my cell phone to document this event. Doh!
|More crowd scenes from Waterfront Park|
In between peeps of the rapidly shrinking sun through our glasses, we entertained ourselves watching the crowds. It was quite a mix in the park - office people sneaking a break from their jobs, families, street people, even one parks bureau employee who sat on a nearby gas meter to watch the show.
Around 10:15, the light started to dim. It seemed like an overcast day, but the sky was still clear. Very eerie! We noticed the street lights had illuminated, and passing vehicles had turned their headlights on. A cold wind began to blow across the bridge. It was kind of spooky.
|The streetlights came on!|
We gazed in wonder at the sky, totally amazed by what was happening. The moon now nearly covered the sun, it's light just a mere sliver. Although not in the path of totality, the eclipse in Portland was supposed to have 99.3% coverage.
After about two very short minutes, the moon began to move again, and the surrounding sky started lightening up. Some of the crowd in the park below applauded. And then as if there had been a signal, everyone began heading out of the park.
|Mt Hood silhouetted on the darkened skyline|
As Hollie, Jake and I walked back to our building, I noticed funny crescent-shaped shadows on the sidewalk. It wasn't until later, seeing photographs on Facebook, that I realized those shadows were the eclipsing sun filtered through the trees. Very cool phenomenon. Wish I would've thought to take a photo!
Although I initially pooh-poohed the whole eclipse thing, in the end I'm very glad to have taken the time to experience it. What a mesmerizing, unique, awesome natural event! Now I understand why it's such a big deal. Since the next total eclipse in the US passes right over Cincinnati, where one of my brothers lives, I may just have to go check it out.
Thanks Hollie for getting me out of the office!