The sweet sleepy town of Madras, Oregon (population 5,700) has been transformed as nearly 200,000 people from all over the world arrive to experience Nature’s big show. When we arrived on Friday the streets were wide open and restaurants with special limited menus were wondering where the predicted eclipse chasers were hiding.
Today we are feeling the frenzy! We spent the morning at the Oregon Solarfest on the Jefferson County Fairgrounds and were treated to talks by NASA solar scientists, views through specialized solar telescopes and chats with fellow space geeks! We loved all the creative Tshirts that fellow eclipse chasers were sporting. Streets were bumper to bumper in the center of Madras. Cheery entrepreneurs were on every corner with eclipse themed merchandise. Shop owners were selling out of eclipse glasses, magnets, soaps, post cards, jewelry and so much more!This small central Oregon town that has painstakingly planned for every possible scenario is realizing what it had anticipated today. We are grateful for their creativity and hospitality!!After driving north bumper to bumper with the happiest traffic bound crowd I’ve ever witnessed, we are now settled in to our tiny two man tent sandwiched between serious ” glampers” on the front row of the eclipse in Solartown. “Solartown” is a farmer’s field that sits right on the centerline of the path of totality just north of the Madras town center. The field is now an ocean of over 6,000 tents and RVs filled with excited wannabes and real astronomers. Some of the campsite telescopes are huge! Kind, real astronomers are allowing us wannabes to observe our sun in its full disc glory. We stared in awe at a whole cluster of sun spots and even a solar prominence! Beautiful snow capped Mount Jefferson looms in the background of our campsite and Mount Hood stands out across an alfalfa field looking north. The stunning eclipse eve sunset brought truly Madras colored skies and was a perfect preview for tomorrow’s main feature.
Tomorrow morning we plan to wake up for sunrise and share coffee with our new forever eclipse friends… Kay and Beverly camped on our right and Marek, Amirah and Stephen to our left. Our camp chairs are already in position facing east over the green field. Our colanders, eclipse glasses, and pinhole projectors are at the ready….. Clear skies!!!