Sunday, September 10, 2017

The eclipse




“My Moon Moving Experience”

            GRANDVIEW, WA – Back in March, Kay got us motel reservations at a place right in the path of last week’s total eclipse. Every hotel, B&B, rent house, doghouse, outhouse… had already jacked their prices way up there. But due to her due diligence, sticktoativeness, and true grit, Kay managed to find a room for under $200 in a small town outside of Nashville.
            That was back in March. Some of you may recall that since then, the forces that be (Kay) set in motion a scheme that put us here in Washington to wait out the completion of a new house in Conroe. So, stay with me here, instead of driving 800 miles from Texas to Tennessee to reach our reserved room, we would have to travel 2400 miles from Washington to Tennessee.
The question we had to ask ourselves was, “Considering the center path of the total eclipse was now 186 miles south of us, was a 2400 mile-drive to Ruby Jewel’s B&B worth the time, effort and expense?” 
A change of plans is no big deal for a person who is flexible as all get out. (Mark) You cancel the Tennessee reservations and make new reservations for a hotel in Oregon. – Excuse me just a second. – Sorry, I just lost it for a moment. Where was I? Oh, yeah, hotel reservations in Oregon. I’m here to tell you that pandemonium took a two week stop in the Northwest during this entire eclipse thing.
More than a few motels actually cancelled reservations for those who had reserved rooms months in advance and then resold the rooms at 20 times the original price. There is fine print that allowed some managers to do that legally, but many decided that any backlash from their illegal actions would be worth the added revenue.
            Farmers turned their recently harvested fields into campgrounds. Tent-sized plots were going for $25 to $300. No water, roads or other amenities were provided. I take that back. I did see a few port-a-potties in one area. Regardless, the hillsides were packed.
            I heard the story from Bend, Oregon about a guy who lived on a cul-de-sac and leased spots in his driveway for people to spend the night in their cars. I’m assuming all of the 24 hour Wal-Mart parking lots were full. All over the state, gasoline was in short supply. Prices at restaurants and greasy spoons shot way up there. Ruby Jewel’s was looking much better. 
Not to worry, Kay and I would switch to Plan B. A few hours before the eclipse, we would drive into Oregon, see the eclipse and then turn around and drive back. Easy peasy… and just as stupid as it could be.  
The news out of Oregon was that 30 mile long traffic jams were stopping traffic in all directions, and this was three days before the eclipse! Oregon state troopers said there would be no parking on the shoulder of the roads or on the grass. Vehicles on the shoulder would impede emergency vehicle access. Cars on the grass might start grass fires.
            Plan C:  Stay in Grandview and view the 97% eclipse. How big a deal can three percent sunlight be? Kay managed to order 20 pair of eclipse glasses in preparation for the viewing. That was two too few for all of the Washington family that showed up. Hey, you get bed, breakfast, lunch and supper, a restroom, shower and an above ground swimming pool. It’s party time!
            Turns out, we had the best time ever. Apparently, during a solar eclipse people get a little ditzy. I don’t remember if what was being said was all that funny, but we sure did laugh a lot. The things you can do with a pair of blinding glasses. You can play “Guess who just pinched you.” – “Catch the apple.” – “Name what you just ate.”
            During all the fun, we found it necessary to assign one adult as the designated child observer. – “No, no, hold the glasses horizontally! Put ‘em across your nose and use both lenses. And, no, we don’t play who-can-look-at-the-sun-the-longest-without-the-safety glasses. Uncle Mark, I expected better of you.”
            After the eclipse died away, four-year-old Bella asked if it was okay to now look at the sun without the glasses. This inspired some nitwit to respond, “Wait a minute. Were we supposed to use glasses?” Again I got yelled at.
            That night, PBS had a special on the total eclipse. The testimonies of those who witnessed the event were awe inspiring. “You can’t exaggerate the wonderfulness of the experience.” – “I cried. I really did.” – “Everyone must see it at least once. It will change you forever.”
            You know what would change me forever? The thought that I once paid $4200 for two nights at the Clean Beds Inn in Felltree, Oregon, or had to pay a $250 ticket for parking on the shoulder of highway 97 in Oregon, and another $375 for wetting on the shoulder of the road while pretending to check the oil.  
            No question, it was sad to be that close to a total eclipse without getting to see it. If I’m still around in 2024, I’ll get another chance as another total eclipse heads on a path through Austin, Waco, Dallas and Texarkana. You ask me, between now and then, you might want to flip a house in Waco and rent it, the front and back yards, and the driveway to the people from Oregon who will flock down here to see it.
end
 You can contact Mark at hayter.mark@gmail.com.

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