Archive for August, 2017

Day rides in 2017

Thursday, 24th August 2017; 9:40 am

When I got it into my head to ride the scooter down through Indiana to Kentucky for the eclipse, I set aside my plans for doing day rides around here. After canceling the scooter part of the eclipse trip, I’m back to planning to do a couple more rides. You know… MI way: in Michigan.

The next ride will be northward, probably to up around Idlewild and back. Then I may try doing a two-day ride, and spend some daytime at Ludington State Park (where I’ve usually just spent the night), but I’d have to coordinate that with the new job. (It’s only 20 hours a week, but not on my own schedule.)

(There’s also another eclipse coming in seven years. This one will pass closer to home – northwest Ohio – which should be easily reachable by scooter.)

Night: the real kind

Tuesday, 22nd August 2017; 10:10 am

Clouds started to develop as the afternoon progressed.  I noticed a few drops here and there, but not rain yet. Tha last forecast I checked (shoulda done that one of the times I had a cell signal) said rain was likely to start shortly after dawn. I’ll prepare the camp for rain – really easy with a car – just in case. 

The temperature has cooled since this afternoon, enough that I expect I’ll need to crawl into the sleeping bag sooner than last night. I took a shower to clean off, but it was too hot to cool me off, so I’m back to sitting at the campsite with my shirt off, waiting to stop sweating. 

As for tomorrow: I’ll wake up, put on clothes, pack the tent, and hit the road. If it’s raining I’ll just throw the tent in the car instead. 

I do have to say that car camping has definite advantages over scooter camping. Instead of a tiny space under the seat that’s nature-proof, the whole car is. And you can toss in almost anything you might need… such as a bicycle (which I’ve used twice) or a gallon of spare gas (which I haven’t). And the main reason I brought the car: weatherproof travel tomorrow. 

An owl just hooted, then flew overhead. Just barely saw it in the gloom. It’s only 8pm local time, but that’s because they’re on Central. I’m about ready for an early bed, and an early start tomorrow. 

And at 8:45 Central, I hear thunder and it starts to sprinkle. 


Tuesday, 22nd August 2017; 10:07 am

I got back to camp from the Zone of Totality without much trouble. I took more major roads, and thus encountered more traffic. There were a few spots you might call a traffic jam, but they kept moving and didn’t last long. Once I got to the smaller roads there were still lines of cars all going in the same direction. 

At one point I crossed an overpass for the Western Kentucky Pikeway or something, and there was a real traffic jam on that going east. It makes sense that the worst jams would be after the eclipse, because most people are going leave as soon as it’s over, compared to people arriving on-time/early/super-early/days-before/etc. 

I got to the state park with a bit of daylight left, which I used to explore it by bicycle. There’s Lincoln Lake which has a beach and rowboat rentals. There’s also an amphitheater, which expected to be wooden benches for 50 people, but turned out to be a real concert venue… assuming that “real” includes Jimmy Buffett, Guns n Roses, Led Zeppelin, Billy Joel, and Beatles… tribute bands. And the real Grand Funk Railroad and Mitch Ryder. 

Looking back on the eclipse, I do have a few regrets. The most obvious is that I screwed up and forgot to take the solar filter off my “video” camera. I’d set my old camera on a tripod in video mode and started recording shortly before totality. I wanted to get both the cover-up and the corona, but with the filter still on, the camera was blind until the sun came back out. 

I also wish I’d brought a proper DSLR. The autofocus on my good camera flaked out, especially just before/after and during totality. The camera has manual override, but it’s difficult to use. Fighting with this detracted from the time I could spend just looking. But I did get a few good shots. Which don’t do it justice of course. 

Fortunately the time I spent looking at it was very memorable. Wow. The sky around the sun/moon was bluer than I expected. The corona was more delicate. 

Just before/after totality the sun took on a different character. Without looking at it I could tell it was like a point light source instead of a small disk. I can’t imagine how it seemed to ancients who didn’t understand what was happening. 

The third camera (my iPhone) performed as expected for the panorama of twilight all around during totality. I didn’t notice any change in the animal noises around me… there were insects buzzing in the area, but I was preoccupied I guess. 

I’m definitely going to catch the next one in the US in 2024. The closest it’ll pass is Toledo. 


Monday, 21st August 2017; 2:42 pm

I saw it!

I got pictures! (On the good camera, so I can’t upload them now. )

Crescent sun

Monday, 21st August 2017; 2:04 pm

The sun is shaped like a crescent now. And the full daylight is strangely dim. Wish I could photograph either with my phone. 

Waiting is the hardest part

Monday, 21st August 2017; 1:56 pm

The eclipse has started, and it’s cool to watch. Except that it’s hot out. I admit it: I have the car running, with the AC on. As long as I have it, I’ll use it.

It takes an hour and a half for the eclipse to go from a tiny nibble to totality. That’s a long wait in the middle of Kentucky with a feeble internet connection. Waiting for a 2.5 minute show.