Eclipse packing

Tuesday, 25th July 2017; 9:18 am

Every road trip is unique, and requires a little different stuff to pack. So even though I’ve done trips like this one before, the packing list for my Kentucky eclipse ride requires a little tweaking.

Ironically, because this trip is shorter than most of my previous ones – only five days on the road – it requires packing more clothes. That’s because I won’t be doing laundry at the halfway point. I mean, I could do laundry, but dropping just two t-shirts, two sets of underwear, and a pair of pants into a laundromat washer/dryer steps over the threshold of absurdity. So I’m packing a full set of four days’ shirts and undies; and as usual, two pair of long pants, to alternate.

I’m bringing more photo gear than usual: at the least adding my spare digital camera and a tripod. I almost never do tripod-based still photography, and my tripod went missing ages ago. I have a hiking stick with a camera mount on the end which I use occasionally as a monopod, but that’s useless for this. Hypothetically I could take eclipse pictures without a tripod, but I’ll be zooming in pretty hard, and camera shake gets to be a problem. So I’ll have to pick one up somewhere, maybe at Grand Rapids’ last surviving camera shop.

I’m also thinking of bringing a pair of binoculars for direct viewing of the total eclipse. A camera viewfinder just isn’t the same, especially a digital one. I don’t have binoculars either, so I’ll have to get my hands on a set.

And there’s eclipse-viewing glasses. For the last eclipse I viewed, back in 8th grade, I used overexposed film negatives, which worked well enough. The “opaque” black visor of my helmet actually works pretty well as a sun-viewing filter: I often see the disk of the sun through it when I’m riding. But it’s kind of hazy, and a little awkward to look through. A pair of filters I can just perch on the front of my face would be more ideal.

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