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Editor’s Note: Our first eNewsletter Club of the Quarter is a joint honor, featuring FF of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley and FF Columbia Cascade, USA, with their fantastic program and effort in hosting an eclipse-themed Journey in August 2017. Thanks to members Marilyn Peterson and Rita Powell for writing the story about the adventure below!
Moonfall Over Oregon: A Global Journey
Hosted by the Friendship Force of Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley and the Columbia Cascade Friendship Force club
August 16-25, 2017
What began as a way to share the Great American Solar Eclipse with the world turned into an adventure for the planners as well due to the large number of anticipated visitors to Oregon for the 2017 eclipse. Every event planned by Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley Host Coordinators, Marilyn Peterson, Mary Ellen Lind, and Dennis Murphy had to be changed in some respect, whether it was the time, date, or even menu. Nineteen ambassadors from several US states and Canada participated in this Journey, arriving on August 16, and staying in the Salem/Corvallis/Albany, Oregon area until the day of the eclipse.
During the Journey, the ambassadors experienced both the urban and the rural Oregon. Tony Farque, Forest Service Archaeologist, led a hike to visit petroglyphs and members of the Kalapuya tribe shared the art of stone knapping.
A visit to the Thyme Garden near Alsea, Oregon included a guided tramp in the herb garden and the fish restoration area. Salmon and Steelheadnow spawn in the stream on the property. A progressive dinner allowed the guests to meet more club members and visit different homes.
About two months before the eclipse date, August 21, the state emergency services, the media, and other governmental agencies became increasingly concerned about the anticipated 1 or so million people coming to Oregon (population about 4 million), confined to a 65 mile wide stripe (path of totality) across the state. Concerns about traffic, possible cell or power outages, and wildfires caused both clubs to reconsider the Journey’s plans. When we tried to get a second portable toilet for our group’s eclipse party and were unable to do so, we decided to change the plans.
Why not have a sleepover the night before the eclipse so no one has to travel on the morning of the eclipse to our viewing site? Ted and Rita Powell’s home was the perfect viewing and sleepover site. Tents were pitched, the equipment barn and living room floor became the slumber party venue. Ted and Rita prepared breakfast burritos for about 60 people beginning at 6:30 am.
Even the weather cooperated for this spectacular event. The sky had been very smoky for several days due to forest fires, but the morning of August 21 was a beautiful sunny day. Perfect eclipse weather. Over 70 people participated in the watch party, which was followed by a spaghetti dinner prepared by the Powells and the Columbia Cascade hosts.
Totality is indescribable. Watching the corona appear, seeing stars and planets during the day, the 360 degree sunset, seeing shadows with crescent sun cutouts was an amazing experience for all. But, the Journey was not over yet!
After viewing the eclipse, the ambassadors and their Columbia Cascade hosts traveled home to the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area for the remainder of the Journey. The traffic was as bad as expected, and Host Coordinator, Laural Engeman reported it took over twice the usual time to return home.
The next morning, the ambassadors boarded a bus for a trip to the iconic Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, visiting Bonneville dam and fish hatchery with a stop at Multnomah Falls. Using Portland’s famous mass transit system, the ambassadors visited Powell’s Bookstore, the Portland Art Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry, and dined at a food cart pod.
The Journey concluded with a bus trip to Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose and the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum followed by wine tasting and a Farewell Dinner. New friends, shared memories, a total solar eclipse, an unforgettable Friendship Force sleepover – what a wonderful Journey!