Those trips that are meant to be? This was one of those. When I started reading about the eclipse I got more and more intrigued, and more and more excited about the magic of it. I felt drawn to experiencing the Totality with my family in a significant way, but with every new discovery came another article explaining ALL the barriers. The $1000 a night Motel5 prices, the overbooked campsites, the traffic expected, and a whole lot of “Bellingham will be at 93% so what’s the difference really?” and I began to wonder.. . How can this work? Can we really get there? Turns out, as I was mulling this over, so were a big number of my close friends. And them? CONNECTIONS.
We lucked out hugely that a friend had family with a big farm and lots of property to camp on, a campsite for the night before that another friend had booked and ended up not needing, and a whole crew of people to share the food responsibilities with who are all my nearest and dearest with the best kids ever. And so, the Great Eclipse Road Trip was born.
Along with the whole sleeping accommodations working out so well, my sweet family and I got to take a Mazda CX-9 on this road trip and HOLY WHOA is was so nice! We listened to Satellite Radio the whole ride down, and waking up nice and cozy with the sunrise to an all acoustic station was just ideal.
We got up at 4am and hit the road, caravanning with buddies, on the road by 5am. We all expected immense traffic – instead? We flew through Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia and were in Portland before 10am! The Mazda has an incredible cruise control where I not only set the speed but the distance I wanted to keep from other cars and it automatically slowed me down/sped me up to keep a safe distance. . . so basically a robot drove the car and it was ridiculous. The future is now, friends.
Our girls were troopers and we were able to only stop twice on the way to Portland. I hadn’t been there in years and this was our kiddos first time. We hit up the farmers’ market, VooDoo Donuts(OMG the vegan crème filled were out.of.this.world.) and walked all around down town. It was a short stop on our trip, but we are now dedicated to planning a longer exploration in Portland in the Winter because we were left wanting so much more!
Here is a very paired down (can you believe it?) selection of the fun we had on our half day in Portland:
After Portland we backtracked about 20 minutes to Battle Ground State Park. It was a perfect landing spot. We camped on a gorgeous site within the woods and the kiddos explored for hours making Fairy Houses. Our dear friends doubled up on the site with us and that made for one big, kid-filled, roving band of fun. We will for sure be back to this site soon!
Camping has been our go-to this summer (but we do have one more fun Hotel trip planned that we’re all counting down the days till!) and we’re getting pretty good at it! Here is our camping list if you’re in need of some help!
We loaded the Mazda back up (it held all our camping, road tripping, and adventuring gear no problem!) and hit the road out to Dallas (not the Dalles!) Oregon to get into the Path of Totality and camp another night in prep of the Eclipse on Monday.
We arrived at a 100+ year old Farm House on roughly 80 acres of land (!). Hiking our stuff down about a quarter of a mile to a clearing on a little bluff above the river, we camped with quite the crew.
Around a bend was a path down to the river where we easily passed a day swimming, hiking around, and catching crawfish (and then immediately releasing them, because my kiddos are vegans at heart, and so is their mama).
They floated around, made more fairy houses, and slept heavy and hard that night. All the adults stayed up and laid on our backs seeing the black sky full to the brim with twinkling stars (did you know, outside of the city and light pollution, stars really, really, twinkle??) and an incredible view of the Milky Way. It was Charlie and I’s first time seeing it, and good gracious, it was worth the hours just to see that.
The next morning we all woke up buzzing with so much excitement about what was about to come. The eclipse! We packed up tents, food, and gear, and laid out blankets and chairs. Snagged our glasses and sat while the sun was blazing. It was bizarre to feel the temperate drop slowly and steadily throughout the morning. At 9am the animals stopped making sounds, birds ceased to chirp, and the light was like strange studio lighting. The golden hour of sunset came around 9:30am and we all felt the heaviness of this moment.
As the moon crept across the sun we all watched in amazement through our glasses. Catching all the strange crescent shadows through trees and colanders. And then, seemingly suddenly, the sky went from golden to purple to black.
It was night. In an instant. And you could see planets. And stars. I began to cry immediately. With the weight of the moon. The heaviness in the air. And the pure wonder on my girls’ faces as they were snuggled into Charlie and I. I cannot believe that we got to experience this together.
I know it isn’t quite ‘once in a lifetime’, but it’s once that my children will be in a brain space of total wonder, abandon, and belief in magic. It’s once that they’ll be small enough to snuggle me while we experience a natural phenomenon that confirms to me magic, science, and God all in one two minute event. It felt very important. And that feeling has stuck to me since.
After the Eclipse we all hung around a bit. . . it was strange to move on. In a way I’m almost thankful for the 16 hour drive home (whoa, right? Thank God we were in a comfy car!) because it gave me time to actually digest and assimilate such a life altering experience. I had hours on the road where all I could hear was my snoring family, and see the nod’s from fellow driving parents all around me in the 1am hour. Looking around the parking-lot-like-freeway I got thumbs up, waves, peace signs, and the same tired faces I was reflecting back. We’d experienced something. And that something was worth the tired and traffic to get to have been there.
It took a bit more than 4 hours to make it the 40 miles from Dallas to Portland. We stopped at 7 pm there to stretch out, eat a huge dinner, and then hit the road for bedtime. The girlies slept and I podcast listened between chats with Charlie.
We pulled back into our sweet little home around 4am. I sighed a huge sigh, turned off the car, and just sat a moment hearing all my family breathing deep in unison. Thankful for a safe adventure. For an experience that I will hold close my whole life long. An adventure my daughters will remember forever. And something that united so many people under science and magic at a time we desperately needed uniting. Thinking about how many people across our nation were all looking up, eyes wonder filled and mouths agape, all for the same reason. . . that heaviness and gift fills me up every time I think of it.
A big thanks to Mazda and DriveShop for letting our family review this super sweet car. I received the car to review for a week for free. But as always all reviews and opinions are my own! And? We’re all in love! The third row made for a stellar last week of Summer, driving friends around for beach days and adventures. And the car fit our big ol’ 5 point harnesses (yes, both girls are still in them, haha) perfectly with extra room to spare!