The complete traffic gridlock expected by Oregon transportation officials never materialized Aug. 21, leaving local residents the chance to enjoy the experience of a total eclipse of the sun by driving just south of Oregon City.
Oak Grove residents Jon Blackmon and his daughter Joan Marie, 8, viewed the total eclipse near Clarkes, Oregon. Joan Marie, who will be attending third grade at Beavercreek's Grand View Baptist Church this fall, best liked when the moon had taken a chunk out of the sun like Cookie Monster eating a bite of his cookie.
"It looks like a smile," she said.
Former schoolteacher Vicky Jones, who also made the trek past Beavercreek from her home in Oak Grove, likewise used the metaphor of someone nibbling a piece of a cookie. Her husband, Alan, a 1964 graduate of Milwaukie High School, flew 20 years for the U.S. Air Force and 19 years for American Airlines and said that he'd much rather be watching the event from the ground rather than join the many planes circling the area.
As the sun went almost completely behind the moon, everyone was marveling at the ripples that the corona of the sun was making across the ground at the Christmas tree farm where visitors had received permission from the property owner to watch the eclipse. When path of totality hit the area, Alani Vierra teared up and hugged Ally Simone, as the Portland couple shared the emotion of viewing the event.
Portland registered nurse Sharon Botchway, who grew up in the area near Beavercreek, knew her way around the rural roads and avoided the traffic headed into Molalla from the Portland area. She took the day off work to look at the eclipse and hoped her eclipse glasses were the good kind, since she got them from OHSU.
The West Linn Public Library was among the many local organizations that gave out recalled eclipse glasses, and the Oregon City library assured its patrons that it was giving out genuine eclipse glasses. With the Oregon City Fred Meyer and just about every other store in the area running out of glasses on Thursday, many were desperate to find a safe tool for watching the celestial event.
OC librarians had planned to hand out 100 free eclipse glasses each morning of the weekend before the eclipse. When lines formed around the block for glasses at the library, scalpers were able to sell them for $10 each to those at the back of the line. Scalpers had purchased the $2 glasses in bulk from local stores as the supplies ran low last week.
"The scalper could have sold them for a lot more than that $10," said Oregon city resident Marita Brucker.
Brucker said that she might have paid $20, but the scalper had already run out. Brucker kept thinking that local stores would have plenty of glasses, but then she heard they ran out.
"You'd think that they'd get some more supplies when they'd be so much demand," she said.
Librarians took pity on some of those who waited for hours in a seemingly hopeless quest to get the glasses, since they were past 100 in line. The library staff gave out about 150 each day of the weekend, so there were only about 350 left for giving out at the big party in Carnegie Park. There were still about 100 people each day who waited in line without getting glasses.
Washington state residents Robert and Molly Willia were first in line and had waited for free eclipse glasses with their lawn chairs for five hours.
Tyler Bobbett of Oregon City, who also waited several hours to obtain a pair, went to Fred Meyer after they sold out.
"So one of my friends said that I should come early to the library; it's either do this or go blind watching it," he said.
Others expressed their disappointment in not getting glasses and having to park blocks away from the library.
"It's not Best Buy on Black Friday; it's a library," said Jeannine Lancey of Oregon City. "When you get a group of people who are bent on having something, their reasoning skills become lax."
News editor, Clackamas Review/Oregon City News
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