We traveled up to Redding, California last weekend to pursue one of our favorite family activities: viewing a solar eclipse. This time, we didn't need a fancy cruise ship or a trip to the Sahara Desert or even an airplane to get to the site. We just drove our trusty, dusty Lexus RX300 about four hours north.
An Annular Eclipse is one in which the moon covers most, but not all, of the sun. What's left is known as the "Ring of Fire". You don't get the same twilight effect or the diamond ring of a total eclipse, but it is still a pretty spectacular sight. The moon moves slowly over the sun, leaving only a golden ring shining through. The center line of this particular annular eclipse ran through Oregon, Northern California, Nevada, New Mexico, and the Texas Panhandle. It's a once-in-every-forty-years sight at any given location, so it was worth the drive north to see it in all its glory. The last annular we viewed was in Costa Rica when Alex was 18 months old.
We headed out on our 2012 eclipse adventure on Saturday, May 19, after a rushed packing job that left us without sunscreen, lawn chairs, or hats. As much as we travel, you'd think we wouldn't forget essentials, but it happens to the best of us. We made do with what we had, which included a golf umbrella in the car, and even a grocery bag that Frank fashioned into a hat so his head wouldn't roast. Thankfully, I found an emergency supply of sunscreen in my purse.
We met up with some local friends who are also eclipse buffs the night before for dinner. We weren't quite sure where the best viewing spots would be, so we debated the various spots that were recommended by the local astronomy club as good bets. We decided to play it by ear, waiting to see what the weather would be prior to making a decision.
On Sunday, we woke up to cerulean skies and little cloud cover. The news reported that it would be hot, so we thought that being near water would be a good bet. We spent the morning touring Redding, which is a lovely little town with view of Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta off in the distance, surrounded by lakes made from the hydro-electric dam nearby. The Sundial Bridge over the Sacramento River is something of an architectural marvel, with a tall spire swooping above the river like a tall-masted ship flowing in the wind. We walked across the glass-tiled bridge and enjoyed the views of the river and hundreds of tiny birds swooping over and under the bridge.