The Ecstasy

We watched the news last night and the weatherman (Rusty!) ran four simulations for cloud coverage today. In all of them, it looked like our originally planned location for viewing the eclipse was still the best option. We were up and on the road at 7:15 am. Traffic was a bit slow in spots, but nothing like what I had feared. Our destination was the Tesla supercharger just south of Grand Island, NE.

Why this location? It had one of the longest periods of totality within a reasonable drive of Lincoln, a supercharger (so we could leave with a full “tank”) and a big travel center with facilities. The supercharger also guaranteed us a parking spot, in case the place was overcrowded. We arrived just after 8:30 and found 8 spots with just one Tesla in residence. By 10:30, there were 11 of us, including 3 of the Model X. We were fully charged, so we vacated our spot for one of the newcomers.

We expected to see other Tesla owners, due to the supercharger’s convenient location in the path of totality. What we didn’t expect is that it would turn into a mini Tesla convention. Half of the cars were from Minnesota. So, in addition to being in a prime eclipse location, we got to meet a lot of really nice fellow Tesla owners.

Our cameras were set up and ready to go 30 minutes before the start of the eclipse. The partial phase was pretty underwhelming and only visible through the eclipse glasses or the solar filter on my camera. The photos were pretty underwhelming as well. A few minutes before totality, the light began to dim noticeably. We were treated to the awesome spectacle of a 360 degree sunset.

I can’t adequately describe the experience of totality, except to say it was probably the most awe inspiring sight I have ever witnessed. Something like a religious experience, I would imagine. There is no photo and no video that can begin to capture it. We had a tiny bit of wispy cloud cover, but nothing that detracted from the experience. It was worth every bit of effort we put into getting there.

Second Stop: Lincoln

We went back to the supercharger this morning to top off before hitting the road to Lincoln. Unfortunately, there was a big golf tournament right across the street so it was a little tricky to get there. Then, we found three other Teslas charging when we arrived. Plus a Mitsubishi Galant just squatting in one of the spots. A thirty minute Starbucks break was enough to get us almost fully charged.

We stopped again just before Omaha and had lunch while charging. We reached Lincoln with about 180 miles of range. The supercharger wasn’t conveniently located, so we parked the car at a Chargepoint station in the parking ramp adjacent to our hotel. It’s going to take almost six hours to fully charge (and will cost a few bucks) but we’re not in any hurry.

We caught the second half of the IndyCar race before heading out for dinner. The whole afternoon was sunny with an almost cloudless sky, perfect eclipse conditions. Not the case with tomorrow’s forecast. If the weather guessers are right, the entire state of Nebraska will be socked in with clouds and rain. We’re not going to drive hours to find a viewing location, so we may be out of luck. Let’s hope not.

First Stop: Des Moines

We are currently comfortably ensconced in our hotel in Des Moines. We arrived later than anticipated, but other than that, it was a relatively smooth journey. The day started with our usual struggle to get Ripley into his carrier so we could take him in for boarding. After 15-20 minutes of aborted coaxing, using food and toys, my husband had to resort to picking him up and just shoving him in. Sometimes the direct approach is best.

After we dropped Ripley off, we still had a ton of stuff to do around the house before hitting the road. I had to do a load of laundry and we had almost nothing packed. By the time we hit the road it was almost 2:00. We stopped at two supercharger stations along the way and by the time we reached Des Moines and stopped for dinner, it was almost 6:30. Which constitutes a late dinner by our standards.

Then we needed to hit another supercharger before checking in to our hotel. We didn’t wait for a full charge, so we’ll be back in the morning to “top off” before heading to Lincoln. Fortunately, the supercharger is only a mile from our hotel and there is a Starbucks close by. Even if the eclipse is a bust, we will consider this trip a success as a test run for taking road trips in the Tesla. Always look on the bright side.

Road to Nowhere

For the last several weeks, we have literally been unable to drive out of our immediate neighborhood in any direction without encountering road construction within a few blocks. Typically, we have alternate routes for almost everywhere we travel regularly. But with this level of construction, there is no alternate.

So I was ridiculously excited the other day when they completed work on one of the major streets near our home. FINALLY, we can leave via that route and have a decent chance to make a left turn during a non rush hour time. It gives you a sense of how things are going lately when I tell you that was the highlight of my week.

It was a week marked by zero progress on our house, my 11th and 12th sessions of acupuncture with my arm still aching and the news that the shades in our conservatory would cost double what we were expecting. Oh, and we still don’t have the estimate for our exterior finishes. So when we leave for our big eclipse adventure tomorrow, I’m trying to think of it as just a road trip and not set myself up for disappointment if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

I try to stay focused on the positive. Some weeks that’s easier than others. For other weeks, I rely on a well stocked liquor cabinet.

Ain’t No Sunshine

I had a tiny window on Tuesday to experiment with photographing the sun again. All day yesterday it was totally socked in with clouds and today it’s looking like more of the same. Tomorrow’s forecast is for scattered showers. I’m starting to think my efforts at eclipse photography will end up being a total bust either because the weather will suck or all my images will end up shitty due to lack of practice.

That didn’t stop me from buying an expensive new tripod and gimbal head, though. They arrived yesterday and woo boy, are they gorgeous. I can justify the gimbal head because I didn’t have one and they are far superior to any other type of tripod head for shooting with a long lens. I already have heavy duty tripod legs, but they are inconveniently located in Phoenix right now. So I justified that purchase by getting ones with no center column, which are supposed to be much more stable. True that.

I set up my new beauties with my 5DSR and my 100-400mm lens and it is a sight to behold. Now I’m just going to take it all apart and pack it, because obviously I’m not going to get a chance to try it out before we hit the road on Saturday. Yep, Saturday. Our reservation in Lincoln is for Sunday night, but we started getting paranoid about making the whole drive there in one day, so we are staying in Des Moines on Saturday. Hopefully all the hype about traffic (think hurricane evacuation level) turns out to be just that, hype.

That’s Not Me

Occasionally, I receive an an email that is clearly not spam and yet is clearly not intended for me. I’m fortunate to have obtained the coveted firstname.lastname@gmail.com as my email address many years ago. I’m guessing there are a number of women with my name, which although not common is not incredibly rare, who have a similar address with the addition of a middle initial or a number.

A couple of these were attempts to sign up for some online service, which typically requires a confirmation. But apparently some sites are not exactly rigorous with their validation process. Someone used my email for a CenturyLink account and when I contacted them to have it removed, they told me they couldn’t do it. I assume the real account holder eventually straightened it out, because the email stopped after a few months.

I had more luck removing an account for a hotel chain loyalty membership, although it required a phone call to their customer service number. I also had to decline an email confirmation for a social website aimed at teens (had to google that one) and, just recently, a signup for Snapchat. The creepiest one was an email from someone on a dating website who had viewed “my” profile. I’ve ignored a couple that didn’t seem worth bothering about, including one from a “colleague” about some academic event.

Yesterday I received one that was a request for a reference. A Canadian man was applying for a volunteer position at a school and the director requesting the reference somehow ended up with my email address. I responded “not me,” so she wouldn’t be left hanging and she replied that I was supposed to be the girlfriend of the reference seeker. We LOL’ed about that. I do have to wonder how he managed to screw up his “girlfriend’s” email address.

I’m assuming these errant emails are not the fault of a singular individual, but rather a number of women whose email addresses are too close to mine for comfort. I guess I should be grateful my name is not Jane Smith.

Cabin Finale

As promised, here are my final, final offerings from Jane’s cabin.

First I have a black and white image of the cemetery. This was shot as we were leaving the church, having spent a considerable amount of time making really shitty images inside of it.  The linear arrangement of the trees over the headstones kept drawing my eye.

This is the only image I have from inside the church that I felt was worth sharing. As you can see, the ceiling detail is stunning. Unfortunately there were fans on the columns and the ceiling that were hideous and difficult to keep out of almost every composition I tried. I couldn’t seem to make anything else I photographed work either. It was an exercise in utter frustration.

Sometimes the muse abandons you. Such is life. I’d like to say it was fun trying, but that’s kind of a lie because it was so hot and stuffy.

My final image was taken right as the sun was setting on the cabin. I really like this one, although I’m not one hundred percent sure why. I guess that’s just the magic of photography.

Cabin Roundup (Floral Edition)

This will be my second to last post featuring photos from Jane’s cabin. Per the title, these all feature flowers, but that’s the only thing they have in common. The first image was taken with my Lensbaby. This was growing in the flower bed next to the garage. There weren’t a lot of flowers blooming right around the cabin, so these pretty little purple ones really stood out. They were ideal subject matter for the Lensbaby.

The other two images are from Jane’s mom’s garden, which was completely overflowing with floral photographic material.

I haven’t really made up my mind about how much I like this one. I hemmed and hawed quite a bit before deciding to include it.

I did not hesitate for a second over sharing this black and white rendition of the yellow calla lily, despite having already featured it in color. Some things are worth seeing in both color and black and white. I have just a few more images from the cabin to share and those are truly a mixed bag of odds and ends with nothing in common, although still worth sharing. Not every post needs to have a theme.

Ethical Dilemma

The saga of the eclipse glasses continues. Only now it’s become an ethical dilemma. I wrote about how the bounced glasses had been reshipped to me. They arrived here on Friday. I had accepted my mistake and just figured I would keep the glasses and eat the cost. Except on Thursday I received an email from the company telling me they had refunded the order.

PayPal confirmed receipt of the refund. Not only did they refund me the cost of the glasses, they also refunded the shipping cost. So now I have two totally free extra pairs of glasses. Which really bothers me. It’s obviously a small company and they are swamped with orders in advance of the eclipse. So one person bounced the glasses and sent them back to me, while another refunded the order. Utter chaos.

So, do I wait and see if they figure out their mistake? Or do I confess and offer to either repay for the glasses or send them back (again)? By the time they get back to the vendor it will be too late to use them for another order. It’s less than $50, so it’s not going to break the company (or me) either way. Right now I’m inclined to wait until after the eclipse and see if they figure out their mistake, since they’re obviously swamped right now. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Speaking of the eclipse, we went out yesterday afternoon and experimented with photographing the sun. It’s a lot harder than you would think. Just getting the sun in the frame is difficult, much less getting the focus and exposure right. Today it’s totally overcast and the forecast for most of this week is not great. Hopefully we’ll get another chance to practice before we leave.

Hawk in Distress

Something truly amazing happened to me yesterday. I stopped at a bank to get some cash (not the amazing part) and when I parked my car I saw a hawk dive into the parking lot and land next to a car. I assumed it was diving for prey and I got out of the car and walked towards it to see if I could get glimpse of the kill. (I’m twisted that way) What I saw instead was the hawk sitting on the ground in a very awkward position. It allowed me to get way too close, so it was obviously injured. I watched for a while to see if it took off again and to make sure no one ran over it with their car. A woman pulled up one spot over from where it sat and we talked briefly about what to do.

The woman went into the bank and then a man approached from the other direction and very quietly and carefully picked up the hawk and put his baseball cap over its eyes. I was stunned. Turns out, he regularly handles wild birds as part of his job, which I later found out to be relocating unwanted wildlife – think raccoons in your attic type stuff. Two employees came out of the bank and the man asked them to bring him a box and some duct tape. They quickly fetched an empty printer paper box and some plastic packing tape.

The man put the hawk in the box, taped down the lid and punched holes in it with a pocket knife. Unfortunately the tape wasn’t quite secure and the hawk burst out of the box and flew away. So it must be okay, right? Unfortunately no. The man saw him come down on the next street over. So he and I ran over and there was the hawk laying in the road, looking stunned. The man picked it up again and put it back in the box. This time he double wrapped tape around the lid to make sure it would stay put.

He put the hawk in his car with his wife and we both went into the bank to take care of our financial transactions. Before I left, I gave him $20 to cover the cost of the gas he would need to drive to the raptor center and deliver the hawk into their skilled hands. I am stilled stunned at the incredible serendipity of his arriving at the bank precisely when a wounded bird needed assistance. Sometimes the universe is a beautiful thing.