The Last Great Adventure 2: The Total Eclipse of the SUN☼

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Published on The Doomstead Diner August 27, 2017

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The Last Great Adventure is not yet over, since currently as I write this article I am sitting in the Spokane airport waiting for a plane to Seattle, where I will spend another couple of days with another one of the Diners who was with me at the campsite we occupied down in Rexburg, Idaho to observe this once-in-a-lifetime cosmological event (actually, there is another one in 2024 I hope to still be above ground for in 2024 to attend).  Then on Friday night I fly back to the Last Great Frontier and park myself back at my Diner Workstation in the digs.  I don't have any other Bucket List items and at the moment I have no plans to leave my  perch for observing the Collapse of Industrial Civilization for the forseeable future.  You can't do better than Alaska for low population density and good energy, food and water resources.  Besides, it's where all my Preps are.

Overall, the Last Great Adventure to the Path of Totality of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ was a raging success on almost every level, and the trip was Blessed I think by the Finger of God.  I came soooo close to cancelling on it the day before when I felt as though I was at Death's Doorstep and the Grim Reaper would win this race and come to collect me as the counselors did when I tried to make my run for Woodstock from Summer Camp in the Summer of '69.  Not this time.  RE won this race with the Grim Reaper.  I made it to the Cosmological Woodstock. :icon_sunny: 

In reality, the "Last Great Adventure" turned into a series of adventures, beginning with just getting my crippled ass out of Alaska and to the site of the Big Event.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my two friends you see with me at the top of the page in the Header Pic, K-Dog from the Diner and Brian, a friend from my years as a Gymnastics Coach.  They successfully got me in and out of cars, and mostly unsuccessfully tried to get me to eat more.  I did eat enough to stay alive though, since I am currently keyboarding out this article.  It's amazing how little you can eat and still stay alive for quite some time.

Although a lot of stuff happened both before and after the core part of the Adventure, for this article I am just going to focus on the Road Trip from Spokane & back, along with the 3 days spent at the campsite preparing for the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼.   Other adventures from this trip may get their own articles at some future date, particularly my trip to the Computer Museum in Seattle.  For the Eclipse itself, I also will likely write a separate article, including videos and still pics from the event.  That will take a while to get produced and edited up though.

We began with an inauspicious start when Brian was an hour late in picking me up at Spokane Airport on Friday morning, because he set his wake-up alarm for PM instead of AM.  I waited longer in the Spokane Airport than it took to fly from Seattle to Spokane, around 45 minutes air time.  As soon as you get up to cruising altitude, the plane starts descending again.

Once he did finally arrive, we headed back to his place to inventory his Preps to see what he already had and what we might need to buy for this trip.  He just moved into a really cute little Doomstead near Lake Couer d'Alene which is nicely separated from close neighbors, but still inside the BAU envelope of Industrial Civilization, so the neighborhood has all the Big Box stores you expect, Target, Costco, Safeway and of course Wally World (WW).

Brian had most of the Camping Basics of a nice size Tent big enough for all 3 of us on comfy twin size air mattresses, sleeping bags and cooking gear including some vintage stoves that still worked, but we still needed a lot of Preps, both of the durable kind you can re-use on other trips as well as the consumables and disposables like food, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, etc.

I discovered a major problem at this point, which was that my 4 year old smart phone batt was going bad and not taking or holding a charge very well and also running very hot, usually meaning the batt is going south.  If it quit on me on the site this would have been a major disaster.  It's a 5 year old Samsung Galaxy Mega, and the Batt for it usually is not in stock at the local batt stores and you need to order it online.  I lucked out though and Batteries & Bulbs had ONE of these batts on the shelf, so that was our first stop in terms of prepping up.

The next stop on the Prep Run for TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  was of course Wally World, for a few reasons.

First off, Wally's has Low, Low Prices Every Day, they generally come in cheaper than anyone else for any given item they actually stock on the shelves.  It's not generally the highest quality stuff and they keep the prices so low by exploiting their employees who stock the shelves and man the registers and contractors who provide the merchandise over in China & India, but as a consumer it's hard to pay double the price somewhere else for the same stuff even if you know this, unless of course you have money to burn, which I do not.  I gotta make my little Nest Egg last for however long it is I actually have left to live.  I have no further financial windfalls coming to me on the horizon I can forsee, since I don't buy LOTTO tickets.

The second main reason is that Wally's is a One-Stop-Shop not just for the Prep Hard Goods, but also the FOOD.  Again, it's not the greatest Food Superstore out there and initially we wanted to go to a separate better quality Food Superstore in the neighborhood, but time was tight and besides for Camping Food you're not really shopping for high quality, just calories and at least some nutritional value.  We made a list of the usual suspects like burgers and hot dogs, fresh fruit, potatoes, onions, bacon & eggs for breakfast, etc.  However, Brian couldn't stop throwing every food item that appealed to him in the basket, so pretty soon it was filled to overflowing. lol.  He was the one who had to unload it and get it packed into the bugout machine, so I didn't complain too much.  By the time he was done though, it looked to me like we had food not for a week, but more like for a month. lol.

After Wally World we headed over to Cabela's, a more high end Camping Superstore that carries many specific items that you don't find at Wally World I wanted for this trip, like the Folding Camping Chair you see at right, which I picked up ON SALE at Cabela's for $40.  Not that WW doesn't have camping chairs, they do, but they are generally pretty flimsy and not real good for cripples.  In this model, the armrests are part of the support structure of the chair, and I can use them to help me get in and out of said chair fairly easily.  When I sit down in an El Cheapo chair where your butt sinks real low, I can get stuck in it and not be able to get myself out.  Shifting from the sitting to standing /walking/shuffling/liimping positions several times a day is one of my toughest repetitive daily tasks I have to consider and engineer properly to accommodate my cripple status.  I also spend most of the day in the sitting position, so it needs to be pretty comfortable for my ass for the whole day.  This chair fit the bill nicely.

Besides the chair, we needed some type of Picnic Table to eat at because the campsite I bought really wasn't a campsite at all, just a 25'X30' rectangle in an unused small farm field that the owner had decided to make a nice profit from since the farm was located right on the Path of Totality of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  So it had none of the amenities you expect from a "real" campsite such as a picnic table and fire ring.  This also came in ON SALE at Cabela's for $90.  You see this table in the header pic at the top of the article.

I also realized I had forgotten to bring with me a pair of regular Sunglasses, and it was a real bright sunny day in Idaho when we were doing our Prepping Up and I was squinting before noon.  I of course had my Eclipse Glasses with me, but you can't see jack shit through them unless you are looking straight at the SUN☼, in which case it looks in normal times like a disk about as bright as the Moon.  So I went over to the Sunglasses counter to see what was available, and got the full Sales Pitch from the Sunglasses Sales Desk Rep on how these Sunglasses are soooo much better than the El Cheapo ones I have been buying from Convenience Stores for decades because I always lose them and they only cost like $15 each these days.  They sure better be better, because a pair of these Optical Protectors of your Eyesight go for $200 and more at Cabela's!  This was a Bucket List trip though so I went ahead and coughed up $200 for a fucking pair of sunglasses!  I lived in fear for the whole trip I would lose them before the trip was over.  I managed not to do that though, and the $200 Cabela's Sunglasses made it back with me to the Last Great Frontier in the Ballistic Nylon Hard Case Cabela's supplied along with the Sunglasses in my Carry-On Wheely Bag.  There they will remain until the next Bucket List trip I make if I make one before the trip across the Great Divide, and up here locally I will switch back over to the El Cheapo Sunglasses I have about 3 pairs of and do an OK job of protecting my eyes from the harmful radiation of the SUN☼ for as much as it hits Alaska even on a cloudless sunny day.  I will say though that the expensive glasses really do work better, although I am not sure it is worth $200 to buy them.

Prepping & Packing for the Road Trip now finally complete, we could actually now begin the drive down to Rexburg, ID to get our campsite set up.  This is Friday around 4:30PM, 3 days before the actual event of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  Drive time according to Google Maps around 7 hours, but this assumes you do the Speed Limit on all the roads on the drive for the full route, and those limits are well up there at 80mph for most of the drive.  8 hours is a much more realistic estimate, even 9 if you take time off for a sit down meal somewhere and don't just buy sandwiches and eat while you drive.  This would have brought us to the campsite well after midnite, which is not a great time to set up a campsite with one working body and another cripple.  I decided the best alternative was to make it a little past half-way, just past Missoula before stopping for the night in a Bates Motel, but I was determined we should make at least the half-way point before stopping at around 9PM or so for dinner then crashing in a Bates Motel.

So we drive pretty flawlessly and smoothly through Missoula on the West side, passing many chain Motels but I tell Brian to keep going, we are sure to find a Bates Motel somewhere on the East side of Missoula before we stop.  Unfortunately, as soon as we pass through Missoula to the West Side of the town, everything fucking DISAPPEARS!  No more Motels, no more Restaraunts, no more Gas Station/Convenience Stores, or at least they are long distances apart.  I am starting to curse myself because it is looking more and more likely we will have to catch some ZZZ's sleeping in the seats of the Toyota Bugout Machine before finishing the trip the following morning.  While I have pulled this stunt on many occassions, it is never pleasant and even worse for the driver who was not me in this case but Brian at the time.

However, after about another hour of driving, we ran across an exit with a still open Convenience Store and a still open Restaurant, around 9PM or so.  Henry's Poor Boy Bar & Grill, with good food at least so Brian told me since I only ordered a beer.  The waitress told us there was a  Bates Motel around 30 min down the road we might get a room at, so we called them and they did in fact have one room available which we reserved.  After dinner, we sped down the road to grab our beds for the night at the Bates Motel

This was a TRUE Bates Motel, of the type I love.  I have stayed at many during my years as an OTR Trucker, and lived in a few for extended periods during my years as a Nomadic Gymnastics Coach.  They all have the same type of design, rooms in a one story building with the parking spot right out front.  They are not corporate owned, usually owned by some local who himself lives on the property.  Residents are often people who get Section 8 Housing Credits, sometimes Welfare Moms, sometimes Crack Heads, you never know precisely what you will get there when you check in.  But they are the REAL AMERIKANS for the most part, people who have not quite yet fallen completely off the economic cliff and still manage to put a roof over their heads a little better than a tent in a Homeless  Encampment.  In all my years staying in these places, I never had any problem with violence or theft for myself, although periodically there was such action that went on surrounding me.

In this particular Bates Motel, Dogs seemed quite popular to have as pets, the owner had around 8 of them and the next door neighbor had araound 2 of them, but they were reasonably quiet overnight.  Brian and I got a good restful sleep in the Motel and set out early on Satuday morning to finish the drive to Rexburg and get the Boondocking site set up to view the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .

EXCEPT, one *small* problem occured.  Behind us on the road, K-Dog had taken off from Seattle in his Mercedes on Friday night also.  Somewhere near the WA-ID border, his transmission went haywire and his Mercedes got stuck in 1st or 2nd gear, and he could do no better than 40mph without over revving the rpms on the engine.  But he kept going anyhow.  Had the Mercedes kept working according to spec, he likely would have bypassed us overnight while we were sleeping at the Bates Motel and arrived first at the Boondocking site.

The following morning however while finishing the drive to Rexburg, we got a BRAZOS call from K-Dog telling us what had occured to him on the road and what his situation was.  When you get a BRAZOS call from another Diner, there is no greater priority than to RESCUE that Diner, if you can.  So Brian and me turned the Toyota around and went back up the road to rescue K-Dog, who parked the Mercedes in a Rest Area in Anaconda, MT, just outside of Butte.  We got the Mercedes towed to Butte, and the 3 of us got back on the road to see the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ at the campsite in Rexburg Idaho.

We found the campsite with only a slight bit of navigational trouble, and then determined priorities in set-up.  It turned out good that K-Dog was with us at this point, because I was little assistance to Brian for setting up the site, other than giving Boondocking Advice.  Some of the tenting systems worked, others did not.  We had to adapt to get the site reasonable for 3 days of Boondocking, which in the end we did but took some creative thinking along the way.  My main concern at this time was keeping my crippled ass out of the SUN until we had some shade set up so I could avoid both heat stress and sunburn, both of which plagued me at the last Convocation at the Harvest Day Festival in SC last year.  I actually got bubbles on my skin and 2nd Degree burn which was quite painful for about 2 weeks after that adventure.

Once the initial site was set up, it was a matter of waiting for the Next Generation to show up to finish it off, which did not happen until well into that night, around 10PM  they finally showed up and got their two 2-man tents set up to complete the Boondocking location for 7 people.  It came out pretty comfortable for all of us in the end, and the Next Gen folks were handy to have around since we assigned them the cooking responsibilities which they mostly did a good job with.  In the morning we had a real good Breakfast with Bacon, Hash Browns and Scrambled Egss which were good, although I only ate a few bites.

After Breakfast it was a matter of getting things set up to record the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ , and this was fraught with technical problems as far as electrics were concerned on the site.

As I generally do, I had Backup for my main Inverter, but somehow that one wasn't working right.  I got Brian to try and hook up the new 1000W pure sine wave inverter, but he crossed the positive and negative poles on that inverter and blew a bunch of the fuses inside, rendering that one useless also.  K-Dog thinks he can fix it though, so I gave it to him.   Given this was a fairly long event to record, I wanted a steady source of electric power beyond the internal Batts of the cameras, and without the funtioning inverter I did not have one.  This made me terrifically unhappy. lol.  The Next Gen folks have a couple who are Nerds, and they set about trying to fix the busted inverters, which went a good part of the day with a lot of discussion on what we would need to fix the mother fuckers.  Many great ideas and these inverters may eventually become once agai functional, but after hours on this day it became apprent to me that such a fix was NOT going to happen before the  the following morning.  So I did what any smart consumer would do, I sent the Next Gens out to buy me another one!  lol.  They spent more than I wanted for this replacement, but this was Bucket List shit and money was no object here for this one.  This throwing money at a problem resolved the electrics issue  for the next day recording of the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .

We spent the evening prior to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼  quite pleasantly cooking up some burgers over the charcaoal grill, although the "professional cooks" attending did have some arguments about how to best cook a burger over an Open Flame.  For the people who actually ate one of them, the cooking seemed adequate and I was ot one of them, either cook or eater so if it was OK for them, I am fine with this.  I sure would never have cooked them so long over this fire though.

OK,  that's the leadup to the TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN☼ .  I'll follow up next week for Sunday Brunch with more of the LAST GREAT ADVENTURE.

RE

4 Responses to The Last Great Adventure 2: The Total Eclipse of the SUN☼

  • Ma Dee says:

    Sounds like a good time was had by all! Just as prolifigate consumerism and massive CO2 emissions have been since America invented it! When in doubt, everything can be handled with a trip to ChinaMart! 

    • K Dog says:

      Prolifigate consumerism, that's the thing.  Will easy motoring be possible the next time around or will famine stalk the land.  Will the next eclipse be so easily seen by so many?  ChinaMart has low prices and if they have what you need to get by, what are you going to do?

      It is necessary that carbon be burned for diners to meet.  Community will be necessary to endure collapse.  Like minds, separated by hundreds even thousands of miles will need bug out vans to congregate with.

      While I am sitting down enjoying a vape in one pic I assure all I worked hard and pulled my weight.  That pic was most likely taken by my son, who no doubt waited for me to sit down and appear to loaf.

      The Mercedes was picked up Saturday for shipment to Seattle.  It is currently in limbo and I am now renting a Ford hybrid to get to and from work.  I prefer the Mercedes.

      • RE says:

        Actually, that pic was taken by Gerard, and it was a set shot I composed to illustrate camera set-up..  It was pure luck we caught you loafing at the time.  LOL.

        RE

  • Irv Mills says:

    I was in British Columbia from Aug. 15 to Aug 20, visiting family. The first few days we spent in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, but on Aug 19 we went to a wedding in Abbotsford, a ways inland from Vancouver on the lower mainland. If I read your "Last Great Adventure" right, you were in Idaho at that time, about as close together as we are ever likely to get. A strange coincidence.

    I viewed the eclipse when we got home to Ontario using a pinhole camera. Only around 80%, but still pretty neat.

    I’m not too proud of the amount of jet fuel it took to get my wife and I to BC and back, but we were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary, and don’t plan to make a habit of jet setting.

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