Eclipse camping at rodeo grounds

Maleya Fitzgerald, 12, of Kirkland, Washington, helps set up a canopy tent at her family's campsite Saturday at the Philomath Frolic & Rodeo grounds in preparation for Monday's total solar eclipse. Fitzgerald's family had left at 3 a.m. to beat traffic and found the roads to be clear.

I would've liked to have figured out a way to be in Philomath this morning for the total solar eclipse. In reality, I was in the middle of producing the Aug. 23 edition of the newspaper, which in the morning and afternoon hours goes through a design process leading up to the evening press run.

Instead, I took a 15-minute break from my desk to step outside to enjoy the eclipse, which I must admit was pretty cool. The first thing I noticed was that it had cooled off and then during the two-minute stretch of darkness, crickets started chirping, the street lights illuminated and our neighbors gasped as they took in the special occasion.

If I had known that the traffic wasn't going to be as bad as everyone thought, it's possible that I could've worked from Philomath and taken an hour or so away from the computer to visit with people at the rodeo grounds, for example. But we just didn't know how bad the crowds might be and the fear existed that I might get stuck in traffic with newspaper deadline pressure mounting.

Another factor was the knowledge that because of the deadlines, I wasn't going to be able to get any eclipse coverage in the Aug. 23 edition anyway and it would be 10 days old by the time folks could read it in the Aug. 30 newspaper. It was just bad timing.

Our sister newspaper in Corvallis did have a reporter and photographer on Marys Peak and I posted that on our website right away with plans to also include it in the Aug. 30 edition for our print readers.

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