A Great Northern Adventure, Part II

The second part of the adventure was spread over two days during which i got some photos of bridges over the Willamette and experienced the eclipse.  First, the bridges, from Salem south.  Here’s the northernmost bridge in Salem, the Union Street Railroad Bridge which, as you learn from that excellent link in case the absence of tracks didn’t clue you in, is no longer a railroad bridge.

Union Street Railroad Bridge


The nice lady standing there told me how to get up onto the Marion Street Bridge a bit upstream, from which i took this shot.

Union Street Railroad Bridge


Here’s the Marion Street Bridge from the railroad bridge.  That’s the Center Street Bridge upstream beneath it.

Marion Street Bridge


A detail shot of one of the support columns.

Marion Street Bridge


Upstream in Albany, the northernmost bridge is the old swing span railroad bridge variously called “Toledo District Willamette Bridge”, “Willamette River Railroad Bridge”, etc.  It’s supposedly in use, but i somehow doubt that means the swing span is still operational.  From the Lyon Street Bridge.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


And from the bank.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


And one more because i like this angle.

Willamette Railroad Bridge in Albany


A quarter mile upstream is the Lyon Street Bridge.

Lyon Street Bridge


And from beneath the Ellsworth Street Bridge.

Lyon Street Bridge


And just beside it, the old Ellsworth Street Bridge.

Ellsworth Street Bridge


And from the side.

Ellsworth Street Bridge


Next, down to Corvallis for the Harrison Street Bridge, from the foot of the Van Buren Street Bridge.

Harrison Street Bridge


Just upstream is the far more interesting Van Buren Street Bridge.

Van Buren Street Bridge


The last bridge in Corvallis is the Corvallis Bypass Bridge.

Corvallis Bypass Bridge


And the final Willamette bridge for this trip is the Owosso Bicycle Bridge in western Eugene.

Owosso Bicycle Bridge


So much for the bridges this trip, but i’ll go back.

The other reason i came to Oregon was to see the total eclipse of the sun, and i’d been planning this for months even though i hadn’t started soon enough to get a motel room for the night of the 20th in the middle of the totality zone and ended up just getting a room in Springfield so i could take bridge photos there and drive north on I-5 the morning of the eclipse.

I’d figured out that the best plan would be to take exit 242, Talbot Road, and work my way west until i could find a place to park and watch the eclipse, so when i woke up in Springfield on the 21st, i set out up I-5 at 5:15.

But then a half mile before Talbot Road i happened on the Santiam River Rest Area, which sits invitingly on the north bank of the river and, unlike country roads, has restrooms.  So i pulled into the rest area at 6:00 AM and found it already jammed.  Helpful Oregon DMV guys were steering us over the low curbs into the adjacent fields where, good citizens that we were, we lined up in orderly rows even though nobody was directing us.

After napping in the car for an hour or so, i pulled the Segway out and headed for the restrooms.  The line was not long and there was still toilet paper.  The bonus was a trailer next door selling coffee, for which the line was longer, but there is great pleasure to be had standing in line with a bunch of people who are all, like you, on one of the greatest adventures of their lives and eager to talk about it.

Back at the car, i chatted with neighbors as we pulled on our eclipse glasses and watched the moon take increasingly large bites out of the sun.   As the day gradually grew dimmer, i noticed a phenomenon about which i’d not read.  Yes, the quantity of light grew less, as expected, but what i’d not anticipated was that its quality was somehow different.  It was yellower than normal for a day when the sun wasn’t bright, since in this case the light was not being filtered through haze or filmy clouds.

Another thing that struck me was, just before totality when the sun was a thin crescent, stepping under an adjacent tree and watching little crescents of light dance wildly around on the grass.  Shoulda taken a video.

When you read about eclipses, a routine observation is that the animals all seem to behave strangely, and i was a bit concerned about missing this phenomenon since i hadn’t seen any little woods critters running around in this field.  But then i realized, oh hey, there are hundreds of medium-size mammals standing around, and i can just observe them.

And sure enough, in the last few seconds before totality, all of ’em were staring at the sun through their little eclipse glasses, and the moment it winked out, they simultaneously uttered a full-throated roar, probably expecting this would frighten the dragon away.

It was utterly surreal standing there during the two minutes of totality under the very dark blue sky with Jupiter shining brightly and the corona of the sun ringing the black moon.  And perhaps the most wonderful moment for me was when, at the end of totality there was suddenly the tiniest pinprick of incredibly bright light at the upper right edge of the moon, at which the mammals uttered a gasp, and they had to immediately put their eclipse glasses back on to watch the pinprick turn rapidly into a growing crescent.

It was worth driving 570 miles for.

And yes, it was still worth it a few minutes later when, while the sun was still a crescent, i got up on I-5 headed south and joined the rest of the folks, the majority sporting California license plates, seeking to beat the rush south for the remaining 570 miles.  I have to say, i’ve never been in a mellower and politer traffic jam.  I saw only one car misbehaving during the entire three hours it took to go the 42 miles to Springfield.

I bailed out in Springfield and spent a couple of hours in mounting frustration trying to get a better photo of the first bridge over the Willamette before i gave up and rejoined the much diminished fray on I-5 until i stopped for the night in Grant’s Pass.  Against all expectations, the drive home the next day was so easy that it was almost an anticlimax, the high point being hitting Bartel’s Giant Burger in Corning thirty minutes before opening time and their going ahead and making me a fine hamburger early.  For which they would have found that afternoon a pleasant surprise at the bottom of their tip jar.

What a great adventure!  The next one will be to buy a drone-mounted camera, develop some expertise flying it, and use it on another expedition to get decent photos of the rest of the bridges over the Sacramento and the Willamette.





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  1. David Ogden
    Posted 30 August 2017 at 11:04 | Permalink

    Stellar commentary and photos, Matte.

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