You can't do epic shit with basic people, and the Right Lane Eclipse was pretty epic from our perspective. Our volunteers showed up first and from a raw starting point transformed an empty field into the setting of something spectacular. It's important to mention that nothing great ever happens without much effort and our volunteers worked with us and worked hard to create a place where experiences and moments could happen for hundreds of families. From the least favorite responsibility of checking port-a-potties, where at one point we lost the key to be able to refill the toilet paper (YIKES!), to the physically demanding responsibilities of building & securing additional shade & moving hay bales, we acted as a team and while it felt like the to-do list kept growing, we finally were able to see the fruit of our labor pay off when guests arrived.
Our guests came one group at a time from all over the world. Families drove through the night, couples flew in from across the world, and some local Oregonians showed up despite the horrific media reports of traffic and we quickly became the host to nearly 600 guests. To say that my anxiety level was high is an understatement. To be honest, my biggest fear was letting down our guests and them not having a good time. The good news for me was that the finale to our event was not in our control, and I wouldn't be to blame if the eclipse turned out to be a dud. Fortunately, it wasn't, am I right? It was spectacular! But what made an impression on us more so than the phenomenon of the moon doing a disappearing act with the sun was what we saw happen between strangers throughout the weekend. There were groups of talented musicians who formed temporary bands and played under the starlight together. There were astronomy lessons being held in field trip settings throughout the campers where children and adults were the students. We heard several deep, meaningful conversations being held in the peace of the night between camping neighbors and close friends. Not that we were eaves dropping or anything... The innate desire to connect with others became the theme of our event and strangers became friends.
The finale came right on time Monday when the sun began to disappear behind the moon and an open field became full of excitement, wander & joy. To say that I was only slightly enthusiastic about what a Total Solar Eclipse was going to be like is an understatement. It was my husband who was truly excited about it! So much so that he even considered becoming an "Eclipse Chaser" before he even saw one. Now, after experiencing it myself, I can say that I feel like a complete ass for ever doubting how awesome it actually could be, and was. There was a soft cheer spread throughout the crowd for 1 minute and 52 seconds. The stars came back out. The cows moo'd at the sun reappearing as they must have thought they lost a day of eating fresh grass. The birds chirped. A flock of geese flew above when the sky became dark. And at one point there was silence where only the natural sounds of the earth could be heard while people watched in awe.
And then, a breath was released. We had pulled it off! The rest of the time we had guests we became guests ourselves, experiencing our land in a different way. Living out of our tent as a family of 4 down by the river was an adventure and the best way to end the summer for our family. We played in the river like it was the first time, sat back in lawn chairs with new friends and old ones, and we watched the sun set behind the hills grateful to have met so many people who had a great time where we call home. To share our property with others meant the world to us. I won't lie, it was nice to get back into our house and take a hot shower and sleep in the coziest bed in the world, but without the hard work it wouldn't have been as sweet as it was.
The experience didn't end after the last camper drove away, however. We began getting feedback via email, social media and reviews and what we read was encouraging. The images are still being shared and each one allows us to reflect more on such a special event, and we are so grateful to everyone who shares, so thank you. We were so busy getting around our property giving our attention to every issue we could that we didn't quite slow down enough to take many pictures ourselves, so it makes our day every time an email shows up with more moments and new images of what people were able to capture of the event and the eclipse.
We may have been late to the game when it comes to actually deciding to host campers for the Great American Eclipse, but what can we say other than it takes dedication to be true procrastinators. Regardless of how long it took us to decide, one thing we know now is that we made the right one and attribute the success of our event to the people who showed up.
Image by Oivind Tangen, Norway