This week “State of Wonder” traveled across the solar eclipse’s path of totality, from Newport to the Ochoco National Forest and many places in between for a once-in-a-lifetime artistic and cosmic journey. This is the documentary we put together of our road trip. We also put together a travel journal with our daily check-ins on Think Out Loud.
Day 1: The Coast
Monday morning we headed to the coast, where the shadow of the moon will make its first landfall. In Newport, the county’s emergency manager told us the eclipse is a big dress rehearsal for something truly catastrophic, like an earthquake. We met Kay Wyatt, a seismologist and amateur astronomer who chose the site to build her retirement home (and personal observatory) years ago to be in the path of this eclipse. While we visited, we saw “Hawks on the Highway: Prints from the Crow’s Shadow Institute,” at Newport Visual Arts Center - check it out before Sept. 3.
Day 2: The Willamette Valley — 5:42
We hopped over the Coast Range to Oregon State University in Corvallis, where we saw a dazzling exhibit at OSU’s Fairbanks Gallery called “Totality” and spoke with the show’s curator, Julia Bradshaw. With us at the exhibition was poet and professor Quo-Li Driskill, who’s leading a workshop called “Northstar: Poetics of the Spheres to Write Ourselves Home,” which centers people of color and LGBTQ voices and connects celestial events and storytelling across cultures and traditions. You can find our full conversation with Bradshaw and Driskill, as well as Driskill’s full poem, here.
We also spoke with one of Oregon’s premier astro-photographers, Tom Carrico, about the dazzling images he contributed to the “Totality” exhibit.
Musical Interlude: The Builders and the Butchers’ Ryan Sollee — 15:41
Suttle Lodge is hosting a who’s who of Portland musicians this weekend for the Funk’s Solar Obscuration Celebration. It runs all weekend and is free to the public.
Ryan Sollee, the frontman of the Builders and the Butchers, was kind enough to play us the song “Shine in the Light,” from their latest album, “The Spark,” in the forest behind Suttle’s cabins.
Day 3: Central Oregon — 20:39
We made it to ground zero! On Wednesday, we visited the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Madras, where food trucks were rolling in and the high school football team was setting up tents for Solarfest. Sandy Forman of the Jefferson County Tourism Group — along with two friends — is coordinating the event. We also stopped by Warm Springs to meet KWSO announcer, bead artist, and all-around great person Marge Kalama.
Day 4: Big Summit Prairie — 28:03
Following colorfully painted RVs loaded down with gear and bikes and hula hoops, we weren’t quite sure we’d make it to Big Summit Prairie for the Oregon Eclipse Festival in the Ochoco Mountains. Making the most of the 35-mile backup of standstill traffic leading up to the gate, thousands of festival-goers brought the party to the highway. Once inside the festival gates, we explored what felt like a sprawling magical wonderland, and we followed a few visitors as they engaged with the many interactive art exhibits. We also spoke with Chief Delbert Black Fox Pomani of the Dakota Sioux Tribe, from the Crow Creek Agency in South Dakota, who was staying in the 1Nation Earth Camp.
Day 5: The Cascades — 36:39
We might have found our eclipse happy place at historic Suttle Lodge near Sisters. It’s gorgeous at the lake — the sky’s pure blue despite several fires burning nearby. The peace and tranquility here are all the more surprising since staff are preparing for as many as 5,000 day trippers coming in for a free eclipse music festival this weekend, delightfully titled Funk’s Obscuration Celebration. The Funk in the celebration is Chris Funk of The Decemberists, who curated a lineup that’s a who’s who of Portland indie rock bands, from glam phenom Kyle Craft to the captivating folk of the to the great soul singer Ural Thomas.
You know who was kind enough to play us a song in her cabin (delightfully labeled ‘Rustic Cabin #7’)? The hard-driving garage rocker Sallie Ford. She played “Unraveling from her new album, Soul Sick.