Idaho Trip
Boise, Weiser, Solar Eclipse, Sightseeing

August 2017

I decided to put my photos of my four night trip to Idaho on a website. Advantages:
It is awkward to carry photos around to show people. I don't like to pass around a
phone with tiny pictures. I needn't give the same long speech over and over.
People can look through the site as fast or slow as they want. Some may only look
at the photos, others may read every word (at least I hope some do!)

Note this is not a Solar Eclipse photo website. I did take about 140 images of the
Sun/moon event, but they are very redundant and frankly not that good. Since I wanted
to fly with a small carry on bag. I did not have the equipment I normally use for
astrophotography. More on that later.

Autumn 2016 - Preperation

I knew a total eclipse of the Sun would cross the U.S. a couple of years ago. Like many I had no idea I should
make reservations that far ahead. I knew Madras Oregon was the best spot in the U.S. In September I used
ORBITZ to start looking - 11 months ahead. With Orbitz I could click on a city once and see all of the hotels.
My first shock was everything had a red box saying FULL. Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains was generally
a good location so I clicked on most every town/city eastward. I reached the border of a very wide State
without a single vacancy. I skipped over the state line to Idaho. The capitol Boise it was sold out. I finally
found rooms available at a Motel 6 in Meridian Idaho, a suburb of Boise. I pounced on one.

With my hotel secure I reserved airline and rental car then sat back for months. I waited far too long to look
for a spot of land to stand/sit upon during the event. I wrote to the Boise Astronomical Society asking for some
suggestions and received an email saying most of the towns in the Eclipse Path would be crowded but suggesting
Weiser or Midvale.

August 19, 2017 - Saturday - Travel Day

The trip was mostly uneventful. Drive to Bradley, leave car with Roncari, spend some time in the terminal.
Delta Airlines messed up my name on the Boarding Pass - Leoedward Taylor. When I went through TSA screening
I was pulled out of the line to be checked by a TSA agent. He looked at my licence (Leo Edward Taylor) and
put me in my own scanner line. I flew to Minneapolis/St Paul, changed planes, and on to Boise. All four times
the plane was on the last gate of the concourse. When I changed planes the two gates were about a 1/2 mile apart.
I was beginning to doubt my usually good luck. Leaving the Boise airport, still in the big city, I noticed that
Interstate 84 was four lanes in each direction, wider than any in Connecticut.

Sunday - Reconnaissance Day

The predictions of heavy traffic were worrysome. I had heard roads from Greater Boise going North to the
Totality Zones would be jammed for hours. I got up before 5 AM to beat the rush to find a spot. I-84 was
a breeze, especially with a Speed Limit of 80 MPH outside of greater Boise.

In my mind if the eclipse started Monday while I was on a highway I'd pull over and watch from wherever I was.
That was squashed by signs saying, "No stopping on pavement" and "No parking on grass." Idaho has an extreme
drought and they fear the exhuast system on a car could start a grass fire (I saw several burn areas). So I
had to find a legal spot. I had been told to try Weiser Idaho, a town of 5,700, which turned out to be very
good advice. With the Weiser Eclipse City Map I had printed a few days earlier I picked the field around the
High School. At 6 AM no one was around so I presumed parking spots were available. I stocked up at Ridley's
Supermarket which I could find only with that map! I bought an ice chest, folding chair, Iced Tea, etc.

Feeling confident in Weizer I drove further North to see Midvale. I entered and left in about 30 seconds,
it has only about 200 people! I had some time for photos (this was to be a photo album.)


This is typical terrain seen along the highways where I was. There are some hills.
The only places green are irrigated. the drought leaves the rest of the vegetation brown.


Another view of the terrain. There are mountains in the distance, though I did not visit them.


I went into the City of Boise several times. A river runs through it so it
is lush and green. I found a park with paddleboats.


Boise Canada Geese.


Rafting or Paddleboarding in downtown Boise is popular. My new friend at Motel 6 suggested I
try it, I suggested if I get injured 2000 miles from home it will ruin my vacation! My first event
with my wife was tubing on the Farmington River, a bit more challenging than the Boise River.

Monday - Eclipse Day

Again I was up before dawn due to the predictions of heavy traffic. I realized, and other reports
confirmed, that the doomsday predictions scared people away. Many vendors overproduced and could
not sell all the things they made. Turnout for the City of Weizer was about 15,000 vs 50,000 predicted.
On the other hand the visitors tripled the population of Weiser for a day!

I saw only slightly more traffic on my second 1.5 hour trip to Weiser. I think that increase was because
it was a drive to work day, not a walk to church day. Another reason I thought of is what I'll call the
"Hamden Fireworks Effect". Each year I have no problem driving to the Fireworks because the City
schedules Food Trucks, Military Band, D J, etc. so people trickle in. It is the ride home that is SLOW.
Since most Eclipse Observers left right after totality it took me 3 hours to get to my hotel.

I'm glad I left the hotel early that morning! When I arrived at the High School before dawn there were
lots of people, but less than half the spaces were filled. When I pulled into the driveway I was asked
if I had a reservation. It seems the parking was sold out two months ahead. But, the lady pointed out
street parking alongside the field which was fine with me!

While walking around in the dark around 6:22 AM I took this photo toward the eventual Sunrise.
Note Venus is visible, the foreground is dark, and the car has lights on.


Now would be a good time to mention the importance of where you are relative to your time zone.
Long ago my sister Barbara was visiting our Mother in Westport CT from her home in Rochester NY.
She said they have 40 minutes more sunlight than we. My ears perked up, how can that be?
Our houses were on opposite ends of the Eastern Time Zone. Weiser Idaho is in the Mountain Time
Zone but very close to Oregon in the Pacific Time Zone. Thus it has an unusually late Sunset and Sunrise.

I hung around, drank Iced Tea, and finally sat in my new chair. I exchanged some small talk with a
couple nearby on the grass. We ended up talking for about 90 minutes. I set up my little tripod.
This photo was taken just after the totality, but fits in now.


The couple I met is in the foreground, my blue chair I used once is there as well as my "toy" tripod.
The lady mentioned they had to borrow one lawn chair, so I told her I'd give her mine after the eclipse.
I had practiced with the tripod a week earlier. I can't bend far enough to look through the finder
thus used a "Compact Makeup Mirror" to re-center the Sun every 8 minutes. I also could not focus well.
I knew I'd have problems, but did not want photography to dominate the day. I spent most of the time
looking up with my $2 McDonald's glasses. Note the cloudless blue sky with high transparency looking up.
Here are the results:



The photos are true 1:1 size, with a 200mm Zoom lens the image of the Sun is 460 pixels in diameter.

I did capture the corona/halo with the three spikes so many reported.
My new friend had seen a couple of eclipses before but said this was the best. When I mentioned I
would do better next time if I live that long he said, "It is only 7 years away". I thought for a moment
and he was right! I can drive to the path and take my equipment with me.

I did see some of the well talked about effects:
In the 15 minutes before totality the land darkens, a strange effect since shadows are visible.
When the Sun is a thin crescent it got suddenly dark and the audience goes from quiet to cheering.
I could see the corona with proper glasses, I had thought it required a camera.
We all noticed it got cooler.

I did not see: Shadow coming down the mountains. Crescent shadows on the ground due to grass field.

Tuesday - My Day as a Tourist

Did you forget I took a 4 day trip? We are not done yet.

The morning of my last full day I actually slept past 7 AM. I asked at the hotel lobby for suggesttions
of where to go and a very nice fellow gave me a wonderful list. I visited all but two, the last was a Thai
Restaurant I could not find. Here are those I photographed."


He suggested traveling up Bogus Basin Drive for the view. That is Boise in the distance.


Do you see the bicyclist? That is a challenging climb!


I was driving up and saw, 3000, 4000, 5000 feet and then there was a sign saying, "National Forest".
Huh? I have not seen a significant tree in days. Sure enough they started to appear. By 6000+ feet there were
tall trees. In the Northeast the tall trees STOP at 5000 feet, does Idaho have a reverse treeline?




Hyde Park was a charming part of the City of Boise. Mostly old buildings, some restored.
This was made into a shop called Hyde and Seek.


The weather was so comfortably DRY that this restaurant opens to the street. The grey
appearance is misters that water the plants and cool the guests.


My new friend from Motel 6 suggested I visit "The World Center for Birds of Prey". This is one of
the many Falcons I saw, as well as hawks and condors. In 1982 there were only 22 California Condors
left in the world. Now there are nearly 500, most born at this facility in Idaho. The guide suggested
the Condors in the Grand Canyon I saw should have a tag on thier butt saying, "Made in Idaho".

BTW: I did not see any mention of perhaps Idaho's best known product - potatoes.

Wednesday - Back to Connecticut

My return trip was mostly uneventful. TSA sent me to my own line again, turns out I'm
"Pre-Screened". All I can think of is when I replaced a missing Passport recently I checked
a box to get pre-approved.
I'll spare you the problem with Delta Overbooking....
My cat Stella greeted me at the door, she reported our favorite cat sitters treated her well.

The End

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