Super Harvest Blood Moon Eclipse, Or, It’s a Wonder They Ever Survive a Weekend With Me

I’ve encountered more than a few Sunday evenings where I think to myself, “What they hell did we do?! This was a gorgeous weekend and we wasted it doing nothing!”  Well, this morning began with a resolve to not end the day with that statement… an adventure was in order. But to be fair, our typical adventures come with constraints… Candace was working all weekend, which means I had the kids to myself along with a handful of household chores to complete before said adventures could be embarked upon.

So, what to do? Facebook was abuzz with news of the pending lunar eclipse, and this one was a doozy… Super (closer than usual to the earth), Harvest (closest to the Autumnal Equinox), Blood (red hue due to sun’s rays passing through Earth’s atmosphere at such-and-such an angle), and Totally Eclipsed (completely consumed by Earth’s shadow). Easy, we’re gonna drive up to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, have a quick dinner and hot chocolate and then hike up the hill a bit to watch the moon rise… on Pacific coast time, the eclipse would already be in progress by the time the moon began to rise. It was a beautiful plan, and the kids were on board… promises of hot chocolate buy their approval for most excursions.

And then come the adjustments to the plan… I have two chores that must be finished: 1) Finish running irrigation lines from the rain barrels such that water from the gutters doesn’t find its way into our basement (this is Oregon after all and Winter is coming), and 2) Finish playing with the pressure washer that Candace bought for me a few weeks ago, i.e. blast the deck so that it has a few days to dry before treating it… Winter is coming. Add in the odd tantrum, skinned knees, and general care and feeding, and all of a sudden we no longer have time to drive the 90+ minutes up to Mt. Hood in time to witness the rise of the moon. Plus, it was gonna be really cold and windy up there, and we would be home super late on a school night.  Time for a new plan.

Where would we have an open view of the eastern horizon? Duh, I see it every Monday night during our club races… to the river! The next three hours are probably best described through a simple listing of events…

  1. Before leaving the house…
    • Arthur stubs his toe… for a second time this weekend… there’s already a scab on the same toe from yesterday… today’s is worse. The kid will not wear shoes.
    • And soon after, he takes a tumble on the sidewalk and skins his knee.
    • Also, after a glorious summer of relative health, Arthur has acquired a runny nose… invariably, I will acquire this illness before the week is out.
    • Retrieve Henry from roof of neighbor’s house… they’re building a major addition… neighbor girl has convinced Henry that it’s OK to play in the construction site.
  2. Go to dinner at local burger joint. Dad is awesome purveyor of burgers, fries and milkshakes… and apple slices for good measure.
    • Despite having all children go potty before leaving the house, all children now announce the need to go again.  One child has questionable bowel movement. (Sorry, this is a family program and family’s have children who poop…  and rarely at convenient times.)
    • Already 30 minutes late to check-in for club boat reservation.
  3. Finally, on our way to the marina!!
    • Child with questionable bowel movements now declares urgent need to go poop again.
      • We’re either 10 minutes from home, or 6  minutes from the marina… marina it is.
      • After 6 minutes of distractive conversation and one very determined child, we make it to the marina… am so glad I splurged for the marina key card that grants us access to the bathrooms at the top of the dock ramp!
      • “Are you feeling OK now?  Should we just go home or are you OK to go out on the boat to watch the moon?”… “I want to watch the moon.”
  4. Casting Off
    • Seems I’m not the only one with the brilliant idea of watching the moon from the river… the docks are hoppin’.
    • Everything is going quite smoothly… kids are behaving pretty well while I prep the boat, until…
    • I begin the process of starting the outboard to let it warm up while I finish the rest of the boat prep… on my third pull of the starter cord, I hear Arthur announce his wish to help, followed promptly by the collision of my elbow with his face. I vaguely remember being warned of this scenario in an entry-level sailing class.
    • The next 10 minutes are consumed with consolations.  Fortunately, his three-year-old nose is still pretty smooshy, so no major damage done.
    • We’re off!
  5. Did I check the weather?
    • It’s pretty windy… 15-20 knots feels like a lot in a 22ft boat with three little kids for ballast. But I had no intentions of raising sails… learned that lesson long ago… single-handing with three little ones is not cool.
  6. Dropping Anchor
    • We head up river (down wind) about a half mile, find a nice spot, turn around head into wind, and drop anchor.  On a 22ft boat, this is a manual affair.
    • The small, 20lb-ish Danforth seems inadequate for the conditions, but once I let out enough scope, she holds like a champ.
    • Now, we wait for the moon.
  7. “I really have to poop!”
    • Given the context of the last two hours with this child, I take this declaration seriously.
    • Reluctantly, up comes the anchor… sunset is well past, but I still haven’t seen the moon. WTF?
    • En route back to the marina, Eldest Child declares, “Dad, check out the moon!” Sure enough there it is, well above the horizon, but the darkest moon I have ever seen (and I’ve seen my share of lunar eclipses)… My eyes have passed over this fuzz several times tonight… assumed it was a small puff of cloud.
    • Regardless, mission accomplished.. we got on the water and saw a fantastic eclipse!
  8. Day ain’t over yet…
    • Graciously accepted docking assistance from mildly enebriated club folk.
    • Made short order of closing down the boat… it’s easy when you didn’t so much as glance at a halyard or sheet.
    • We head into the clubhouse to say goodnight to Schmoopy (club cat) and… Arthur decides the other knee is woefully unscathed… dock concrete has to be some of the least forgiving concrete when paired against skin. More consolations.

Had this been an effort amongst a group of seasoned sailing adults, it would have been considered a total failure, but my standards are considerably less rigorous…

  1. We left the dock.
  2. We left the marina.
  3. We dropped and set the anchor in challenging conditions.
  4. We weighed anchor (did I mention the 8-year old had the helm for this maneuver?).
  5. We saw the eclipse.
  6. We returned to the dock… with the same number of crew we departed with.
  7. No one pooped their pants.

It’s not as glamorous as cruising the Caribbean, but it’s a start.  And we have a live-in nurse/mother/wife at home to mend the wounds.

Here’s a bit of video from our departure… I was a bit too preoccupied to remember to start the camera again after this.


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