Friday, August 25, 2017

Photos From The Great Eclipse Ride (TGER) 2017, Elkton, Kentucky, August 21, 2017

OK, here are the pictures from the eclipse. We rode down from Indiana into Kentucky trying to get as far into the zone of totality as possible before the Eclipse started. I used the app to see where we were with respect to totality. We stopped in Elkton, KY which was not to far from the center line. The town looked quite prepared. The town square had a festive look to it with a small crowd congregating about the Town Hall. Everyone was very friendly and having a great time. (And it was a sincere good time since they are a dry county!) There was music piped in for the occasion.

 Note: All photos of the sun/eclipse were taken with my Google Nexus 6 phone! (I fried my GoPro, but that is another story for another day). I used the Manual Camera App from Geeky Devs Studio (a great app). This app lets you adjust all of the functions you would find on a 35mm camera (ISO, F-stop, shutter speed, focus, etc.). I used an ISO/CE certified Silver-Black Polymer Sheet solar filter from Thousand Oaks Optical over the lens. I cut a square from the sheet and placed it inside my phone case wedging it over the lens so it was held in place. The morning of the eclipse, I did a test shot of the sun rising over our breakfast spot.
For the actual eclipse, before totality, I set the ISO very low, to about 50, otherwise the glare/flare from the remaining sun 'blossomed" on the image. I tried to keep the shutter speed around 1/250 so as to avoid motion.  So the early eclipse looked like this:

As the sliver of sun got progressively smaller, I progressively adjusted the ISO up.
 I was only disappointed that I didn't get the 'diamond ring' shot either coming or going.
 I used the 4X optical zoom for all the photos.
For this next shot, I zoomed out to get the eclipse and, I believe, Venus, just as a point of light in the lower right.

My friend Aaron, had taken a few pictures of the surrounds during totality:

And I managed to remove my filter and grab one as well.

Then, I reversed the progress as the moon withdrew:

Then we went to the local post office to get our envelopes and first day covers canceled:

Overall, a great ride and a great eclipse experience. Planning is under way for 2024 though we won't have to travel far in upstate NY for totality!

TGER2017 Homeward Bound (II)

"Home where my thought's escaping, 
Home where my music's playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me."
It is another beautiful day. I have Skyline Drive to myself. Very little traffic. The way is silent; the views spectacular. I am meandering at a pace of 35-40 miles per hour. I come around a corner and there is a fawn by the side of the road; undisturbed by my presence. It is cool at over 3000 ft elevation; I am wearing a heavy shirt and my light jacket. But it is an enjoyable chill that accompanies the one running down my spine from the beauty of the moment. This is one of the East Coast's old ladies of roads. I am left with a desire to return and explore on foot.
The rest of trip is anti-climactic. I slab up 81, one of my least favorite highways. Always an accident or construction to cram traffic into a miles long, single lane delay. Tonight, old 81 did not disappoint; we had both, several times over the course of 200 miles across the state of PA. But, in the end, all road lead home, in this case, not just to my "love lying waiting" but to a steak dinner with all the trimmings. What better way to end the TGER2017.

TGER2017 - Homeward bound (I)

As Mr. Burns (no, not that one), said, “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.” It looks like the road to Charleston is paved with stormy weather. So, I turn the wheels northeasterly and begin the journey home. Last night we noted the tail of a bank of storms passing through the mid-Atlantic all the way up the coast. I will slip just west of them. The line of the front accompanies me on the right the majority of the day, but I am dry. I have dodged the weather once more. I take 11W north. Another enjoyable country road. The national forests are to my right. Then I join 219 for a bit. This is the same 219 that I took down on Day 1 next to the Allegheny National Forest. Interestingly, as I was riding the 11, I noticed some debris on the road. A sheriff that I had just passed lit up his lights. I was not going that fast. I pull over at the next driveway. He is slow to get to me. When he does, he apologizes.  "I only turned on my lights so as to safely remove the debris. I didn't mean to pull you over." It turns out he is a biker, too. We had quite a good chat about riding, the Cherohela, Dragon's Tail and, surprisingly, he had high recommendations for 219. This is a road that needs exploring!
But the highlight of the day were the roads through the Monongahela National Forest and the Washington and Jefferson National Forest. From the look of the trees on the map, they look like the same forest but they span the WV and VA border. On the WV side, the road to beat is the 92, "The Pocahontas Trail". Spectacular riding. I then took the 250 across to the VA side and it, too, is great. Several challenging, pronounced, "harrowing", turns. Great fun. I should have continued 250 to 64 and the base of Skyline Drive. Instead, I followed Google Maps on a  meander to Harrisonburg, VA and the upper segment of the Drive, for tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, it was a great meander.

Monday, August 21, 2017

TGER2017 Elkton, Kentucky - Success

We rose, early, to a clear sky just lightening to the east. The cool and the dew gave us just the right frisson of anticipation. We rode south from the Brown County In heading for Kentucky and the zone of totality. 46 was a lovely,winding road through the woods the enjoyment of which was just slightly reduced by an unexpected amount of traffic. An omen of things to come? Fortunately not. We continued on 37 South an enjoyable road, in its own right, that led through the Hoosier National Forest. By now, the heat was building as was the anticipation. We knew we were approaching the zone. We crossed the Ohio River into Owensboro, Kentucky past the Glenmore Distillery. We meandered south going further into the zone passing occasional small gatherings waiting for the eclipse.
We settled on the town of Elkton very close to the centerline of totality. It seemed like the entire town was gathered around the square. There was music piped in from somewhere (a lot of "Here Comes the Sun", etc.). Everyone in town was wearing Eclipse t-shirts,many promoting local businesses. After sandwiches and several bottles of water (ironically, in the heart of burbon country Elkton is is Todd County which is dry!), we found a corner in the shade to watch and wait. We took a bunch of photos that will be added when I have a better connection. The moment of totality came quite suddenly with a great cheer and oohing and aahing from the small crowd. The feel of the situation was wierd. It is twilight with this unusual ring hanging in the sky. The light is a strange color not quite black and white. Both Jupiter and Venus

were easily visible. More photos. Calm. And then, boom, another shriek from the crowd as the retreating diamond ring appears and totality is over. We watch through the filters as the moon retreats. We then sauntered to the post office to have them cancel our first day covers. They were happy to do so with a special cancel they had ordered. We finished another 20 minute ride to our hotel just over the line in Tennessee. Met many friendly people along the way each sharing their eclipse story. I am sure there are many more to come.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

TGER2017 Day 2: Cold to Hot

I see that the theme of this ride will be morning fog. I slept like a log right after dinner. That meant I was up to ride at 5 AM. It was clear and cool as I set out guided this time by solar photons reflected off Venus. The thermometer, at 5AM, said 63 but the riding felt like 53. I had my undershirt, my riding shirt, my heavy shirt ,my light jacket and the safety vest and was just comfortable. Every 100 miles I took a layer off until I rode into Indiana naked at 92° (I am exaggerating only slightly). But the morning ride through the fog laden mountains of West Virginia was quite refreshing especially as the sun rose (verb and color) behind me. This was not light tendrils of upstate NY fog, this was the real deal, a heavy blanket. I stayed at 35-40 mph for the first hour or so. I took mostly 50 West and then 32 West both labeled the Appalachian Highway. Nice enough roads through what is the heartland of America. Farms and small towns. Interestingly, this highway has intersections so you do about 60 then stop for a light every once in a while. Crossed the Ohio River into Ohio and continued straight West. I was mostly alone until I hit (and got lost in) Cinncinati. From there westward, fellow bikers everywhere. Another 400 miles under the belt. Tomorrow into Kentucky for the eclipse! Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

TGER2017 - Day 1 in the bag.

"Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank...." But it's not. Our fog is tendrils of cotton strewn amongst the hills that accompany the Susquehanna. With the sun rising behind me, the fog slowly lifts revealing the tree clad peaks of those hills. The road is empty and quiet. I make good time to my exit from the highway. From hone, the first leg is nearly due West. I join a new secondary road that neither I nor my bike has seen. It parallels the NY/PA border dancing from hill to farm and back again. I turn south at Bradford PA for a beautiful ride through the Allegheny National Forest. The urge to stop and explore is nearly insurmountable but my timeline does not permit. The forest is dark, cool and inviting, Clouds have come in and the radar hints at a pop-up storm so I put on the rain gear. False alarm as within a couple hours the clouds are much more friendly. In fact, its getting quite warm and I finish, sweating,in the high 80s here in WV. Tomorrow, it's, "Westward Ho!" to Indiana to meet Aaron.

The Great Eclipse Ride of 2017 (1)

As I wake, the sky is a crystal clear, deep, Rich azure the likes of which one rarely sees. I am chasing the sun for its eclipse but this morning, the rising sun is chasing me westward. Down through western PA to West Virginia. The XRAY2 photon is accelerated by those that follow me from the East.