My quest for the Sun

Since the 1760s explorers have been traveling hither and yon for a look at a transit of Venus across the Sun. Captain Cook went to Tahiti. Mason and Dixon, before they started drawing lines, went to South Africa. So, too, I follow in that same tradition with a perilous trek from Seattle to Red Bluff, California in an attempt to view the last Venus transit until the year 2117.

The first day of my journey gave only the slightest glimpse of the Sun, which drilled through the clouds south of Salem, Oregon only for a few moments before going into hiding. There was a spectacular thunderstorm going on as I passed through Eugene, featuring the sort of overwrought clouds that are typically associated with the eye of Sauron.

I took up lodging in Canyonville, Oregon, known principally as the home of the Seven Feathers Resort and Casino. I opted for somewhat more mundane lodging at the Holiday Inn Express in town, opening up a rich possibility of Tuesday quips, “I’m not an astronomer…” The Inn has a marvelous view of the casino, and of I-5.

Closed. Rats!

The life of a traveling astronomer is fraught with peril. The top dining choice in Canyonville, Serafino's, was closed Monday night. Best of luck to Katie and JD.

The Inn’s guest guide listed four local restaurants, and Internet research helped me decide on Serafino’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, a small, family-style joint in town. As I headed toward the restaurant on a drizzly Monday night, I passed another of the inn’s choices, a Mexican restaurant–closed. Soo, too, was Serafino’s. Normally open on Monday’s, the eatery had a sign on the door explaining they’d be closed June 3-5 for a wedding. Missed it by that much.

Thus, it was back to the Creekside, right next door to the inn, but part of a big truckstop complex connected with the casino. I’ve never before been in a restaurant that included ads for tires and motor oil on the menu. It also had phones in every booth, presumably so truckers could keep in touch with their sweeties. Trepidation aside, my ribeye steak with steamed veggies and rice pilaf was just fine. That, plus two glasses of Firesteed Pinot Noir, a slice of carrot cake as big as my head, and tip came to just $39.

There’s no sign of the Sun here on transit morning (apart from the fact that it is light outside.) Cloudy and rainy. Onward to California, where the forecast is favorable for Venus viewing.

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