festivals Skoolie Bus Adventures

Gazing at the Sun: Global Eclipse Gathering

“I can’t believe we’re dealing with this bullshit just to watch someone turn the sun off for two minutes,” my dear friend Jeff crackled over our walkie talkies. It was 11:30 PM on Wednesday August 16th. My caravan of friends, spread out between 4 vehicles, had been sitting in line to get into the Symbiosis Eclipse Festival in Big Summit Prairie, Oregon since roughly noon that same day.

We were exhausted, buzzed on alcohol, and we just wanted to get into the festival grounds to quickly setup camp and crash until the next morning.

The start of this festival was rough, one of the roughest I’ve ever experienced. And while the struggle was…oh so real by spending a week in a dusty, sometimes wildfire smoke filled prairieland, I look back on this week with nothing but a full heart and contentment and so much love.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to properly recap this festival.  This wasn’t a normal festival experience, mostly marked by the unique solar event that took place, but I’ve also never been to a festival of this scale. The stages were gorgeously crafted pieces of artwork, the actual installation artwork was massive and immersive, water slides were built for the lake (like, what?!), music blared for 24 hours to the point I didn’t think I’d be able to fall asleep without psy-trance bumping in the background upon our return to normal life.

And most important of all, being with the wonderful humans I get to call my friends, that all helped each other struggle through the week, and who I shared the moment of totality with.

Months ago, when I was trying to plan festival season with my partenr, we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to Eclipse. We were trying to focus on a finding a home but I pushed…and we got tickets. “Was this going to be worth it?” plagued me for months.

As the moon completely covered the sun, and we all stared up at the totality without eyewear, 30,000+ people howled at the sky and yelled “I love you!” to the strangers around them, and I looked in awe and wonder at the dusk colored sky, a planet twinkling off to the right of the sun that you wouldn’t normally be able to see at this time of day.

In those moments, I realized I needed this. To be reminded that despite being plagued by an onslaught of terrible news all year, despite the hate being spread elsewhere, that there still is love and good vibes in the world.

Even if the rest of the week had been terrible, those moments where we watched the universe dance alone would have been worth it.

I won’t go into details about all the music — every artist I’ve seen the past 10 years was there so you do the math, but Justin Martin’s 4 hour set in the middle of the night was amazingly bonkers and so damn good.

There was so much to see, so much to experience. Despite being ready to go home when we did, I left a tiny part of me in Big Summit Prairie.

Here we are, weeks months later, I still get chills when I think about the eclipse, and I feel so inspired. There is so much I want to create and yet it’s hard to find the time — we’ve been putting the house together finally. There’s yard work to be done. So many improvement projects.

So if anything, my goal for next year is to be able to take night photos at festivals. I went to a photography workshop. I started reading a book on exposure and shooting in manual mode. As the days get shorter, more time at home will present itself to create the things I want to create.

For now, one thing at a time while holding onto those special moments I shared with my best friends at the Eclipse.


Moment of Totality by Robert Champion


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