Where will you be on the morning of Monday, August 21? The total solar eclipse that day may be the best reason to plan a road trip over the next few months, but we have other ideas, too.
The last total solar eclipse viewable from our region was in 1979. The next one won’t be until the 22nd century (though one will pass through Northern California in 2045). Viewing a total eclipse can be a once-in-a-lifetime event, which is why the one this summer is creating such a stir.
The celestial phenomenon will sweep eastward across North America from the Oregon Coast to South Carolina. In Oregon, the eclipse will start about 9 a.m. and reach totality at 10:18 in the Willamette Valley and a few minutes later in Eastern Oregon. For about two minutes, as the moon fully shadows the sun, the center of our solar system will disappear except for a shimmering ring around its edge.
Although all of the United States will experience a partial eclipse, millions of people want to travel into the 90-mile-wide path where the sun will be totally obscured. Most hotel rooms and campsites along that swath have long since been reserved for the event. Some first-come, first-served camping will be available on public lands, but competition will be fierce and roadways will be clogged as day trippers jockey for good viewing spots. So now is the time to get in touch with family and friends along the route to arrange a visit.
We are blessed in our region to have such easy access to Canada. Whenever news headlines from the other Washington get you down, it’s a snap to travel across the border to briefly bask in a kinder society. We have special cause to do so this summer as our neighbors to the north celebrate the 150th anniversary of when French and British colonies spanning North America joined in a confederation to create the Dominion of Canada.
If you don’t get your fill of pyrotechnics on July 4, consider the Celebration of Light, which features fireworks over Vancouver’s English Bay on July 29, August 2, and August 5 plus the Shorefest music festival along Sunset Beach those same three days. Both events are free, although VIP seating is available at several venues. Fireworks are also a popular Saturday-night feature at the famous Butchart Gardens near Victoria, though you can enjoy a less-crowded visit on a weekday.
About 60 percent of the population of Richmond hails from Asia, so the suburb just south of Vancouver is the perfect spot for Canada’s take on the huge street festivals that happen on the other Pacific Rim. (“Like traveling to Asia, minus the long flight,” one Seattleite wrote on TripAdvisor.com.) The Richmond Night Market takes place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through early October, with plenty of exotic food choices and entertainment. For more British Columbia travel ideas, see hellobc.com.
The Seattle Mariners barely missed postseason play in 2016, and—despite plenty of injuries—this year’s scrappy squad may still be in contention for a playoff berth come late September. Even if they’re not, they’d appreciate hearing friendly fans in the stands for their last regular-season series, set September 29-October 1 in Anaheim, California.
Angel Stadium is the fourth-oldest active park in Major League Baseball, though it seems newer since it was renovated in the 1990s (by then-owner Disney) to become a baseball-focused venue. Although it’s surrounded by parking lots, you can get to this ballpark by train: Amtrak and Metrolink trains run to the rail station less than a mile away, and there’s also bus service from nearby Downtown Disney. (Yes, Anaheim’s famous theme parks are just a few miles away, too.)
If you’re really True to the Blue, you might tack on the Mariners’ next-to-last series when the team meets the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum September 25-27. The Coliseum is a dump, but tickets and food are unusually cheap by big-league standards. Spend the night in the Bay Area after the September 27 day game, then you’ll have a travel day—just as the Mariners will—to get to Southern California for the final three-game set in Anaheim.
Julie Fanselow is a veteran travel journalist who lives just north of Seattle. The ninth edition of her book Idaho Off the Beaten Path came out in April.