Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Solar Eclipse and Wet Chickens

This day brought a once in a lifetime event here—a solar eclipse that would last 5 minutes and will come back around again in 300 years. The forecast predicted rain and clouds, but that didn’t stop my class and I from getting up early and going to the Century Park in the Pudong section of Shanghai.

The rain was holding out and we were able to catch a glimpse of the sun through the clouds on our way into the park. After we camped out on the lawn near some trees, the clouds kept rolling in. I hoped for “rolling by” but they parked there and just about as the eclipse was full, it started raining, and then pouring. We had to break camp and head for the trees. We stood in the rain and the dark and it was quite an unusual feeling.

When it got light out again, the rain let up a little and we agreed that we should take advantage of being in the park. We agreed to rent a bike cart and we rode around. The bike people warned us that the umbrella built into the bike “not avoid the rain” but we ignored that and the five of us crammed into our 4-person cart.

Down the road a bit, it started pouring and the bike people were right. Water was pooling on the roof and dripping non-stop down our backs, into our laps, and on our heads, etc. We decided that we could use our umbrellas in the cart, so we coordinated and re-directed the rain. Plan C was to park our cart in a dry spot, so we did some off-roading to get to a wedding tent looking thing. We waited out the rain and when it let up, I helped push our cart out of the mud.

Sally, one of my students, told me that we were like wet chickens as we were using Kleenex to move the water around on the cart. Despite the unfortunate rain and clouds during an otherwise hot, clear and sunny week; a good time was had by all. We agreed that if the day had been perfect, the solar eclipse wouldn’t have been so memorable. Besides, now we have an excuse to meet up again in 300 years to see the next one. I’m bringing the drinks.

Our eclipse party

Getting darker!

The full on eclipse under the safety of our umbrellas

Our cart at the rest stop

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