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Depoe Bay, 'Ground Zero' for eclipse, prepares for historic event

As the moon's shadow first touches land at Depoe Bay, Ore. on Monday, Aug. 21, some people will get a millisecond head start because they'll be out in the Pacific Ocean on a whale watching tour. (KATU Photo)

All it took was 20 minutes for Kit Stevenson to sell every ticket to her solar eclipse whale watching tour.

"Everybody seems to understand what they're getting in to," Stevenson said, referring to the expected crowds.

Oregon will see an influx of an estimate one million people for the eclipse. Many of them will head to Depoe Bay, where the eclipse will first make landfall.

"It's nothing to dread. It's a one-day event. It's going to be spectacular," Stevenson said. "And then it'll be over."

Stevenson's two boats will leave round 9 a.m. for a two-hour tour. While the vast majority of people will be waiting for the eclipse on land, the people out on the water will experience it milliseconds before everyone else.

A few storefronts down is Trade Winds Charter. Eva Harmon greets people all summer long. For the past few weeks the town has been abuzz with people gearing up for the eclipse.

"It's really starting to pump up now because so many places are sold out," Harmon said. "People are looking to come down here -- it's ground zero. Everyone wants to come down here and see it."

While there's great enthusiasm, potential tourists and locals aren't universally excited.

"Most locals that I've talked to are all probably not going to be driving around much that day," Harmon said. "There's only one road. We'll figure it out."

Stores are already selling solar eclipse glasses and t-shirts, which advertise Depoe Bay as "Ground Zero."

"I'm excited about it myself," said Robin Embree, who was visiting from California.

Embree bought her glasses, which she plans on using while visiting friends in Central Oregon. She says she would prefer to be at Depoe Bay for the eclipse, but unfortunately she doesn't have a place to stay.

"Once in a lifetime thing to be able to see it. I wanted to go and view it," Embree said.

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