Monday, August 21, 2017

Ready For Totality

Rolled out of bed at 4:40 am. in a Wyoming hotel room. 

Hit up McDonalds and Starbucks, then rolled about 150 miles north. Skipped off the interstate and zoomed through increasingly smaller county roads and towns until we narrowed in on a single lane of asphalt leading to the middle of nowhere. Empty scrub land. No trees. No barns, no houses, no people. Cows wandered in the road.  

Eventually located the marker we were looking for, hung a quick right onto an even tinier gravel lane, and soon found ourselves exactly where we wanted to be: on the shores of Lake Cameahwait. 

And smack dab in the middle of the Path of Totality. 

^ Took the dog for a swim. Set up our little base camp. Wandered around and chatted with our few and far between neighbors, either families with young kids. millennial hippies, or senior folk with expensive camera gear. 

Finally, finally it was time. Broke out our eclipse glasses and began looking up. 

Slowly, mysteriously, but ever so slightly discernibly, the black, unseen moon began to creep across the face of the sun. 

In our glasses, this looked like a black disc was sliding in front of a yellow disc. The color of the sun, distorted by the glasses but consistent with our image of this big ball of fire, was deep and boldly yellow.

Took our glasses on and off, on and off as an hour ticked slowly by. About halfway through, noticed that the sunlight was perceptibly fading. Tiny shadows appeared in unusual detail, the hot Wyoming morning took on a gradual chill the ground looked strange and unfamiliar. Suddenly flashed back to the partial solar eclipse I saw as a four year old. I'd forgotten all about that surreal quality of light. But seeing it again brought me right back to my toddler experience. 

 I could not believe this was finally happening. 

Two minutes before the moon completely covered the sun, my fourth- born had a stroke of genius. "Let's move up to the top of the hill," she suggested, "so we can see farther in every direction."


Scrambled to gather up our chairs, cameras, and one soaking wet and happily compliant dog, and rushed up the hill as the final moments before Totality ticked by. 

^ "Look!" My daughter stopped as she reached the top of the hill and turned to face in the opposite direction of the sun. "Here comes the umbra."

What appeared to be a low, heavy storm cloud or the dust stirred up by a stampede of wild horses, came the dark shadow of the moon, racing across the ground at twice the speed of sound. The total eclipse closed in on us.

We had made it just in time. 

* * * * *

Here's the full story of my odyssey to the Great American Solar Eclipse

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