The Great American Eclipse

The Art of The Long Weekend Pt. 2

If you read Pt. 1, you know all about the awesome camping experience and my run-in with the moose family. Camping alone would have made for the best long weekend (especially when my birthday was part of it.) Why stop there when you are within driving distance of a point of totality for the great american eclipse of 2017?

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Getting To Casper, WY

We got home from camping on Sunday afternoon and the closest point on the path of totality for the eclipse was 4:45h away without traffic. We had decided early on that we would drive in the night to avoid the apocalyptic traffic we had been hearing about. The more we watched the traffic on waze, we realized that going there probably wasn’t going to be a problem. The plan was to start driving around midnight, but we ended up pushing that back to 3am. I would say we timed it perfectly – we were able to stop on the way north and had time to get situated once we got to Casper, WY.

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The Eclipse

The town of Casper has an amphitheatre called David’s Station in the center of its’ main commercial district which, rumor has it, was built specifically for the eclipse festivities. It was the perfect spot to watch the big event. We found a seat along the edge where we would have a wall to lean up against and set up the picnic we brought. When we first sat down there were about 30 other people in the area. Even with that small number the energy was high. Each person’s anticipation radiated from them like the heat off the pavement.

As the clock got closer to 11:26am (the time of totality in Casper, WY) more and more people gathered in the amphitheater. The group of teens who thought they were too cool to be there, the family with 4 kids running in circles while their parents repeatedly reminded them to wear their protective glasses, the couple that had made a road trip from Baltimore – everyone was ready.

Then the light started to change. The warm, bright hues that had been washing over everyone providing a nice sunburn started to shift to a greenish blue. The temperature has dropped 2 degrees.

Seconds later, it looked like a storm was coming. The light that hits right before a tornado came over everyone, giving them a green glow. The temperature has dropped 4 degrees.

A minute passed and it was dark. For a second you could see nothing – without the sun shining, the protective lenses black everything out. Once you remember to remove the glasses and look around, everything around you is a silhouette. The temperature has dropped 7 degrees.

For 2:27 minutes you can stare directly at the sun, glasses free, and see its corona. In photos it looks like rays of light coming straight out from every side. I don’t think the photos do it justice. I saw curved, whip-like shapes surround the black silhouette of the moon. Each one glowing as it moved.

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All the Feels

I’ve never felt so small and huge at once, surrounded by so many people geeking out over the same phenomenon. After this experience I can totally understand why people spend their lives chasing eclipses. In fact, Tim is already trying to figure out the best place to be for the one that will pass through Chile in 2019, LOL.

With all the luck we had on the way up, we expected traffic on the way home. Our best guess was 8 hrs. Even going in with expectations of massive amounts of traffic did not prepare us for what we sat in. The worst part was that when we first got in the car the gps said 5 hrs and we would be home by 8:30 and then the beep tone that waze has letting you know there’s a delay started going off every 15 minutes 🙄 It ended up taking us somewhere between 10 and 11 hours to get back. My brothers had to go to school early the next morning and my sister was going to be packing to leave for college. Tim and I had camped all weekend so we were already low on sleep and we had been in charge of driving to Casper which meant we slept about 4 hours that night. Despite the state of pure exhaustion the entire group was in the following day, the trip was so worth it. It was the kind of experience that we will all remember for our entire lives.