Sunday, August 20, 2017

A road trip to the Great American Eclipse

Not since the Civil War has the country been so completely split, so upheaved, so divided into two camps—going to the eclipse, and not going. 

Going to the totality, I mean, the total eclipse experience in which half the U.S. population tries to cram itself into a 75-mile wide swath of land 2800 miles long. It is deeply appropriate that this rare spectacle on the American continent will result in the most American of pastimes—massive traffic jams and novelty t-shirt sales. 

My friends have been planning their trip to the totality zone for years, but I did not commit. I figured it would occur around the time school started back up for my wife and son, and I should be around for support. Then I caught eclipse fever, and support be damned. 

I caught it late, with less than three weeks to spare, and when I checked, lodgings for one night in the area I wanted to visit cost $1000. For that kind of money, I had better be seeing “Hamilton” get between me and the sun.

Luckily my long-planning friend said just come out and we’ll find a place for you, so as you read this, I am driving across Wyoming. To get in the mood, I wanted to get an audio book with a story set in the state, but “Brokeback Mountain” was not owned by any of my libraries. 

Others, like “Savage Thunder” and “Trailer Trash” were already checked out. I finally settled on “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There is no Wyoming connection, but it involves people being awed by an incredible spectacle, so close enough.

I have watched several videos online of people experiencing a total solar eclipse, so I can observe proper eclipse etiquette. Evidently, to fit in, I should do this:

As the moon starts to blot out the sun, say “Whoa, it’s getting darker.”

When the eclipse is in full effect, express my awe by whooping like I am at a football game, perhaps my first ever football game, after drinking my first ever beer.

That pretty much covers it.

Since we are spending the night outside the totality zone, then driving 80 or 90 miles into it on eclipse morning, a monster traffic jam is my greatest fear. That, and there is currently a 20% chance of rain. But whatever happens, the t-shirt is going to be epic. 

. . .