Now from where I left off last week, we still had a couple of days before the main event. Most of Sunday was spent doing a “dry” run. My husband set up the canopy and a couple of chairs. The eclipse takes a couple of hours from start to finish so you do need to have some shade and a place to set your bum.
The motel had a large gravel turnout for semi-trucks and that’s where my husband wanted to set up. In fact, he had scoped out the area on Google Earth weeks before we arrived. The primary concern was to make sure his Canon T3i and laptop were communicating. My husband is the “gear head” in the family. He brought his camera, laptop and solar telescope on this trip. Doesn’t sound like much until you factor in the tripods, lenses, and sundry other small and irreplaceable accessories. We had to attach a platform to our Prius, effectually extending our trunk, to accommodate his gear. In contrast: Just give me yarn and two wooden needles and I’m good 🙂
The dry run was successful and the rest of the day was quiet. We were conserving our energy. After an early dinner at a local (and really, really good) BBQ, we walked around a bit, trying to wind down so we might sleep. It was a lovely evening.
And then we saw that an RV had set up in the gravel turnout where my husband had been earlier that day. Dang! We were afraid of that and yet Greg hadn’t wanted to park the car out there too soon. Worried that other eclipse chasers might turn up in the wee hours of the morning and take all the good spots, Greg parked our car in the turnout, on the other side. At least it was still visible from our window.
The moon was scheduled to “kiss” the sun around 10:22 am and move across, with totality at about 11:43 am. We would have totality (the moon completely covering the sun) for about 2 minutes. Everyone at the motel was up early, in part because no one really slept, including us. We were all on pins and needles.
And then there were the newcomers. To our disappointment, a trio of young people from Colorado were parked right next to us. There was plenty of space still in the turnout, but, no, they had to park right next to us. They had only driven up to see the eclipse, to drink, smoke, whistle loudly, whoop and holler and make a general nuisance of themselves. The less said about them, the better.
Of course, I had to take a “before” picture.
Once the partial eclipse began, nothing else matter. I spent the next hour viewing the movement of the moon through my eclipse shades, a pair of solar binoculars, or the solar telescope. Although I don’t consider myself a gear head, I spent a lot of time looking through the solar telescope and trying to take pictures. The following is my favorite.
Up until totality, there was little evidence that anything extraordinary was happening. The sun was blindingly bright right until the moon snapped shut over it.
For the photo above, you’ll have to use your imagination because what I saw with my naked eye was a black disk ringed with white fire. That’s the best description I can give. It was the most beautiful sight ever in my life. I did get choked up. My eyes were wet but I didn’t cry. I didn’t want to miss anything. I only had two minutes to sear this image on my brain.
But I did take the time to look behind me and see … twilight.
Although the total eclipse lasted just over 2 minutes, it felt like 8 seconds. It was too soon when the first sliver of sun emerged and everything went back to normal. I can understand now why some people become eclipse chasers. Thankfully, because of Greg’s expertise, we will get to relive the experience over and over again. And this, dear friends, is what I saw with my naked eye …
My husband is a perfectionist so it will be a long while before he’ll have the time lapse ready for viewing. But he is also playful …
Next up: the drive from Hell and on into Santa Fe, New Mexico!
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.