To be completely honest, I was not sold on the whole Eclipse thing. My husband was 110% nerding out about it since mid-July and insisted we make it work wherever we happened to be. I blissfully agreed because of the trade off at the moment (so I could get him to hike that day) –but I honestly had no idea what I I was signing up for.
**spoiler alert: the commentary video is at the end of the post – and I apologize for my enthused swearing/animated commentary!**
Rewind a week ago — we decided we would venture to the closest place in totality compared to my parents place in Minnesota – where we’ve been lucky to call home the last couple weeks. True to form, even though we thought we knew where we were going, we didn’t book anything. Dan was getting back from a work trip and we thought we’d play it by ear – which has honestly been the story of our lives the last few months. Some days I think it would be nice to know where we were going in a week, 2 weeks, and maybe have someone come join us. However, this system doesn’t give us that sweet freedom and flexibility I cherish so much. Last minute decisions are not my jam and I was a hot anxiety mess by the time we went to bed on Saturday as we still didn’t know where we were going/staying on Sunday. And it’s not like the places were close together – we’re talking several hours of driving difference. Thankfully this adventure has made me realize these patterns and freak out moments. So I continually choose paths that make me uncomfortable to practice reacting to the uncomfortable. I know it’s crazy. I mean… I’d like to say I was full of rainbows and magic filled trust bombs, but it was more like an ‘oh shit’ storm. I knew the next morning, before we went – wherever we went – would require a long run and some mad yoga. Check.
Anyway…. Orin, Wyoming won the draw because of clouds/rain/weather in literally every other place within reasonable driving distance.. Naturally, hotels and campgrounds sold out like hot cakes. One even booked while we ate breakfast mulling it over. But, like usual, the universe offered up exactly what we needed – a super cute but basic hotel in Rapid City, SD. MyPlace Hotel is a new South Dakota based franchise that turned out to be such a gem- highly recommend it!
Ok, on to the good stuff. Let me just say first of all, the people watching along the way proved to be nothing short of fantastic. I underestimated how many people came out of their basements to nerd out with the world (who hadn’t come out in years). Eclipse/NASA/star related shirts started fluttering gas stations along the way, cars decked out in “honk if you’re chasing the eclipse,” dinner conversations with complete strangers a table away to discuss all the deets, and plenty of pale skin. All very true. I feel like people who never get out of the house, not only got out of the house but drove to Timbuktu with the other swarms of Americans. The small country roads we drove Monday morning from Rapid City, SD to Orin, WY were like a steady stream of Americana headed in one direction. It felt a lot like a movie where everyone is evacuating a huge alien invasion emergency. People were toting gas tanks and coolers on the back of their vans (smart people since a couple of the limited gas stations actually ran out of gas!).
We originally planned to park at a rest area in Orin – well so did all of Colorado and Minnesota it seemed. I’ve honestly never seen a rest area or a gas station (that was across the street) with so many cars. I wish I took a picture, but I was just too stunned. In the lawn, bumper to bumper, lining the entry/exit. So that quickly got scraped and we took a random turn down a dirt road (always a good idea lol). Many people parked along the road side (although you aren’t supposed to and we’re of course rule followers – mostly just Dan). We drove a bit until I started to have FOMO- only 45 minutes until the show began! I suggested turning in an area we saw a handful of cars. Winner winner – it was a day use area for pheasant hunting – which seemed like the oddest of places for a vegan watching the Eclipse to end up …but anyway…headed on a walk first because we all know I have to get my steps in! There were people walking their dogs, people cooking out like at a tailgate, and lots of beautiful scenery. I don’t think we could’ve picked a better spot. Some cars loads parked next to the train tracks – like no way would I be ok with a loud train ruining my eclipse peace.
Got back to Poppyseed a sweaty mess (a toasty 85 and pure sun at the start), sipped some La Croix, and kept peeking through the glasses like all good Eclipse watchers. Everything seemed ‘normal’ until the moon started to get into the 75% coverage zone and then it got chilly! I had to layer up from a tank top to a long sleeve. This was probably also the point I noticed the sunflowers were shifting to try and chase the sun and the little summer critters seemed to have a simmer their summer hum. Birds were noticeably confused. I wish I could have seen how other animals reacted to the oncoming darkness.
And then it hit. The picturesque halo of the sun and the moon’s powerful presence dominating the sky. The temperature dropped even more – my best guess is to the low 70s. Not to mention it was dark! The most fascinating part were the stars – huge, radiant stars. Even a shooting star! At 11:44am! Insane. Truly. I don’t think I expected to see all the stars. That was one giant fantastic curve ball. As was the hush of the critters – lights out, quiet time kind of thing. These 2 and a half minutes were some of the fastest in my life – I couldn’t soak enough of it in. I see why people become lifelong chasers – I wanted more immediately. Once it processed a bit, it made me realize how beautiful and powerful each moment truly is – it’s fleeting beyond measure.
We learn the sun powers everything on Earth, but to truly experience the shift in temperature, the critter behavior, and the confusion of the sunflowers really put everything into perspective. Our world continues to blow me away and I’m so grateful my husband insisted we drive 12hrs to Wyoming….the drive back has been filled with the weirdest traffic – like the small town of Lusk, WY that obviously hadn’t ever had to do traffic control before and had no clue of the concept. They were sweet, just totally clueless. I took a bunch of pictures of the cars, but they kind of stress me out. ..All in all, it was an experience like no other and the memory will continue to blow my mind even if we didn’t have the fancy gear to check out all the details. If you weren’t able to experience this celestial event, I hope this helped to paint a better picture. 🙂