If you recall, both the Hubby and I are "Space Enthusiasts", as evidenced by our last year's geekcation of four air and space museums in a very short number of days. (Check that out here if you missed it!)
With little planning and an even smaller car, a Honda Fit, we decided to leave on Sunday, August 20th around noon from our home in southern Manitoba, Canada, and drive at minimum 12 hours south to Nebraska or perhaps Wyoming, to find clear skies to observe the total Eclipse.
I was not the one in charge of making the call but it seemed that Wyoming would be a better bet than Lincoln, Nebraska, so off we detoured to our new location, Casper, Wyoming!
Where to Sleep?
We had a few naps along the way at rest stops, checking the "you are here" spots as we inched closer and closer to the intended destination.
Once we arrived around 6am in Casper to clear skies and all bleary eyed, we were done.
Where does one crash for a few hours after approximately 17 hours on the road? Why a Walmart parking lot of course!
There were motor homes, camper trailers, cars, telescopes and people of all kinds set up in the parking lot! It was crazy, hilarious and still, there was room for our little car.
So we popped into a spot and hung blankets and hoodies in the windows, set our alarms and zoned out for a couple of hours rest before the BIG EVENT!
Alarms rang and disturbed the much needed moment of shut eye. It was nearly time for the Eclipse to begin! And for the hour long wait until total eclipse.
We had found a useful app that was recommended by one of our favourite YouTuber, Smarter Every Day, and it did a great job of counting down each phase of the eclipse!
With our BestBuy glasses, we watched each phase take shape while other space tourists BBQ'd, attempted to take photos with their not so well protected phones and cameras and other swell neighbours look through their excellently set up and well-protected telescopes!
On a side note, I should have worn sunscreen...
As the moon began blocking the light, the temperature began to drop slowly but surely, the light began to look yellowish, kind of like it does when a bad tornado like cloud system might be rolling into town is threatening the prairies.
Things looked pale (see the weird yellowish light in the image below), everyone got quieter and quieter, just waiting for the moment of total eclipse.
The app started the final countdown...3, 2, 1, remove glasses now!
When the big moment of total eclipse came, it was surreal! People exploded into cheers, hoots and hollers, clapping and horn honking! The sky turned navy blue, the moon's black silhouette now in front of the sun, and the sun just burning a slim white ring behind it.
We didn't aim to take pictures of the total eclipse but chose rather to soak in the moment and surroundings, knowing that NASA and others were going to get some amazing photos. Scroll to the end of this post for some cool links!
All around the horizon was a sunset, in 360 degrees, EVERYWHERE (see image below taken during total eclipse), in every direction! Some cars in the lot had their automatic headlight sensors come on as it sensed "dark or nighttime conditions", which the Hubby noticed! It was very cool out and a few stars were visible.
But the dark didn't last long, just over 2 minutes then the app started warning for the need to put glasses back on...3, 2, 1!
Even a sliver of the suns light was blinding (thank goodness for the glasses on for protection). It took about half an hour for the chill to go away and nearly the full hour for the moon to leave the sun in peace and the temperature to return to normal (hour after photo below for comparison).
The Route Home
After having experienced such a fantastic natural wonder, everyone slowly began to pack up, and head back home.
We were a bit tired of being in the little car and stopped for a bite to eat and plan the route home.
As we ventured all the way out to Wyoming, it made me think, wait, I recall Devils Tower, from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, being out in Wyoming?
But how far away were we from it? Would we make it back to Manitoba for Tuesday? Why was I craving mashed potatoes?
My geeky friends, it was only slightly off the main route we were planning to take home, so we certainly weren't going to miss a chance to also cross that view off our bucket list!
We managed to pull up to it right at the twilight hour, a magical time for photo taking, with just one sunset in the west!
Home Sweet Home
After another 17 hours in the car and more napping at rest stops, we arrived home to happy puppies and one loud cat, and minds full of wonderful natural wonders.
If you ever get the chance to travel or view these in person, they are an experience of your lifetime! If you were unable to view them in your local, there are many ways in this day and age to view them virtually, which I have provided below, enjoy:
NASA whole website dedicated to this 2017 eclipse: RIGHT HERE
Smarter Every Day Captures International Space Station transitioning across the eclipse!
Nebraska Carhenge (yes, Carhenge) Eclipse Time Lapse