I had a trip planned for this summer to see the total eclipse that was crossing the United States. A friend was going to come with me. We had planned an itinerary to see the eclipse along with some seeing some of the Minnesota Twins minor league affiliates.
Here was our plan:
Sunday morning: Drive to Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Sunday afternoon: Attend Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball game
Sunday evening/Monday morning: Drive to eclipse viewing location determined by cloud cover
Monday afternoon/evening: Drive to Chattanooga, Tennessee
Tuesday: Attend Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game
Wednesday: Either drive home OR
Wednesday: Drive to Elizabethton, Tennessee and watch the Elizabethton Twins baseball game
Thursday: Drive home
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. My friend had to cancel due to medical reasons. I decided that I still wanted to see the eclipse, even if I had to go by myself. The baseball games will have to wait for another year.
Now, I needed to find a spot to watch the eclipse. The first thing to think about was cloud cover. But also, because this was projected to be the most watched total eclipse ever, hotels had been booked full in the path of the eclipse for a long time. I knew my trip was going to consist of driving there and back without much rest. I also had to worry about roads and potential traffic.
I was watching the weather forecasts the week before trying to figure out where there would be no clouds. I found a couple of websites that had cloud cover predictions projected out 84 hours.
The spot with the longest time of totality was in Missouri, so I started looking there. For a while, it looked like the spot where the line of totality crossed Interstate 35 was going to be cloud free. That spot had the advantage of probably being the quickest drive. Then the forecast started changing showing cloud cover in that area.
It looked like there would be an opening in the clouds in Nebraska, but it kept moving every time the forecast updated. I didn’t want to be having to drive in traffic trying to find an opening in the clouds as the time of the eclipse approached.
I started examining other possibilities. It looked like there might be a hole in the clouds in Tennessee. But, that also looked like it would be the closest place without cloud cover to most of the major population centers out east – New York, Boston, Pittsburg, Philadelphia and others. Maybe it would be too crowded. And again, the opening kept shifting location.
Wyoming had always looked like it would be cloudless. Despite the longer drive time, I decided it would be my best bet to get a good look at the eclipse. I started looking closer at maps of Wyoming to pick a location. I eventually settled on a spot just south of Lusk, Wyoming.
Starting from the time of the eclipse I had to work backwards to determine when I would leave. I figured leaving Sunday evening would get me there with time to spare.
I had been hoping to have company on the trip, but it looked like I would be driving alone. I decided I would post on Facebook that I had room available in my car if anyone was interested. I got a response to my post. I wouldn’t have to drive alone.
My post was answered by a friend I’ve known for years. Our older children were classmates with the same teacher for eight years at the Minnesota Waldorf School. We’ve kept in touch ever since. Her younger child, who had just graduated from college, wanted to see the eclipse. He had identified the same area in Wyoming to see the eclipse.
And so, we left. Starting at 6pm, Sunday evening, we had a bit more than seventeen and a half hours until the eclipse began with totality starting about an hour and a half later.
I’ll cover the road trip and eclipse in my next post. Spoiler alert – my perseverance pays off
Tim Kane's memories, musings and updates.