Totality

So, we decided to take a last-second trip after watching an inspiring TED talk. The speaker passed on great advice that I would now love to pass on to you. “You owe it to yourself to see Totality at least once in your life before you die!” For our local friends, you won’t have to leave home in 2024 to witness it. For those not local to San Antonio, come on down and join the party!

When I came back to work yesterday everyone kept asking "How was the eclipse? Was it worth it?" Hell, yes! It was absolutely worth it and if I could, I would love to spend the rest of my life chasing them all across the globe.

Charles, Mariana, Anne and I packed up the car Saturday night with plans on leaving the house at 4am. It was a little over a 12-hour drive to St. Joseph without stops, (although more like 16 hours with this crew). We were lucky enough to have purchased the last of 700 camping spaces at Rosecrans Memorial Airport. I figured that staying at the airport overnight where another 40,000 would join us the day of the eclipse would help us avoid the rush into the area.

 We made it to Kansas City around 14 hours after we left Texas and stopped to check out a local Barbecue and Blues place called B.B.'s Lawnside BBQ, that Charles really wanted to try out. Charles was so in love with KC. He told us all about how great the city was and gave many examples why, this was all before he had ever been.  When we pulled up to the restaurant, the place was packed. Once we got inside it wasn't hard to see why. The BBQ smelled delicious and I have to trust Charles when he says the ribs were the best he has ever had. There was a local blues band playing while we waited for our to-go order and they were fantastic. The atmosphere of this place was just amazing! I loved thinking of all the old blues artists that had played in that very spot, music is life guys.

 It ended up taking up about 16 hours to get to "St. Jo" after all of the stops. Charles was so thrilled to stop in Oklahoma once he saw there was a Whataburger off an exit… nothing tests a friendship like being in the car with someone for 16 hours straight. Mariana basically slept the entire way there, she’s younger so she can sleep folded up for longer periods of time (this trip has made me realize I'm getting older). We seriously stopped more for food than we did for gas or restroom breaks. We also made sure to get pictures each time we passed a state line. Take a look at our adventures page for all the photos we took along the way.

The camping area at the airport was located in a huge field… it felt like we had to drive 20 minutes in before we got to the designated area. Once we got into the tent area and debated on the correct way to park, we began to setup our site. Charles had his own tent and the us girls shared a tent. This is the part where I should let you know that my wife is NOT a camper. I went out a few days before and got a huge queen air mattress so she wouldn't wake up on the ground. After our tent was situated with our inflatable bed, up we noticed that we were unprepared compared to those around us. People had entire kitchens and lawn games and footballs. We had a tent. In preparation for our trip I kept telling myself "it’s just one night". I think that mindset made me forget some essential things like a fan, (even though Anne specifically requested central cooling), a light, and drinks! Eventually, Charles and Mariana left and made about 467 stops to track down some of these things. Unfortunately, by the time they got back I was ready for bed. It was great to sleep under the stars, there was very little light since we were in the middle of nowhere so they were shining bight for us.

We woke up the next knowing that there was a small chance for rain and an even bigger chance of heavy cloud coverage that would block the sun. Our fellow neighbors were discussing packing up and driving 2 hours west where the cloud coverage wasn't so bad. After walking around and running into some local astronomers we decided to chance it and stay put. Food trucks were out serving breakfast for all the campers, which was good because I just so happened to forget the 3 boxes of uncrustables Anne had bought for this trip. (Yeah- I know. No central cooling, no uncrustables… no “happy wife, happy life” here. Lol. More cars started rolling in around 8:00am to get a good parking spot. Vendors also showed up to sell shirts and I was even able to get a local new paper with a galactic headline!

Anne and Charles attempted to work for a few hours by charging phones and laptops in the car… I don’t think they were very successful. It was around 11:40 am when it was finally time for the eclipse to start. We heard the first cheers as the moon started to cross in front of the sun. At this moment, it was all worth it… all the stops on the way, the struggles with camping in the heat and stress of not being able to work remote... that all faded away " We made it guys!"

Our excitement lasted for about 45 minutes or so before I noticed the big storm clouds quickly moving over us. I packed up my chair and not even 5 minutes later the rain started. This was not just a light sprinkle but a huge downpour. With the rain, the sun was gone and the eclipse was out of view. The four of us took cover in the car and watched as everyone around us started to leave. Looking outside the clouds were so thick and there wasn't a break in sight. "It’s your call…" Anne said as she looked at me, displeased, from the backseat. We just drove 16 hours and I wasn't leaving. Totality would happen rain or not.

Watching the clock move closer to 1:06pm (the time of Totality) and hearing the rain beating down was so discouraging. Then at about 12:55pm I looked to my left (I’m not good with directions) and I saw a break in the clouds… a small hole with some light shining though. I jumped out of the car around the same time as the others who decided to stay, did. The rain stopped and everyone cheered, we looked up and there it was. We had missed most of the eclipse but mother nature decided to give us a break and let us see the last few minutes of it before Totality and man was it beautiful.

I immediately began to cry…. it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life, besides my wife of course. The clouds form the rain added an extra effect to the sky, the "ring" around the sun was breathtaking, literally.  About 2 minutes before Totality the temperature began to drop, slowly it started to get darker, as if someone had a dimmer for the world. At this point I'm still crying and cheering all at the same time, everyone around us is cheering and clapping. Behind us was a multicolored sunset, and then darkness. Like the calm before the storm it felt quiet. I remember it being silent, although when I watch the video Anne took I am clearly yelling "WOOOOOOO!!" The darkness lasted for 2 minutes and 38 seconds and just as it did before, it was if someone turned up the dimmer and slowly the light came back. After this the rain was gone the clouds still loomed. I had a smile on my face that could not be wiped off, I couldn't believe it all worked out. It was like the rain was needed to make it more special so that I would appreciate the beauty that much more.

Shortly after it was over, we headed home. We all had to be back at work on Tuesday morning and still had that dreaded 12-hour drive ahead of us. We ended up taking less stops on the way home since we all took turns sleeping. At 5:00am we made it to the house, unpacked and all went on our way. Mariana had to be in the earliest at 7am, she was the official MVP of the Eclipse 2017 Road Trip. Congrats kid, you earned it!

I am now addicted and want to see this as often as I can. The next Totality event is in Chili in 2019. I am working on convincing Anne to go. I hope you all enjoyed the eclipse from wherever you were in the world. It was something that has changed me and something I’ll cherish forever. Our next adventure will be Friday when we travel to Houston to see Coldplay, we waited close to a year for this concert!

Oh, and as for Anne, if you ask her what she thought of the eclipse she will nonchalantly reply, "it was cool". (How could she?!)

May the force be with you,

Jess

**Picture credit for this post goes to my amazing wife who was snapping away while I was crying my eyes out.