Follow the Sun

As you’ve probably heard, there’s going to be an total eclipse of the sun tomorrow.  It’s scheduled for roughly 1:00 in my neighborhood, which also happens to be just on the northern-most boundary of the path that is supposed to provide optimal viewing.  Living  in an area where I get to see the eclipse seemed like good news to me, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that there was a darker side to this event (and I’m not just talking about what happens when the sun is blocked by the moon.)  Apparently, thousands upon thousands of people are expected to head to my neck of the woods to view this rare phenomenon, and for the past couple of weeks the local news has been filled with dire predictions about all the havoc they are going to wreak.

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Not a single hotel room will be available.  Traffic will be a nightmare and all highway exit ramps will be blocked as people pull over, get out of their cars and  stare into the sky.  Gas stations may run out of gas and grocery stores may run out of food.  If you are in need of an ambulance or other emergency vehicle, chances are high that they will not be able to get to you in time.  And so on and so on.  You’d think we were anticipating a natural disaster that would make Hurricane Katrina look like a mild inconvenience.

It’s not that I take official warnings lightly.  I learned to pay attention the hard way back in 1982, when we had a blizzard that dropped about eighteen inches of snow on St. Louis.  Bizarrely, it was accompanied by lightening, and my husband and I sat in our living room during the whole thing, playing cards and occasionally peering out the window at the snow storm.  The next morning we woke up to a city that was completely shut down, and I realized that we were just about out of groceries.  I pulled on my snow boots and trudged up the street to the neighborhood grocery.  I have never seen so many empty shelves in my life.  I think there was maybe two cans of beans and a jar of pickles left in the entire store.

These days, when even the tiniest bit of snow is forecast, I do exactly the same thing everybody else in St. Louis does:  I rush to the grocery store and stock up on enough groceries to last me through Spring if necessary.  Especially bread and milk.  And I don’t even like milk.

But when the big day arrives tomorrow, I’m not going to stay at home, guarding my well-stocked pantry and full tank of gas.  I’m going to go to the animal shelter to walk dogs the way I always do on Monday morning, and afterwards I’m going to my mother’s house because she has invited some friends and neighbors over for lunch and eclipse-viewing.  I’ll avoid the highways, but just in case I do get stuck in traffic and don’t make it to Mom’s house, I’m keeping my approved viewing glasses in the car with me.  One way or another, the odds are good that I’ll get to see the eclipse.

I believe in heeding warnings, and I definitely believe in being prepared.  But what I believe in most is using a little bit of good old-fashioned common sense.

63 thoughts on “Follow the Sun

    • Be glad you live in Australia! We have had so much hype around the eclipse that part of me just wanted to ignore the whole thing. But I’m glad I didn’t. We had no traffic problems where I was driving, so I was able to make it to my mom’s house in plenty of time to see the eclipse. It was very cool! I had no idea how dark it would get, as it was almost like late dusk. I have to say that nothing beat nature when she decides to put on a show!

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      • I came onto your site to see if you made it and I’m happy to see you did. And you’re neither starving nor stuck in traffic until next week. I posted pics of ours but not of the sun. Of the cool crescent shaped shadows everywhere. Sounds like we didn’t get quite as dark as you did as we only had 98% totality. Amazing that such a tiny percentage can make such a difference. People in NC and SC went crazy for the whole thing. It was lots of fun. I wouldn’t go as far as a man on the news in Columbia said. “It was one of those moments that equal watching a child be born…” Hmmm, not for me. But it was a special moment like an “I remember where I was when…” kind of moment.

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    • Well, that’s what I kept thinking! Maybe some traffic jams, but from the way it is being reported, you would think we had a full-on hurricane heading our way. Actually, I didn’t even see any traffic jams yet, although there are probably some somewhere. But I’m glad I didn’t get all worked up about the warnings and just enjoyed seeing the eclipse. It was rather impressive!

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  1. You are so lucky to be on the path. We are only getting 66%. I was also shocked during Hurricane Rita (which was right after Katrina) when I went to the store and found the shelves empty and gas gone. I learned my lesson and was prepared for Ike.

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  2. I laughed out loud at this. It’s so true. And what is the deal with everyone running for bread and milk. Personally, I want to make sure I don’t run out of booze.

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    • I just got home from seeing it at my mom’s house! No problems with traffic at all, and we got to see the whole thing. It was actually rather impressive. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but I’m glad I took the time to watch.

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    • We have relatives in Iowa, so I did see that forecast. Glad you got a quick peek! We were lucky enough to see the whole thing, and it was better than I thought it would be. It really was worth taking the time to experience it.
      Although I was right about it not being a disaster. The hotel rooms were all booked, but there were no traffic jams, food or gas shortages, etc. Just a city full of people all staring at the sky, enjoying a beautiful natural phenomenon.

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    • Yeah, honestly, it wasn’t so special until it was total. Then it got dark in the middle of the day, all the crickets started chirping, and you could look directly at it without hurting your eyes. We could just see a huge shadow with a tiny edge peeking around the moon. It was almost surreal. Plus, when the sun just started to show again, everything was immediately lit up. It made me realize the full power of the sun. I honestly didn’t think it would be a big deal, but I’m glad I experienced it. Hope you do too in 2024!

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  3. Dear Ann, I hope the crowds in your neighborhood were not noisy and behaved themselves. We did not have a total eclipse in our area. But enough people were out to watch the partial eclipse. I was on my way to the nearby hospital for an ultrasound. When I came out of the building, it was all over. It is amazing about the things people get excited about, even those things they cannot see, such as the moon being closest to the earth or the alignment of certain planets. It seems to me that the media are partially to be blamed for the emphasis on the wrong aspects in our world. Sorry for being late for my comment1

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  4. We’re about 50 north of the totality, and got the same gloom and doom forecasts for traffic, services, etc. So, we stayed home and enjoyed our 99% coverage, which was less dark than I expected, but still kind of an odd blue light. There were some pretty good traffic jams after the event, but not the multi-day armageddons that some were advertising.

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    • That’s the way it was here, too. The only traffic jams were people leaving the big public parties that were planned for the event, which was the same as the traffic jams we get when we have any major event in town. We got a total eclipse (just the northern edge of the area that saw it) and I was surprised by the darkness that came when the eclipse was total. Even the crickets started in, and the temperature dropped a bit.

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  5. Unfortunately, the eclipse wasn’t much where I am in Florida. I don’t think we were supposed to get full coverage, but we also had about 60% cloud coverage, so it was kind of a dud, here. When I was very young, there was a full solar eclipse in 1970. My family drove to Lake City, S.C. to a big park where it seemed most of our town also drove! I remember looking through special paper at the sun/eclipse. I remember when it got “dark” which was like very late dusk around 3 p.m. that afternoon. And, I’m sure I drove my parents nuts asking when it was going to get dark numerous times. It is a very fond memory of packed coolers full of food, and running around with childhood friends while a scientific phenomenon was taking place.

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    • So sorry! I guess the traffic jams they predicted for St. Louis became reality in Wyoming. My husband had to fly out of town on the Tuesday after the eclipse and he said the whole airport was a zoo.

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  6. Common sense should always win out and being with the dogs on a day like that is not a bad thing at all. And a full tank of gas to boot. You were so money if something crazy happened..:)

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  7. You will have to do a follow- up and let us know how it went. We are headed to your area after Labor Day- about an hour south where my husband’s family lives. I told him we should have gone during the eclispe but he thought I was crazy!

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    • The highway leading south of St. Louis was a little crowded, but you wouldn’t have had any problems getting there. I don’t know that I would make a trip specifically to see the eclipse, but if you have family in the area that would have been a great time to go see them! It was actually a fun thing to experience.

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