|Wed, 16 Aug: Moving into the Path of Totality...
Today was a busy, busy day for a couple of retirees. We were up early, mostly thanks to a road crew who saw fit to grind a road surface at 0500! Thanks guys...
Well, since we were up we started on the myriad tasks required to get our coach ready for the road. Since we've been "vegging" for a week at the Rapid City Elks Lodge we had a lot to do, so we spent extra time with our checklists to ensure that we didn't miss anything.
Sandi rolled Carpe Diem's wheels at 0820 and drove the short distance to Sam's Club where we topped up the diesel tank. From there a few miles to America's Mailbox Campground where we dumped our holding tanks. While there we connected Carpe Dinkum (Bob had been driving "Dinky" separately in case we needed to maneuver the coach in tight quarters). We also picked up our mail.
All that stuff behind us we rolled wheels for "real" at 0950 and headed south on SD 79. Fifty miles south of Rapid City we turned west on US 18. Skirting Hot Springs on US 18 Truck we continued into Wyoming and the rest stop at US 18 & US 85. Following a quick lunch Bob took the helm and continued west on US 18 to just shy of I 25, where we turned south on WY 319. Another twenty miles to the town of Glendo (pop 205) and Glendo State Park. Today's distance was 217 miles with an overall fuel economy of 7⅞ mpg.
We will be staying and volunteering at Glendo State Park for the Total Solar Eclipse. Glendo (and the State Park) is directly in the center of the Path of Totality and we will be treated to 2½ minutes of totality. We have a reserved complimentary campsite thru next Tuesday. Needless to say, we're really excited about viewing this once-in-our-lifetime event and have our fingers crossed for good weather.
Sat, 19 Aug: The excitement (and population) builds...
In 49 hours we'll be experiencing a total eclipse of the sun! This will be our first total eclipse, and we are very, very excited at the prospect of witnessing this amazing event. Just two days out the skies are sunny with few clouds, and the forecast for tomorrow and Monday are for more of the same.
Since our arrival Wednesday we've been busy little volunteers. Our site in the State Park is excellent—large, level, and with a good view of the sky. Our solar panels are getting full sun most of the day and we are even receiving full Dish coverage. Sweet...
Thursday morning we had a 0730 meeting to get orientation. Following the talk we spent the next five hours driving from one end of the park to the other. This place is HUGE! Our tour guide was non other than the park superintendent himself. He is justifiably proud of the park and we really got to know where, what, how, and why. Most important were the temporary facilities set up for public viewing of the eclipse.
Yesterday, Friday, we spent the morning and early afternoon driving around with two Wyoming State Park employees conducting surveys and doing "potty inspections". This is a big part of our duties and consists of stopping at every pit toilet (there are 40 of them in the park) and portable toilet (they've brought in a hundred or so) to ensure that they are reasonably clean and have ample supplies. It isn't bad at all and every one we've visited has been in excellent shape. We also got to flip the "full campground" signs. Such power!!!
Today we're on afternoon duty (we're only expected to work half a day) and will probably duplicate yesterday's activities. Tomorrow and "E-day" we'll probably continue keeping busy. Nobody seems to know how many folks will be here on Monday. The gates for public viewing will open at 0430. We are roughly four hours from Denver and an hour-and-a-half from Cheyenne. We're the closest destination that offers totality, so there is an expectation we'll be "hammered". I 25 is only two lanes and some forecasts call for total gridlock. Hence the early opening.
Tue, 22 Aug: WOW, WOW, WOW!!!
There is no other way to describe witnessing a total solar eclipse. It was everything we anticipated and then some—by several orders of magnitude!
As the days progressed leading up to "E"-day/21 August, the park continued to fill. By Sunday our now-daily routine of patrolling the park and checking restroom supplies became more important. Porta-pottys that had never been used were now using supplies at a rapid rate. Our case of TP was being used and we kept busy.
Yesterday, "E"-Day, we reported for duty at 0530, a full hour before dawn. Our assignment was to assist with parking day visitors in the temporary parking areas and directing the people to the viewing area across the road. When we arrived the lot already had dozens upon dozens of cars that had arrived between midnite and 0400 when the road was temporarily closed pending our arrival and the establishment of the all-important fee booth. Our first order of business was sorting all that out.
Once the fee booth was set up ($4/day for residents, $6/day for non-residents) the cars started arriving. Many of the folks were from the Denver area and had spent all nite driving up. The normally three hour drive took them twice plus that long.
We kept busy until around nine when all the volunteers were released to view the eclipse. By that time we had parked hundreds of cars, and we were but one of several parking teams.
We returned to our coach, grabbed a quick breakfast, and got ready for the Main Event. We set up the camera with the solar filter on a tripod and set it to take an image every three minutes. The other cameras were used for non-solar shots.
At 1024 (all times MDT) sharp we noticed the first "nibble" out of the sun at roughly the 2 o'clock position. As time went on the "nibble" became progressively larger until the sun looked like a crescent moon. The light turned progressively yellow-ish and intensity lessened.
Then, at 11:46 the sun was completely covered and twilite turned into deep twilite to the point that it was impossible to see small objects without a flashlite. At this point we could look at the sun without solar filters and beheld one of the most amazing sights—the sun's corona. It was incredibly beautiful!
This awesome state lasted a mere 2' 25" at which time we saw the "diamond ring" effect as the sun emerged from behind the moon. Time to resume wearing solar protection and the process reversed. Twilite became daylite and the sun's "nibble" became progressively smaller and smaller, this time at the 7 o'clock position. By 1312 the moon was completely clear of the sun and it was all over—except for the feeling and knowledge that we have been privileged to witness a truly incredible spectacle.
Then the real fun began. It is estimated that approximately 55,000 folks were in Glendo for the eclipse, the vast majority in the State Park. There are only two roads in and out of Glendo, I 25 and US 85. Both became parking lots for hours upon hours. Our campground is roughly six miles from the Interstate, and the traffic was backed up for miles beyond us till almost dinner time.
We were exhausted after dinner and were both showered and in bed by 2030. We slept in late (0700) and have spent most of today working on our photos. We've posted one composite of images from the start, to totality, and then to the end. It is posted with the images so enjoy.
Tomorrow we'll head out. Still not too sure exactly where, but suspect the Casper area.
IMPORTANT! We have completed a short (1'07") video clip that was shot with our dash camera during the eclipse. It shows the moments up to totality, totality, and the moments following totality. What is striking is the rapidity with which day turns to nite and vicr versa. To view the video Click Here!