Saturday, 26 August 2017

Our Eclipse Trip 2017

Usually my blog posts on Boyschooling are about lessons learned from nature or other homeschooling insights, but this one is just a plain ol’ show-and-tell of our trip to see the total eclipse on the 21st of August.

The best my iphone could do!

If you’re anywhere between Texas and Maine in 2024, please block out a chance to get to a place of totality for yourself. Though we had to drive a total of 32 hours in three days to see it, we all feel it was wholly worth the trouble.

The main reason is this: you cannot fathom what a total eclipse looks like until you see it - my pictures can’t do it justice, and certainly, when I tried to take photos of it before the sun was completely covered, there was very little indication that the sun was almost fully covered.

The sun just basically looked like the same sun!

You can't tell the moon has almost
covered the sun in this photo.

Well, just indulge me a bit as I give you more of a photo montage of our journey and exploration: I think you’ll like it, especially if you are a nature-study-kind of person.

First of all, we had to drive from Round Rock, Texas, to Steelville, Missouri - that’s 731 miles each way via the shortest route. We went in two cars because there were eight of us: my hubby and 3 of my kids (one stayed behind because she hates road trips, and she wanted to help grandma who had just had surgery), and my friend from England with her two children.

One of the four states we visited

We took frequent stops for gas and snacks, bathroom breaks, and just because drivers should stop to refresh every two hours. With daylight fading, my friend and my hubby - both mathematicians - got into a big philosophical debate about the origins of the universe. I swear this delayed us by half an hour!

No ... but yes ... but no ... but ...

Finally, we arrived at our cabin in the woods near the Meramec River. This place was absolutely heavenly. Four bedrooms that slept 9, two covered porches with tons of bird feeders, frequented by all kinds of birds from woodpeckers to goldfinches to hummingbirds, a large dining room, utility room, three bathrooms, and two living rooms.

Definitely the queen at her palace!

Our big worry on the eclipse day was cloud cover. Weather reports were worrying, but long story short, we had the most glorious weather. In fact, for about the first hour as the moon crept across the sky, it was hot, hot, hot! We couldn’t sit in the shade because — well, it’s obvious if you think about it — you can’t see the sun if you’re shaded!

Making use of the eclipse glasses

Partway through, the temperature noticeably dropped. Everything got a weird gloaming glow about it: like sunset but with short, high-angled shadows. When the moon finally blocked the sun altogether, the cicadas stopped whirring but the crickets started chirping and the tree frogs started their serenade. That last all of about 2 minutes, but it was like time stood still.

Teens looks at the big screen in the sky

Then as the moon started receding, the sunshine came back on like flipping a switch, and the temperatures started to climb again, most of us lost interest in watching the second half.

Before long, we were hiking to the river and introducing our British friends to “tubing” - that is, sitting in an innertube and floating down the river. I didn’t want to reveal to them that I was stalking upstream in search for the tell-tale s-shaped ripples that one sees as a snake meanders down the current.

I thought that information was best kept to myself.

There's a flaw in his technique

We also skipped a lot of rocks. I mention this because I was the winner with 17 skips. My husband couldn’t even do one. That’s growing up in the UK for you (Just joking)

Timmy came second. SECOND!
Just want to make sure you get that.

Later, we went into Steelville to a little ma-and-pa country diner, the kind I used to go to as a kid: chicken-friend steak, catfish, bbq ribs, porkchops. 

Trying to eat ribs in a dainty way???

We literally closed the place down, but they loved all our accents so agreed to a group photo in celebration of my friend’s birthday.

Great end to a birthday of a lifetime!

We would have taken to the road nice and early the next morning, but a band of heavy rain was pushing through the area we’d be driving through for about 2 hours, so we lingered, watched the birds, drank coffee. My hubby and friend argued more about the universe.

What's the middle bit?

Finally, the rain moved on, so more or less retracing our path from Sunday, we arrived home early Wednesday morning about 1:30 am.

Still a loooong way to go

My friend wants me to add something here. When we left on Sunday, the day was cloudy. When we returned on Tuesday, the day was cloudy. All week since, it has been cloudy with showers, or as it is while I’m writing this, bucketing with the deluge from Hurricane Harvey.

Only Monday during the eclipse was a bright and beautiful day, and say it’s a coincidence all you want, but my friend had traveled over 5000 miles to see it for her birthday, and God made sure she got the present she was hoping for. What a good God!

Happy Birthday, Friend!
(PS Near totality: see how gloomy it is?)

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