Monday, August 21, 2017

Chasing the 2017 Eclipse

Monday, August 14th, 11pm.
T minus 6 days, 12 hours before the eclipse

Theresa - "We should go see the eclipse!"
Joe - "Sounds like fun!"

What followed next was a mad scramble to get flights booked, a rental car reserved, lodging figured out, plus whatever else we'd need for the trip. But whenever you give T a goal, you know she'll be amazing at figuring out how to make it all work.

First stop was the NASA Interactive Eclipse Tracker. What an awesome resource for helping us pick the best spot for viewing. So the path of totality (where the sun is completely covered by the moon) is going from east to west inside those two blue lines. The closer you get to the red line, the longer the total eclipse will last. The longest duration this time is 2 minutes and 40.2 seconds. Let's see how we are in Los Angeles!

Well I guess that's not really a surprise. Los Angeles is too far south to see a total eclipse. Best case here is 61% coverage. Hmm. We need to do better than that. Following the line of totality and looking for major cities, T came across Kansas City. We have friends there! Our very good friends Jonathan and Lacey moved there a couple years ago.

T minus 6 days. Tuesday morning - Phone calls go out to Jonathan and Lacey asking if they wouldn't mind some company this weekend. They said sure! Come on out! Now T really had to get to work.

Flights into Kansas City were ridiculously expensive on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We both shuffled some things on our end to fly out on Thursday night. Flights back home were completely sold out on our favorite airlines (Southwest) on Monday and Tuesday. T happened to find seats for 4 of us on a 6am flight back home. T grabbed a rental car reservation and just like that, we were booked!

T and I spent part of Tuesday trying to find solar glasses. Can't just stare at the sun you know. Lots of places online were sold out. Amazon had an issue with counterfeit glasses. Any places online that did have them in stock required expensive overnight shipping, just to make sure they got to you in time. T even resorted to calling a local welding shop, looking for filter glass for their masks.

In the end, I called a few different 7-11s in the area and finally found one that had them in stock! Best of all, they were just $1 each! We bought 20! Some to hand out to friends in Los Angeles, some to give Jonathan and Lacey and any other friends we ran across in Kansas City. With all that, I think we're set!

After an uneventful flight, and a few fun days hanging out with everyone in Kansas City, we jump ahead to T minus 5 hours before the eclipse.

Well if there's one thing you can't control, it's the weather.

Rain was coming down in sheets, accompanied by lightning and thunder. This won't do at all.

Already looking ahead the night before, we had planned to go to Excelsior Springs, a location very close to the center line. There they were having a SolarFest with food vendors, and other fun celebrations for the eclipse. Just a 45 minute drive away.

The obligatory driving in the car photos. Our navigator.


Entertainment and jokes.

Live music.

Made it to Excelsior Springs! But... it doesn't look any better. Doppler map shows heavy rains and clouds lasting until the eclipse. We've got to get away from here!

Columbia is looking clear. ONLY a 2 hour drive away. A quick stop for lunch, some new tunes on the radio and off we went. Along with a whole bunch of other people who had the same idea.

Making our way to Columbia, T humored me and put on the solar glasses. There is it! The moon is starting to cover the sun!

With all the traveling we do, both Ian and Alli are fantastic travelers. I couldn't blame Alli at all when 1:45 into the second leg of our 2 hour journey she decided that she had had enough. Turns out she had flipped her water cup upside down and was a little cold and wet. We took the next exit and looked for a place to set up. As luck would have it, just off the freeway was a hillside with lots of other people set up too. Peninsula Baptist Church was established all the way back in 1873 and we joined all the other groups set up here.

A quick check of the NASA map shows that we can't get too much better. The best totality anyone is going to get is 2m40.2s. Here we're only a few seconds shy at 2m34.7s. Way to speak up Alli!

We got everyone unloaded with 15-20 minutes before the total eclipse.

Testing out his solar glasses.

Glad she's keeping hers on too.

Ian and Alli loved having their freedom and ran up and down this rock path. Other people took a liking to them and offered them snacks, like cheese, crackers, salami, and pickles. They were happy to accept.

I told Ian, hey buddy, just 10 minutes to go. The next thing I know he's yelling at the top of his lungs, "Everyone there's just 10 minutes before the eclipse!" That brought quite a few chuckles.

Almost there...
The bright sky started turning dark.

There were quite a few gasps from all around when the sun went into eclipse. So awesome to see it happen.

Now that it's in totality, you can see it without the solar glasses. What had formerly been a quiet field, came to life with the sounds of crickets and other chirping insects, who suddenly thought it was night.

You can just make out some of the solar flares on my photos. I've seen much better photos from others, but this was what I was able to come up with in the brief time I wanted to spend taking photos.

Because you can't be so caught up in the moment that you don't take the time to experience it with the people you're with. Taking a quick photo with Ian.

And giving the kids a big hug.

2 minutes and 34 seconds passed by way too quickly. This next sequence of photos is over the course of 5 seconds. You can just see the edge starting to peek out.

It's much further now.

And it's gone. Wow. Really incredible.

We'd spend the next half hour or so chatting with our neighbors. Finding out where they came from to watch the eclipse, recounting their weather related stories, and just chatting in general. The eclipse put everyone in a really good mood.

Mr. John showed Ian and Alli how his pin-hole projector worked.

There's the tiny little eclipse on the bottom of the box.

Alli made herself right at home in one of their loungers. And they kept giving her pickles until we told Alli that she had had enough. I think she topped out at 5.

One more view of the church before we take off.

Happy girl. I think she had fun.

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