Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Chasing the 2024 Solar Eclipse in Maine - Pt 2

Continuing our journey to see the 2024 Solar Eclipse! 

We're in Maine! The End Is Here! Literally!

Houlton Maine is the last location in the USA that the eclipse covers. The very stop on the freeway is the border crossing with Canada! 

Why are Theresa and Alli dancing down the hallway? 

Because look outside! Not a cloud in the sky! It's blue and sunny! All that hard work and effort to change our flights, hotel, rental car, etc from Texas to here in the past week looks like it is going to pay off! 

Grabbing a quick breakfast from the buffet at the the hotel. Just stuff we can take in the car. We've got a little driving to do. 

At 8am everyone was in the car and ready to drive North-East. This was my biggest worry. What if there's car trouble? What if there is crazy traffic? We've planned for so many different contingencies, but some things we have little control over.  

Traffic looks good so far! With 2 hours to Houlton, we should arrive around 10am. Even if it gets backed up on the freeway, there's still plenty of time before the 3:30pm eclipse. 

We're getting close! Theresa sent out a text to everyone in the party as soon as we entered the path of Totality! Even if we break down on the side of the road, we'll still be able to see it! 
The police have been out in force today, making sure no one is speeding. There's multiple road signs referencing the eclipse, like "Turn your lights on during the eclipse", "Have patience, expect heavy traffic", and "No parking on the side of the freeway for the eclipse". 
I'm not liking those clouds in the sky though. 

There's not much cell service in these more remote parts of the state. Did you know Maine is 90% forests? T trying to get a signal. 

The page would half-load, then stop. Ah, at least we can see the cloud prediction hasn't changed since this morning. 

Here we are, coming up on Houlton right around 10am. The exit is not crowded. 

Nor is the exit ramp! Perfect! 

Thank you Houlton! We're happy to be here! 

We had a few choices of where to view the eclipse from. Downtown, the Eclipse Park, or something else. 
Knowing we'll be here for the next 7 hours we opted for something that would have facilities that would be easy to utilize. The Walmart parking lot! 

And it's plenty busy! There's RVs parked here already. Lots of cars and trucks. Telescopes everywhere. 

We found a patch of gravel next to some friendly looking people and got our chairs, blankets, and snacks all set up. 

One of the most fun parts is chatting with everyone to see where they're from and hear their experiences. These folks grabbed their granddaughter and drove 2 days from Michigan to be here! 

Is Walmart okay with everyone being in the parking lot? I think so. They were coming around asking everyone how they're doing. They have a shopping cart full of inflatable aliens and they're handing out bags of popcorn. 

They're also collecting donations for the Children's Miracle Network. 
Alli and Ian got an alien and have named him "David Charleston Pokemon". He's been a big hit! 

While we're a little on the outskirts off the freeway, downtown Houlton has a big celebration going on. It's a 1.25 mile walk to get there, but it's better than standing around. 

The city even provided a shuttle service from Walmart and multiple other large parking lots around the town to shuffle people to and from all the events downtown. 

But we're happy to walk. 

Coming up on Riverfront Park, the official Eclipse Star Park. 

This is where we met the National Park Service Rangers a couple days ago. It's much warmer today! All the snow is gone. 

Using the Gateway Crossing bridge, we can head to downtown. 

The Star Park is filling up, including a couple news vans! And there's still 3.5 hours to go! 

A large bust of George Washington is getting into the eclipse spirit. And there's a giant pair of solar glasses. 

Say Eclipse! 

Ooh, a bakery! 

Including some Eclipse Moon Pies! 

A smoked BBQ truck was making the whole area smell amazing. Toby got a pulled pork sandwich that he said was excellent. 

There's a NASA table with props! They made sure everyone has a pair of proper eclipse glasses. 

There's food trucks everywhere! It's getting crowded here though! 

Yeah, pretty crowded. 

Some people decided to come in costume, including Master Chief from Halo. 

And a wandering group of crazy aliens. 

The end is here! 

Rocking to the DJ.

There's a webcam looking down on main street. Can you find us? 

It's starting to get closer! And look at those blue skies!

The 1.25 mile walk back to all our stuff. 

Oh, there's a McDonalds on the way? Their app is great (most of the time) for some good deals! Like $1.29 large fries! And even though they're really busy, this McDonalds did a good thing for us. We placed our order when we were downtown and usually there will be a screen that asks when you've arrived. Instead it went through immediately, even though we have 15 minutes of walking ahead of us. When we arrived, they said the order had been sitting there for a while. Instead of giving us old fries, they made new ones for us. Thank you! 

Back at the Walmart parking lot, all our stuff is still here! Our neighbors said that a windy gust blew down a few chairs while we were gone, but otherwise things were all good! 

We snacked on cheese, salami, and crackers, plus other things we bought at Walmart while we awaited first contact! It won't be long now! 

1 comment:

  1. Blue skies and a no-traffic drive to Houlton...couldn't have asked for a better start to the day! What a festive time leading up to the trucks, music w/ DJs, and even costumed characters!...the temporary shuttle stops were an added plus for people who needed them. Walmart was getting into the spirit with the inflatable aliens and popcorn bags...very customer friendly to do that, along with opening their big parking lot for all the eclipse tourists. So very heartening to see friendly, like-minded people gathered in one spot and watching out for each other. Getting closer to that moment...anticipation is starting to build! EOM