We are often asked "Where are you going first?" and the answer is usually "We don't know" or "It depends on the weather at the time". Today the answer is "Out the driveway" because that's all the farther we want to plan.
So why do we have reservations for a week in August 2017? In Idaho? At an RV park?
Because we want to be in the Shadow.
One of the many interests we share (there are also a healthy number we don't) is a fascination with weather and astronomy. Growing up in the desert we were exposed to the beauty and harshness of weather, and a night sky full of stars that touched the mountain ranges all around us. Back then, and in the years since, there were lunar and solar eclipses that we viewed like most of the world's population - lunars with the naked eye and solars through some modified viewer, or on television. Very cool to see.
But we've never been in the Shadow.
No one in the United States has been in the Shadow since 1988. I didn't even know it was here then. Fortunately I do know when it will be here next. The path of the Shadow is mapped with amazing accuracy decades in advance of it's swipe across our planet. In 2017 the United States will play host to the Shadow starting in Newport, Oregon and exiting from Cape Romain, South Carolina - 1 hour, 33 minutes and 16.8 seconds after its arrival. It will not touch land again, melting into the ocean just before the coast of Africa.
|Shadow's Path - August 21, 2017|
People will come from all over the world to stand in the Shadow.
Although I didn't know it was here the last time, thousands of eclipse-chasers (not really a chase if you get there first, but that's what they call themselves) came here to experience it, and they will again. One unique phenomenom (like the whole deal isn't phenomenal enough by itself) of this event is that the sun will rise while eclipsed. What? Wow! They say this is something that veteran chasers rarely witness. A truly amazing natural wonder.
Which is why we won't be on the coast when we're in the Shadow.
The most amazing and wonderous natural events can be ruined, or at least lessened in their greatness IMHO, by two things. People and weather. Too much of either will diminish the best experience and I attempt to avoid both. Shadow-cancelling fog is a possibility on the central coast of Oregon any time of year. Hordes of eclipse chasers mixed with the yearly summer-beach-going-vacationers making the location a chaotic nightmare is a strong probability.
There are many places where we can stand for up to two minutes in the Shadow.
At an hour and a half, this joining of Shadow with land is not going to be a quickie. This is a respectable, long-term relationship we're talking about. It will cover a lot of ground. While it will all be exciting, we would like to avoid the hot and sweaty phase. So south and east in August is out for us. The southern tip of the Grand Tetons will undoutedly be spectacular (and in hindsight I may regret we didn't go there), but I opted for a more off-the-beaten-path location in Rexburg, Idaho, where we will be in full shadow for 2 minutes and 17 seconds.
Not since re-reading Peter Pan have I so anticipated the delight of a Shadow.
This is something worth making plans for, getting reservations, planning advance routes, buying a special outfit (okay, maybe not), putting on the calendar! Where are we going before then? Yep, out the driveway.