Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reserving the Shadow - Confession from a Non-Planner

Spontaneous, adventurous, daring, boondocking, seat-of-the-pants-flying, unscheduled, free - we want to be all of these in our travels. Even in our current road trips there is an expectation that routes will change. While it is fun for us to revisit places together, we always love to point out "This is a road I have never traveled before!"

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.


  1. Great post! I didn't know a thing about the shadow. Now you make me want to find a place to experience it. 2017 is a long time in advance to be planned but I guess if my world falls apart before then I can always cancel. Someone will be happy to take my place. Did the campground think you were nuts to book something more than 3 years in advance? The first sentence of this post is just exactly what I dreamed about when I first went on the road. And then reality set in that I might not have a spot on Friday or Saturday night in the south in the winter and the north in the summer if I didn't have reservations. The local week-enders would have them all snatched up. Thus solar and boondocking although I hear that brings out the ATVers. SIGH........ Hope you are going to teach me about how to bring more unscheduled, spontaneous and free into my world.

    1. As I read you with great envy I can't imagine teaching you anything about the life :-). You just need to come West this year, hook Winona up with a solar hat, and do some meandering. The campground didn't know a thing about the Shadow or their being in the path but they do now! I also figured that we can cancel if anything changes as the location will be prime with a waiting list.

  2. A totally new concept for me! Sounds very interesting and has me thinking, as well, that we should book something in the shadow!! Thanks for the lesson:)

  3. Wakeside RV Park, Rexburg, ID - bet there's room for all of us!

  4. Who knows, maybe the RV park will be full with Blogger friends.

  5. Found your blog from your comments on a blog we both follow. We jumped into RV'ing into '12 with no experience, 2 years later we are fulltimers (class of '13) spending the summers working in VT and the winters were the temps are warm. This past winter while VT was experiencing one of their hardest winters in recent memory we were in TX not believing we had pulled it off. I'm in the process of reading your older posts, I've done this with all of the blogs I follow, learned a lot and have made great friends, some whom I've had the pleasure of meeting. Now you've got me thinking about where we might be in 2017, spent many an star gazing when I was younger.

    1. Welcome and thanks for following along! We haven't been east of Colorado so VT sounds so amazing (maybe not in the winter :-)))) Hope to meet you down the road next year.