Search Lobsterland

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Great American Eclipse Meets the Disappointment Artist

So I bought the sales pitch about how incredible the totality is compared to 99%. Where I work was in the 99% zone, but I took the day off and went north to where the totality would last two minutes and forty seconds. My original plan was the St. Joseph Airport (which sold out, I would have been punting when I got there). I packed a picnic, thought of everything, a bottle of wine (Old Moon zinfandel, seemed appropriate), Eclipse chewing gum, eclipse glasses (bought from one of NASA's recommended suppliers), seltzer, diet cola, food, camera, lenses, neutral density filters, tripod and so on.

I had the car loaded the night before, including the picnic in a cooler on ice so as to reach escape velocity quickly after rising. I had heard of the epic traffic I would encounter and thought I'd leave the house around 7:00 a.m. Then right as I was getting ready for bed I noticed my step-sister's husband (what is that, my step-bro-in-law?) had posted to Facebook about hosting a bunch of people since his house was in the path of totality. I knew he'd changed jobs, and I should know that in his line of work that always means relocating, but I hadn't connected those dots yet I guess. I'm no dummy, given the chance to hang with family, with the comforts of a house and stuff, compared to staking out a spot on an airport tarmac with my car and waiting in line for the kybo, that's a no-brainer. And since the airport sold out, I'd have been paying some stranger $20 to sit in their driveway (according to the signs I passed, that was the going rate).

The forecast when I left the house was for blue skies in Hiawatha. I'd been warned (in grim terms by practically the whole world) that I would meet traffic that spoke in quarter inches. But while there were plenty of cars on the road, everything was flowing at the speed limit going up. Coming back would be a different story, of course, just like a sporting event not everybody tailgates so not everybody shows up at the same time: but everyone leaves together.

I even bought a venus fly trap, an Audrey II. I had to explain this to more people than I'd have expected, the Little Shop of Horrors musical/movie starting out with a 'total eclipse of the sun' and then a carnivorous plant shows up. But while I'm not big on house plants (my wife keeps a bunch but I've never seen the appeal), I have loved venus fly traps since I was a kid and it turns out they're only ten bucks at a local nursery.

It was actually overcast and scattered rain when I got to Hiawatha, but it looked like, on the radar, that around the time of totality we'd be in good shape. And it's not like you can just jet from Hiawatha to Booneville in a few minutes.

When the eclipse started we had relatively clear skies, sometimes clouds would obscure it, but we got good mileage out of our eclipse glasses. Then, at 1:04:58, when totality started, we got a big fat fucker of a gray cloud that totally shut out the diamond ring. It got dark, not as dark as I'd expected, but I think that was the clouds reflecting light, and I definitely missed the totality. If I'd stayed in KC, downtown got 30 seconds or so of crystal clear totality, and I wouldn't have had to sit in stop and go traffic on I-29 coming home.

I guess I'll get that right on the retake. They do a retake, right? I'm kidding of course, but there is one coming up in seven years that goes across the American Southwest to Northeast. So I might have to arrange to be in Cleveland or something April 2024.

Maybe by the time that next one comes around I'll have picked up a solar filter for my Nikon. They were sold out at the only camera shop left n town, plus they were like a hundred bucks so I didn't have one for this. I thought maybe I"d try to frame a shot that included the sun in a landscape and shoot that, but the sun is so bright I worried about the sensor on the camera and stuff, so I decided to just shoot my step-sister's house. The eclipse glasses were big enough to cover the iPhone's lens so I took a few shots at the partial phase with my phone.

No comments: