Our big summer blockbuster this year happened in the sky overhead. (I desperately want to use the phrase) all the stars aligned and we were able to witness totality about an hour west of the city on a nearly cloudless August afternoon. We sent an invitation out to all the family offering up a place to stay and food to eat and, fingers crossed, a great spot for viewing. The cousins were all back in school, but the grandparents were up for the adventure.
M and I debated our options for viewing for a few weeks – he had a few construction projects in the line of totality that might offer a place to park and picnic, or we thought we could just drive in the general direction and find a parking lot somewhere to hang out. But a random mention in a conversation on carpools landed us an invite to our friends’ family winery, and the rest is history. We nervously checked the weather forecast all weekend – the chance for clouds and rain kept increasing – but in the end, our spot was perfect. Hot, but perfect.
We arrived early and staked our claim on a picnic table in the shade, and then we set up our chairs for the view. Watching the moon slowly move its way across the sun was far more exciting than I thought it would be. Those glasses really worked! But the real treat was observing the changes as totality inched closer. The temperatures dropped 10-15 degrees, and the cicadas’ chorus began. From our seats we watched the approach of darkness across the valley in front of us and the 360 degree sunset all around us.
Photographing totality was impossible with my phone, and I didn’t have the correct lens for my nicer camera. But I did think this one shot was cool – you can see the small “sun spot” in the bottom of the shot shows the glowing area where we first started to see Bailey’s Beads. Viewing the corona was really remarkable. Everyone took their glasses off and just stared. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Reading American Eclipse beforehand was really fun. I still recommend it to everyone I talk to. Even if you only read Chapter 16 on Totality, it’s worth it.
And we bought these commemorative stamps from USPS for the occasion – plus I bought enough to use on my holiday cards this year. They used heat-activated ink for the first time ever on a stamp, so when you apply heat with you fingertip to the surface of the stamp the full eclipse reveals the surface of the moon before returning back to darkness. Really cool. I’ve framed a set for the gallery wall the girls and I are working on upstairs. 2017 was a summer to remember, for sure.