The last week and a half has been a total whirlwind. We saw the Great American Eclipse; came home; got married; and now are packing up for our bike tour.
Let’s start with the eclipse. After our last goodbyes at work, Jim and I flew to Denver, Colorado. From there, we drove to Casper, Wyoming, to meet up with my family for our official eclipse tour.
Why Casper? Well, my mother’s parents actually grew up there, and my mom made regular visits when she was little. My parents saw an ad for Twilight Tours in Sky & Telescope magazine, and thought it would be the perfect combination of a little family history along with a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event.
On eclipse day, we left Casper at 4 AM to reach the viewing site at dawn. The viewing site was grass airstrip outside Glendo, WY (pop: 205).
The eclipse itself happened like this: first it got a little dimmer, then much dimmer. It started to get cold. The wind stopped. Shadows became crisp. Everything felt wrong, and a little surreal. The sun slimmed into a tiny crescent and then…twilight!
The sun was a bright ring and corona around a perfectly black moon. The sky was twilight blue, with a panoramic sunset around all 360 degrees of view. We laughed and applauded and cheered for it. And then, just as quickly, it was over; only an hour later it was back to a sunny day and 95 degree dry heat.
On Tuesday, the whole family got in an SUV to a trip out to the family homestead. My great-grandfather participated in the US homesteading program back in the ’20s. In return for living on the land for a year or two, he was granted a square mile of it.
To get to the homestead, you start out from Casper. The stop lights disappear, then the stop signs. The asphalt starts to get rough, then turns to gravel. You stop seeing houses or farms or cows. Finally, the gravel turns into double-track dirt, and you’re there.
I loved the vastness of the landscape. I’m an east-coast woman, and I knew sort of what to expect, but it’s not quite the same as seeing those big empty spaces for yourself. But despite how arid it was, there was a lot of life – antelopes; bugs; weird little lizards. And, of course, cows.
And with that pilgrimage complete, Jim and I drove back to Denver and jumped on our red-eye back to New York. We had a two hour catnap in Brooklyn, and then it was time to finish the wedding!