Solar Eclipse in the Land of Spuds

The “diamong ring” moment in the eclipse
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I had heard talk about the amazing total solar eclipse for over a year, pretty much since I moved to Utah and started going to some of the Utah Valley Astronomy Club meetings. It was there that I learned it was best to be in the “viewing path” (see graphic below) and that the path was just a few hours north in Idaho.

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The RV

In the early part of the summer, I kind of halfheartedly said that I was going to travel to the eclipse. I had no idea about it and had heard horror stories of traffic and crowds. It was until my then girlfriend, now wife, Ann’s step-dad offered for us to take his RV (pics below) to Idaho for the eclipse. I had never taken a road trip in an RV but had been in them many times. I love them and most definitely would love to have one of my own!

Of course we had to stop at the state line for some goofy pix and to let the dogs stretch their legs and empty their bladders.

We were super excited and the idea of a group road trip was thrilling. Ann’s brother David was going to join us. He is pretty savvy on astronomy and has some of his own gear.

On the night before the eclipse, he set up his mirror telescope and we were able to see the rings on Saturn. It was amazing! It is the first time I had ever seen them through a telescope.

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Dave setting up his equipment (at another site)

One of things that makes traveling in an RV so much fun, is that you get to be comfortable and actually do things. We played games while traveling and also has space to zone out when wanted.

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We enjoyed the comforts of the RV

We ended up renting a space in a farmer’s field out in the middle of nowhere. We were will northeast of Idaho Falls. There were a good number of other RV campers there, but it was not overcrowded and chaotic as predicted.

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Our campsite in the farmer’s field

Being in the field had some advantages. First, there were a lot of cows. I happen to love cows and I spent some time talking politics with them and taking a few pix.

Before setting up my tent in the field, the farmer came around with strawberry shortcake and I gladly accepted. It wasn’t fancy but it was a nice and unexpected treat. Everyone slept in the RV except for me. I brought my tent and stayed up into the night taking night sky pix. In the morning, one of my favorite things happened – the sunrise poking into my tent!

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Yum – homemade strawberry shortcake.
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The night sky over the farm field
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My tent, the RV and the night sky.
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Morning sun in my tent – this is one of my favorite things!

The experience of the eclipse was a singular event. It was so eerie during the actual eclipse. I took video, photos as fast and furiously as I can during the very brief moment.

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I took this through Dave’s telescope
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Someone photographed me photographing the eclipse

The 3 photos below are cell phone photos where I put the cell camera up to Dave’s telescope.

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We had to take a group selfie during the eclipse

The video below was shot on my MUVI camera. I just set it on the ground nearby knowing that the images would not be great, however, if you listen to the audio you can hear everyone’s reaction during the eclipse. I think it is rather neat.

Below are pix of people during the actual eclipse. I especially love the pix of the two families together. As you can see by their attire, they were totally prepared for any eventuality.

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GRACE

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One of the funnest and funniest parts of the trip was what happened with Grace after the eclipse. After the eclipse Jake and Ann were out picking up rocks in the field. Jake wanted to bring a commemorative rock back home. They called it a moon rock.

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Ann, Jake and Grace picking up moon rocks.

Grace came up to them and asked them what they were doing. She let them know that there were a lot of rocks in the field. Ann told her that was because they fell from the sky during the eclipse and that they were moon rocks. Grace’s reaction was one of astonishment.

She bought the story hook, line and sinker!

She then very excitedly went around picking up her own rocks.

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Grace proudly shows off her moon rock.

Idaho Falls

On the way back from the eclipse viewing, we made a detour into Idaho Falls. It was a very nice small town with waterfalls in the center of town. Below are a fix pix.

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