I’d studied the weather forecasts for two weeks trying to decide on Oregon, Casper WY or Idaho Falls…and best promises seemed for Idaho.
But hotels were pricing up to a thousand a night in the area.
No way. I priced a Motel 6 in Butte, MT, and yep, about 50 a night. So we went to Butte, ordered pizza; but as related elsewhere, there was something funny about the room—and this motel was packed. Shu in particular was upset. The bedframe was broken and crackled alarmingly when either of us moved. So we tossed the mattress in the floor and were much more comfortable, except Sei found a way under the bedframe. So we’re up at 5 am trying to find Sei, finally get the cats into the car, and Shu burrows under the driver’s side seat, so I have to haul him out, and have to do it with the door shut, lest he bolt off into the dark (he’s black) and get lost in a strange city. THis is where I got bit, and we were so stubborn I didn’t let him go, he didn’t let me go, and we fussed at each other over the extraction of his teeth from my arm and him from the seat bottom.
With that ironed out, we were underway — forest fires had begun to haze the area, and we were a bit worried. But on we went, toward Rexburg, about 20 miles north of Idaho Falls, which would have the longest totality. We looked for a spot to park, and most places were charging 20.00 just to park there, even out in the country, but after getting our tee-shirts (we had to) we went looking for a place to park, and found a mostly ignored dirt road which led to some sort of governmental land, where 2 other cars were parked in a nook in the sagebrush…
They were congenial folk. We set up to wait—sagebrush is very pungent, let me tell you. And we wouldn’t be able to see the leaf-effect of the eclipse in this brush, but we had our spot.
We settled to wait, and had our eclipse glasses—and the smoke had not followed us. The sky was perfectly clear, and our little hill was a great spot.
The eclipse advanced from the northeast corner of the disc, and we could watch it intermittently with the glasses, just checking on it—because it’s still very strong light; and the dark advanced across the solar disc until halfway before we could really see any profound effect in the light.
But after that night began to fall, in the diminishing of the light—sort of like the sunlight on Mars, at the last. And yet there was still warmth, from the faintest, faintest sliver of sun left. It went out, and the diamond ring effect burst out, giving us that momentary flash, then the ring of the corona distinct and white.
Looking around, there was sunset 360 degrees round about, a wind began to blow, in the cooling of the air, and the crickets began to sing. It was only a couple of minutes, but one could be intensely aware that two giant forces were doing a kind of minuet—regardless of us or any force on earth.
Then the diamond ring flash from the opposite side announced that the sun was coming back, and we immediately felt the warmth, just from a tiny sliver.
We broke out Champagne for the occasion, and shared it with the other two families present, celebrated the retreat of the great Dragon that devours the Sun, and went our ways.
The cats slept through it all.
We entered what was surely a nationwide traffic jam, moving at a steady 11 mph all the way to Idaho Falls—we stopped for lunch, in the theory it might break up—ha!
It kept on. There was no avoiding it. We proceeded for the next hundred miles at 11 mph, all the way to the south, near the Utah border, with no greater speed. There was at least one fenderbender—hotels we called (getting the numbers from the GPS) were still jacking prices, and the cheapest was 200 a night. We kept driving. So did most everybody but the RVs, which were setting up in rest areas, and on we drove into the dark.
We were getting entirely punchy and on the verge of pulling off to sleep in the car, when I found a hotel in Malad, ID, which had a room left at a reasonable 50.00. Sold! We declared we were taking it and began plotting a course for Malad.
It’s a tiny town—and a kind of a rundown looking motel, which didn’t take cats, but our promise to leave them in the car (where they would have been ok, with food, water, and litter) touched the soft spot in the motel manager, who installed us AND the cats in a very comfy room with good ac, so comfy we ended up staying there 3 more days, until time to drive to Bubonicon (yep, named for the plague) in Albuquerque. Where we met Paula and Michael and Serge and Sue…
Meanwhile I’d treated my arm with Epsom Salts and Hydrogen Peroxide from the store across the street…and while our cats did no damage, I ruined a washcloth. The doc sketched a 3-4″ swelling on my arm and prescribed Doxycycline, which means no dairy and no sunlight while on the med—the ink line came off on the washcloth I was using for a commpress, so we bought a pack of 4 washcloths across the street (similar quality if not identical) and saved our rep. It was such a comfy room we engaged it for our return trip, and it is now on our list of places to stop.
The arm is fine now.
Shu is quite sorry. He spent several days being super-nice.
More about trip next post or so.