Great American {Total} Eclipse

Early this summer, Clayton called me from work one day, excited to tell me about this solar eclipse thing that would be happening on August 21.  I hadn't heard of it, but it sounded like such a great way to end the summer.  He ordered eclipse glasses and we made plans to stay at our family's cabin in Wyoming, so we could be close to the path of totality.  Up to this point, I remember seeing a partial solar eclipse once in high school, and a couple lunar eclipses.  Little did I know what an experience we were going to have.  Seeing a TOTAL eclipse is a completely different thing!

We traveled up to Wyoming a few days before the eclipse.  We invited our friends, Dave and Megan and their kids, and we spent the weekend relaxing in the hammock, floating the Salt River, hiking to the springs in Afton, and eating too many treats!  Lots of my extended family arrived at the cabin throughout the weekend, and it was so much fun to be there all together.  We laughed until we cried while playing the game Telestrations! {If you've never played this game, you are missing out!}

Olivia loved watching the solar eclipse, and the cool eclipse glasses didn't hurt either.

Olivia loved watching the solar eclipse, and the cool eclipse glasses didn't hurt either.

The morning of the eclipse, everyone was up early.  Twenty-four people dressed and ready to go, grabbing a quick breakfast in the kitchen together.  Such a feeling of excitement!  Clayton and Dave had driven an hour north into Idaho the night before, to scout out the perfect viewing spot in the path of TOTALITY.  We had considered driving to the Grand Tetons for the eclipse, but wondered if it would be super crowded up there?  Anyway, our little caravan of cars made it without any crazy traffic into Swan Valley, Idaho, where we set up at the school.  The playground and tether ball kept the kids entertained while waiting for the big moment!

Through our eclipse glasses we could see the sun slowing being slivered away by the covering of the moon.  {It reminded me of a Jim Henson movie that my siblings and I loved as kids, The Dark Crystal, when all the planets align for "The Great Conjunction" and this big crystal thing is healed and their world is saved.  Ha!  My cousins knew just what I was talking about.}

Here's what we saw through our fancy glasses.

Here's what we saw through our fancy glasses.

Surprisingly, as the sun become more and more covered by the moon, its light was still blinding.  Even when it was down to the last sliver, we couldn't look at the sun without our eclipse glasses.  However, the light all around us did look different, but not like the glow of sunrise or sunset.  It was like seeing everything through sunglasses, when we weren't wearing any. 

The sunlight was still so bright just before totality, but it appeared that we were seeing everything around us through a filter or sunglasses.

The sunlight was still so bright just before totality, but it appeared that we were seeing everything around us through a filter or sunglasses.

Then ... CRICKETS started chirping and the air went cold.  Something crazy was definitely about to happen!  We watched the moon move closer and closer to that last bit of still bright sun. Then it was gone!  I couldn't see a thing through my eclipse glasses, so I took them off.  And there it was - the giant black circle of the moon, with the most heavenly, pure white light I've ever seen in my life flowing all around its edges - the sun's corona.  I had expected the light of the corona to be golden, but it wasn't.  It was white beyond description.  Breathtaking is an understatement!  The light flowed as if it were alive, moving and stretching all around the outer edges of the moon.  It was as dark as night around us.  All was silent for a second as we were in awe!  Then came the cheering and laughing and goosebumps and maybe even a few tears!  Will laughed and stomped his feet a bunch and ran around and yelled, it was just the most amazing thing!

Total eclipse, no eclipse glasses needed at this point.  Dark as night at 11:37 in the morning! 

Total eclipse, no eclipse glasses needed at this point.  Dark as night at 11:37 in the morning! 

HANDS DOWN THE COOLEST THING I'VE SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. 

Stars appeared above our heads (Venus in particular) and I shouted over to Ben, Hannah and Nina who were watching from the top of the monkey bars.  They couldn't hear me above all the noise, they told me afterward that they noticed the stars too.

I knew I wasn't going to take any photos that would be better than what NASA would be taking, so initially I decided to not even bother, and to just enjoy the moment (since totality would only last about two minutes).  Then, at the last second, I couldn't help myself.  I grabbed my Nikon, cranked up the ISO to 6400 and was grateful that it was in manual focus.  I somehow managed to snap this as beads of light peeked over the rough surface of the moon, and the diamond came dazzling around the right edge.  There's even a little bit of sun flare!

solar eclipse 2017

What an amazing experience!  So surreal.  It happened so quickly that it felt like a dream.  None of us could stop laughing and smiling.  So happy and grateful we made the effort to be there in the path of totality, and that we had a nice place to stay in the meantime with so many wonderful family members and friends!

Afterward, we overwhelmed the lady who was single-handedly running a roadside corn dog stand next to an ice cream shop {yes we had some of each}.  We kept glancing up between bites to see whether eclipse was still in progress {it was for a little while}.  Then, what should've been an hour long drive back to the cabin became a three hour drive!  Now there was traffic!!  But we didn't care.  The experience was well worth it, and there were pretty views all along the way!

Palisades Lake, Wyoming.

Palisades Lake, Wyoming.

I'll never look at the sun the same way again.  Clayton and I talked on the drive back about how the sun truly is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  Its light can never be diminished, and neither can His.  The sun's light stayed powerfully bright right up until totality, even though it was 99.9% obstructed.  Then, when blackness was placed directly in front of it, and all the world went dark, the sun radiated pure heavenly light.  This is when it was the most magnificent.  The darkness made the light indescribably beautiful; perfectly desirable to look at.  It makes me think that maybe obstacles are allowed in our path so that we will look to Him; so that we can witness His perfect light more clearly than ever before.  And realize that it has always been there, and always will be.