Thursday, August 24, 2017

Eclipse Camping

For a year we've been planning on going somewhere in the line of totality for the August 2017 total solar eclipse.  Most of the parks and open spaces were charging an arm and a leg for a parking spot - but we, being a Scouting family, were able to get a reservation at Camp Gieger Scout reservation, for free.  Only about 300 people were scheduled to be at the 1,000 acre reservation - no overcrowding here!

The original plan was to go up Saturday with the whole family - but one son had a scout campout with the troop; the other kids were scheduled out with their respective fathers for their weekends.  They wouldn't be home till 7PM Sunday.  With the eclipse traffic hitting on Monday, we went ahead and set up camp Saturday and planned to come home and fetch kids on Sunday, returning Sunday night.
Panorama of the campsite

Sunday comes and goes and we head back up I29 to Saint Joseph, MO for a night of camping.   The site had some heavy rain and straight line winds and one ancient tent failed to stay waterproof.  Fortunately, I had a spare REI Quarter Dome 1, so it was quickly set up for the middle son.

Monday arrives and boredom sets in with the kids - they aren't used to no-program camping and weren't sure what to make of themselves.  They ended up exploring and found toads:


They also left the place better than we found it - using a 'fishing magnet' he built at his dad's they trolled a trail near the campsite and found about a box of decking screws left behind from summer camp:


But the morning passed quickly and the eclipse started!  We were starting to get socked in by clouds but still able to see the moon eclipsing the sun.  Unfortunately, right at 1PM the rain rolled in and heavy clouds blocked the totality from viewing.  Even without being able to see the totality, we could easily observe the effects as the bugs started chirping, the light dropped and it appeared to be midnight in the middle of the day:

Campsite at totality - 1:10 PM 

With the continuing rain and disappointment of missing the totality, we voted and decided to spend the next 4 hours on the road in traffic instead of hanging out in the rain.  Wet tents were stuffed and the van loaded back up.  May not have been the best choice as traffic was as heavy as I've seen in the country.  After a few hours on the road, tempers were short and the typical family roadtrip fussing and fighting broke out.  We survived, if not thrived, and returned home by 6PM to watch the eclipse show we recorded on TV at home. 

Not an optimal weekend - bad schedules, bad weather, etc - but still memorable.  And possibly our last family vacation before the oldest daughter goes off to college next year!

Your humble correspondent,

- Will England

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