The Great American Eclipse Trip part 3

Sunday morning came and we were up early, wanting to get started before the crowds. We had places to visit and things to do—A National Monument, a historic site, a state park and the city of Idaho Falls were on the list for the day. And what a beautiful morning for exploring!

We drove north on a 2-lane road, heading toward another out of the way National Monument. The drive took us through farmland, fields of potatoes and hay glistening in the early morning sunlight. As we drove we spotted something standing in the field, and then another….and still more….and then we realized that they were hawks, hunting in the early morning, standing in the cut hay fields. Magnificent site. We saw more hawks on that stretch of highway than on any other road trip…..simply amazing….a sweet surprise.

We drove through small towns, whose populations were 400 and 600…..yes, we were back in rural America. And then we came upon a town with a gas station and we stopped. The gas station had a small seating area and every chair was filled with one of the townsmen…..the older gentleman gathered there on a Sunday morning to talk and drink coffee. This scene made me smile. Life in a small town!

The fields and small towns, gems in our nations crown jewels.

We continued our journey, finally arriving at our first stop for the day, Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was early, but there were a lot of people already in the park and more would be coming….we needed to stay ahead of the masses……

Craters of the Moon National Monument was like entering another world. The lava flow covered everything. It was surreal….eerie…..and I thought about those early emigrants and how foreign this landscape must have seemed to them….how many wanted to turn around and go back to where they came from? Could they imagine a world beyond this barren, rippled, black landscape?

For thousands of years this land has been covered by this volcanic lava. This must be what the moon would look like……

A harsh land.

And in this harshness there was beauty….created by a flowing river of lava……and weathered over time. Beauty could be found even in the destructive forces of nature.

And life grows….finds a way to continue to flourish even in the harshest conditions. Here plants grew, flowers bloomed and animals roamed. Trees grew tall atop high cinder cones. Yes, life continues even in under extreme conditions…..

I found Craters of the Moon national monument fascinating, delighting in the flowing lava field….taking it all in. Here was another jewel in our nations crown jewels. Another example of the diversity in this country I love.

The British have their crown jewels, preserved and displayed in a tower for all to enjoy…..and we too, have our crown jewels—the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires—found in the diversity of our country…the diversity in our land, our people and our cultures. Our jewels are found in the mountains and the valleys, the rivers and the lakes, the oceans and the plains, the cities and the farms, the parks and monuments, the battlefields and the historic sites, in the people and the cultures all across this great land. Our crown jewels are on display and preserved for all to enjoy….we just have to see them, experience them, respect them, understand them, and embrace them so that we never lose our gems!

I am forever thankful that I live in a country that is as diverse as America is. And I am grateful for a husband who loves this country and exploring it as much as I do. Together we have seen many of our nations jewels…….

One more jewel was discovered on our trip.

One more National Monument checked off the bucket list!

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The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 2

We were off on our adventure…. The eclipse our goal—full totality. But for us, well, we like to pack as much as we can into the little time we have and this trip would be no different.

As I wrote in part one, my husband was already planning on traveling to the path of totality for the solar eclipse a year out. My husband likes to plan trips. He likes to explore. So, I knew when he said we were headed to Idaho that it would be an adventure….. and he made sure it was!

We left home Saturday morning and flew to Salt Lake City on a flight filled with others migrating north for the eclipse.

We arrived in Salt Lake City in the afternoon and headed straight to the rental car agency. We needed to be on the road as quickly as we could….there was lots to do and see on our drive north to Idaho.

The line at the rental car agency was long! I was surprised, despite the warnings, that so many people were doing the same thing as us….off on the great adventure to see a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Okay, so maybe the hype wasn’t too far off…. maybe we really did need to be prepared for anything! With hundreds of thousands heading toward totality, maybe the media hype and the dire warnings warranted paying attention to.

Finally, we were in our car and headed to our first stop, the store. We needed to stock up on water and snacks and get a gas can, just in case the predictions came true and gas stations ran out of gas. After all, we did need to make it back to Salt Lake City in two days to catch our flight home.

With supplies purchased and lunch eaten, we were finally on the road, driving north toward Burley, ID, where we were staying.

But first a slight detour on the way….

Yes, my husband likes to explore and often finds off-the-beaten-path, out-of-the-way, you-REALLY-want-to-go-there places to see. And I LOVE that about him. It makes our life interesting, traveling adventurous and gives us views of the world, specifically this wonderful country we live in, that we would not otherwise see. (Thankfully this trip did not involve any river fords!!)

We left the interstate before crossing into Idaho and headed west on a 2-lane highway. We were now amongst fields….ranches….farmland……all dotted with tiny towns that had no stores, no gas stations and no stop lights. We were in rural America and we loved the beauty and serenity.

As we drove down the road we wondered what life was like for these families, wishing we could just sit and talk and learn about this life that was so vastly different than where we lived… our life where there is a store or gas station on almost every corner, and restaurants to satisfy any desire. Out here, in the middle of fields and mountains there were homes that were surrounded by trees, islands in the midst of enormous fields and the nearest neighbor miles away. Strange to me to imagine life this way, yet the beauty and peace of this wide-open space invited me in. This life so foreign to me was just as strange and foreign as my life in a city was to those who lived here.

We enjoyed the drive, taking in the scenery and talking. And then we noticed a historical marker on the side of the road, causing us to make an impromptu stop…. History draws us both in, fascinated by the stories of life all across this great country. Here we learned that the road we were traveling and the valley along it were part of the California Trail, once traveled by pioneers and wagon trains….ahhhh….a happy place for me! I love the old west, the stories of the pioneers, the stories of traveling across the country in a wagon—setting out on a new adventure and traveling to a new place, unknown to them. I have longed thought I was born in the wrong century and often dreamt about living in the 1800’s and traveling in a wagon….life on the prairie…..life of a pioneer and explorer. It would have been so cool!

Now as we continued on to our destination, I began to wonder what it was like for those early pioneers, how strange this world must have seemed to them and how BRAVE they were!

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And then just a few miles short of our next stop we saw a Visitors Center, with wagons in the field, replicas of those used to travel the California Trail.

Heaven!

Now I could see the wagon in person and visualize what it must have been like traveling in that wagon across the rugged land.

Then I looked in the back of the wagon…….boy, those wagons looked much bigger inside when I saw t2hem on old westerns, or on Little House on the Prairie, or imagined them as I read books about the old west….hmmm….

I looked into the back of the wagon, looked at my husband and told him- “No! It’s too small. I wouldn’t have made it!”

He laughed!

 

I am so happy I could entertain him.

And then we continued on to our planned stop, City of Rocks National Reserve, a place you really HAVE to want to go to.

City of Rocks National Reserve is now a mecca for rock climbers….a place filled with massive rocks jutting up out of the ground. Beautiful. Huge. A paradise for those who seek the thrill of climbing….of heights. We enjoyed the drive through the reserve, stopping to take photos, explore and to watch those brave souls high on the rocks.

But City of Rocks National Reserve also has a history. Here the California Trail crossed and in the valley those early pioneers rested, setting up camp and carving their names in what is now known as Camp Rock. I stood with my husband overlooking the vast valley, dotted with huge boulders and surrounded by massive rock formations now used for climbing and wondered what it was like to travel this route in that wagon, the visual of the size now fading….I was once again transported to a time I had longed to live. After traveling across the flat plains, what did those travelers think about this rugged land? Did they fall in love with the beauty or did they fear what was ahead and the dangers of the ruggedness? Oh, how I wanted to sit there in that valley and be a part of those days…..

I loved City of Rocks National Reserve and our time exploring. My husband knows how to make our travels an adventure. I also enjoyed my time imagining a life long ago, one I could only dream about, a world I wished I had been born into….

And then the next day on our trip I had an opportunity to learn more about those early pioneers, their life and to see a part of the Oregon trail. And I learned that the reality of those wagon trains was VERY different than I had imagined….those wagons were more for the supplies and those very BRAVE souls WALKED….they didn’t ride….they WALKED most of the time. And a woman’s work was never done…at the end of a long day of travel, she would cook the dinner, clean, do laundry, take care of the chores and then go to bed, long after the rest of her family…..hmmm….walking long days and then long hours of chores…..hmmmm

I again looked at my husband, who was smiling at me as I read the information and I said “THAT would have been REALLY difficult! Nope! I wouldn’t have made it..”

He laughed even harder!

How I admire the strength and courage of those pioneers paving the way for those who would come after them. And I will continue to read the stories and dream of that life and what it was like for them, what it would have been like for me had I been born in that era.

And though, today, in this moment in my life…one filled with comfort and conveniences, I know that I would not have been able to live the way they did in the 1800’s, I also realize that this realization is not about me, but about what I know today. When I look back in time with the knowledge and context of 2017, of course I wouldn’t be able to live the way the pioneers did! I know different. I live different. So, with this context, no, I couldn’t have done it….

But….

Had I been born in that time it would have been different. In looking back on history it really is about context, the knowledge and the world at THAT time. Realizing that I needed to put it into the context of those days, that time, the knowledge and way of life then, well, THAT changed things. By looking at the past in the context of the past, the knowledge and the way of life, it changed my belief in my ability to do it. This epiphany meant that had I been born in the 1800’s, then those wagon trains, the traveling, the hard work would have been normal, it would have been doable. By putting it into the right context, I realized that I WOULD have been able to DO IT! Despite my doubts in my abilities, I am strong and brave and what gets me through my days now….my family, my friends, my faith….ALL would have gotten me through those days, those travels, those times.

As I shared this new thought process with my husband, he smiled and laughed.

And I once again began to dream about living in the 1800’s and traveling by wagon.

If I had been born in the 1800’s, I have NO DOUBT that I would have taken the leap……and trusted as I set out with my family to travel the unknown in search of a new life!

 

 

The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 1

I thought my husband was just slightly crazy when he told me over a year ago that we WERE going to go to Oregon or Idaho to be in the path of totality for the Eclipse. He was excited. He explained it was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he didn’t want us to miss it….

Except, it wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime event…. I was in the 8th grade in Portland, OR, in 1979 and my science class was preparing to view the total eclipse that would be happening right there in Portland on February 26th. I was excited back then. We built our boxes and prepared to see what we were told would be the only time in our lives we would get to see the phenomenon.

The morning of February 26 1979 arrived and……. the darkness I was told to expect did not arrive……I was not impressed……and so when my husband told me about this next eclipse and his plans, well, I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. I figured it would just be all hype with no substance.

I should let you know that on the morning of February 26th, 1979, I was missing my mom and we were preparing for her funeral, having lost her just 2 days prior……perhaps that was the real reason the eclipse that day did not impress me. I really don’t remember much about that morning other than we did not plunge into sudden darkness. (though in my research looking back on it, Portland did experience 2 minutes of totality and darkness on that morning, I just didn’t notice).

So to be fair, I decided to go along for the ride with my husband, thrilled at seeing his excitement.

He planned the trip.

He chose where we would see it.

And then he planned more for us to do in the quick 2-night trip.

My husband was in heaven planning this trip to see the total eclipse.

The day arrived and we left Arizona bound for Idaho. The eclipse was the last day of our trip and then we would drive back to Salt Lake City to catch our evening flight home……making the flight concerned us because of the hundreds of thousands said to be flocking to the area of totality….and the warnings to have extra water, cash, gas, emergency rations, just in case we lost cell service and gas stations ran out of gas…. hmmm…. the hype was making it sound as if the apocalypse was coming.

The morning of the eclipse we left our hotel room before the sun came up for the 2-hour drive to Idaho Falls and the city park we had chosen for our viewing spot. We were prepared just in case traffic was as crazy as predicted, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive before the start of the eclipse.IMG_0302 copy

Once again, my husband’s planning paid off and we arrived at the city park on the south side of Idaho Falls and there were still a few parking spots. Woohoo! We were going to get to see the eclipse.

We walked around the small pond, made small talk with strangers in the line for the bathrooms, and talked with each other to fill the couple of hours before the eclipse would start. Anticipation building as the time grew nearer.

We were ready.20170821_082930 copy

The time arrived for the start of the phenomenon where the moon would come between the sun and the earth and cast us into total darkness……

It was exciting to be standing there with so many others who were just as excited. As the eclipse started and I watched my husband put his special glasses on and look up at the sun, I couldn’t help but smile……he was checking off a bucket list item and he was happy, and THAT made me happy.

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It took some time for the moon to move across the sun and as it moved the light became dimmer, and the air cooler.

 

 

IMG_0306 copyAt one point when the moon covered more than 2/3 of the sun, we noticed that the edges of our shadows were less defined… blurred…. strange…..

We kept watching the moon moving over the sun, amazed at how much light still emanated from the giant star. And then the time came……the moon covered the sun!

 

 

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Totality!

Everyone cheered!

And it WAS dark! We could see some stars! The light emanating from the corona of the sun was like that of a full moon night. Wow!

I was IMPRESSED!

We took our special viewing glasses off and for 1 minute and 48 seconds we could look at the sun without them. This was AMAZING!

And then the edge of the sun began to emerge…. time to put those glasses on again.

The total eclipse was amazing and surreal. Day became night, warmth turned cool, and shadows blurred with undefined edges. The biggest star in our universe was suddenly obscured and we were thrilled!

I couldn’t help but think about all those early pioneers and what they must have thought as day became night for just a brief couple of minutes, how strange that must have been.

And I couldn’t help but think about the 1979 eclipse and how it reflected my life at the time, my own personal darkness had come upon me and made the actual eclipse seem uneventful……

This time, despite the worry and storm for us now, I was able to enjoy this eclipse…to see the awesomeness and beauty created by God! I was able to step back for a time and be present, mindful and aware of the greater universe around me. How mighty God is and how amazing this life is!

The total eclipse gave me a wink from God…. that even on the sunniest days, day can become night, but the day will return and everything will be alright.

I am so thankful for my crazy husband who asked me to take a leap and trust him and his planning. This was AMAZING!

And I am so very happy to have taken the leap into the total eclipse…… (go ahead and sing, you know you want to…. total eclipse of the….)