Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Bucket List: Complete!

When I experienced the total solar eclipse back in 2017, I was blown away with how amazing it was, and it exceeded my expectations, since I didn't really know what to expect. I felt so lucky and blessed to live right smack dab in the path of totality. With all of the excitement and eclipse news coverage in 2017, I learned there would be another total solar eclipse that would pass very close to where I live on April 8, 2024. That date stuck in my mindit was easy to remember, because that's the day my good friend Lacee would turn 40and I was determined to be in the path of totality so I could experience that celestial phenomenon for a second time. I told my mom that seeing the total solar eclipse on 4/8/24 was the ONLY thing on my bucket list, and that I could die a happy woman after seeing it. (Sure, there are tons of things I would like to do, but with my limitations, most of them are not feasible. Plus, I am a happy, content person, and I don't have a lot of wild, "bucket list"-type dreams.)

Yesterday was the day! Days prior I began praying, asking Heavenly Father to please help the weather conditions be favorable for optimal eclipse viewing, and He answered! There were minimal clouds, and none that obstructed our view of the eclipse. Back in 2017, totality lasted for a maximum of 2 minutes and 25 seconds, but this time totality lasted for a maximum of 4 minutes and 10 seconds. I didn't want to drive all the way south to Jackson or Cape Girardeau, Missouri, so we settled on Ste. Genevieve. We have a friend that lives there, and she was gracious enough to allow my mom, my sister Chandra and her kids and me to come watch the eclipse with them.

I seeeriously underestimated the amount of traffic there would be! My mom and I wanted to follow Chandra down to our friends house (since we've never been there before), so we planned to leave for Chandra's house about 11:30 AM. (The first contact of the eclipse began at 12:45 PM, and totality was at 2 PM.) One of my friends let me know before 8:30 AM that traffic on the highway was crawling, so my mom and I left for Chandra's house at 10:15 AM (instead of 11:30). It usually takes us 15 minutes to get down to Chan's place, but it took us an hour! After she loaded her kids in her van, it took us another 45 minutes to drive less than half a mile just to get back on the highway. 😕 I was starting to wonder if we would even make it to Ste. Genevieve on time. Thankfully, the traffic really picked up once we got out of Jefferson County. The traffic was still heavy, but we were at least moving along at a speed of about 50 miles an hour, instead of sitting in gridlock.

Totality was AMAZING!  There are really no words to describe the phenomenon. But spectacular, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and out of this world are just some of the words I can think of to describe the eclipse. It's something you see and feel. The sky definitely got darker this time, as opposed to 2017, and I could feel the temperature drop. I was almost chilly in my long-sleeved shirt when the sun was completely eclipsed by the moon. The 2 minutes and 44 seconds of totality flew by! Something that surprised me during both eclipses is just how bright the sky gets as soon as there is the tiniest sliver of unobstructed sun after the moon moves enough to let sunshine out again.

I was so grateful everything worked out so I could go. I was so happy to be able to experience the eclipse with Chandra's kids. I know Rosie won't remember it, as she is not even 18 months yet, but hopefully Christian (8) and Ruby (6) will remember it. I made sure to take a picture with them to help them remember this special, supernatural event long after the details start to get fuzzy in their minds.

I just reclined my wheelchair and enjoyed the show!
My friend snapped these pictures for me on her cell phone:

One of the best parts of the eclipse was that it was a fun event to unify and bring people together. That was special, especially since [some] people in the world seem to have gotten so mean, nasty and divisive in the past 15-20 years. I just want people to be happy and to get along, even if they disagree on different political and social issues.

Another happy thing related to the eclipse was getting to reconnect with two friends that I dearly love. Nate came to town to see the eclipse, and he and our friend Laura came over to visit with my mom, Chandra and me. We had a great time reminiscing about all the fun times we've shared over the past 15+ years that we've been a part of each other's lives. 

A huge shout out and THANK YOU to my amazing mom for making this dream of mine come true and for driving FIVE hours round-trip in traffic that was very slow. It took us about two hours to crawl home with all of the other eclipse watchers that were heading home.

The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the United States won't be until August 2044, and that one will just barely hit the US (only Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota will see it). I sure hope I am dead by then! Sure, I will only be 60, but my desire is to die young!


Anonymous said...

Very cool experience you shared

Jessica said...

I’m SO glad you made it! ❤️

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