Despite many last minute changes, and a very touch and go moment where I was both hangry and missing Game of Thrones, we survived our eclipse trip!
We drove down to Sioux City as originally planned and had a fun little evening that included the Blue Bunny ice cream parlor, and the best goddamn steak I’ve ever had. There is no picture of the steak, but if you ever find yourself traveling through Iowa, do yourself a favor and go to Archie’s Waeside. We’re actually considering a B&B weekend just to have that steak again.
But then we got back to the hotel (which had every channel except for regular HBO for some reason) and checked the weather patterns that night. This is when we saw that there was going to be cloud over over all of Nebraska and were debating whether or not to chance it.
Here’s GC telling me that we need to make a call on going to Nebraska or going somewhere else entirely.
We decided to sleep on it and have brunch the next morning to figure it out. Well, that didn’t happen, because the weather looked even more dicey when we got up. So he managed to find the only hotel room available in western South Dakota and decided we were going to either see it in Agate, Nebraska or at Carhenge, or if necessary even further out west. So we checked out early in Iowa, grabbed breakfast at a coffee shop, and hit the road for 8 hours end to end on the South Dakota/Nebraska border.
We did stop for a bit to take in the sights at the Fort Randall dam. We lucked out and had really fantastic weather the whole trip, with cloud cover being about as bad as it got.
So we got to our hotel in South Dakota in the evening, and given the reviews of the place, the hotels were fine but the food was awful. So I told him I was fine with catching the late airing of GoT and we headed to Hot Springs for dinner.
It took an hour and a half to get seated, which meant I was crashing since I didn’t have much since that breakfast in Iowa. So of course I got a little hangry, but he’s pretty much the best and just let it play out without getting mad at me. Once I had a salad, I was fine. And while waiting, we were anxiously going over weather reports (again), and decided we better make the trip out to Wyoming if we wanted to be 100% without cloud cover. So we scoured the map to see what was closest to the center line and found a tiny random town called Jay Em. It’s tiny because it’s a ghost town, population: 9.
So we got a decent amount of sleep, and hit the road again through western Nebraska into Wyoming.
Clearly, we were not the only ones who made this plan. But we met a bunch of lovely people from all over, and this teeny town was so gracious to us! The post office set up a table to sell post cards from Jay Em, but I didn’t have addresses easily accessible so I didn’t send any. They had porta potties everywhere, and I chatted with the local Pastor’s wife who said that a regular church Sunday would be 40 people, they were giving away ice water to everyone. There were easily around 500 in their town.
We met people who came in from all over, including the family parked in front of us from Manitoba, a family with two surly teens from NYC, and a couple from Denver who brought along their little doggo that they couldn’t leave alone with their regular sitter because of her leg. She tried to break up a fight between a squirrel and a hawk, and the hawk bit her.
And then, we saw it. And it was amazing. The black eyed susans on the ground started to close up, the birds started flying, the wind got really cold, the sky became this muted blue, and the cicadas got louder.
It was much bigger than we thought it would be, partially because our vantage point was so clear right by the side of the road. So the corona lights just stretched out forever. We could see planes passing right above us, and stars and planets. It was gorgeous. This was taken at 11:48 AM yesterday.
And it was gone as soon as it came. So we hit the road again, through Nebraska and up through the Badlands.
He got his first ever speeding ticket in southern Minnesota late into the night after a weekend of non-stop driving, which was the only real damper on the whole trip. And we got home around 3am and passed out.
No more road trips for a while. If we’re still together in 4 years, we’re planning a trip to Mexico for the next one to hit North America.
ETA: here’s a clip of me flipping out as if was happening. I wanted to have my camera out because I knew I’d be too distracted to take pictures.