By the time this column hits the paper, the much prepared for, long awaited solar eclipse will be history. Most who traveled distances to share the moons total blockage of the sun will either be home or well on their way to sleeping in their own beds. Folks living in the path of totality will be cleaning up after their guests and evaluating the success of their preparations for the big event. Some will simply enjoy returning to a sense of normalcy.
Many communities in the 14 state path of totality, meaning the moon completely obscures the sun, have spent the past two years planning for an influx of visitors who will require food and shelter as well as specialty eye glasses to protect their vision while gazing at this astronomical extravaganza. Shrewd business people have relished a marketing opportunity never seen before in their lives. Lodging sites and restaurants have advertised their services for the past 12 months. Despite increased rates, many are booked with waiting lists. Creative types are selling specialty t-shirts, jewelry, funny photos (the Marysville Black Squirrel in eclipse glasses), and other ephemera to local and tourists who join their celebrations.
Though the song says, “Dance like no one is watching,” this historic occasion is a time to move like everyone is watching. In some cases, that will be true. Many media outlets, including National Geographic, plan to film the actual eclipse as well as local activities that include everything from kid karnivals to car shows to concerts. For some tiny towns, this is a chance to focus the eyeball of the world on what makes them special.
This unique opportunity offers professional and citizen scientists a chance to study everything from cosmic data to animal responses to the eclipse. One meteorologist in Colorado provided a link so those interested could share their observations.
Speaking of observing, one friend headed to Oregon where she’d be one of the first to view the eclipse on American soil. Several others intend to double their pleasure while savoring more than two minutes of Totality near Grand Teton National Park. They sandwiched this once in a lifetime experience between stunning sunrises over some of the most majestic mountains on the planet.
Another lady told me she was heading to Marysville, KS, where she’ll enjoy a shorter sun blockage but with the famous black squirrels. A fellow history buff is aligning past and present by viewing the eclipse from an ancient Pawnee campground in Nebraska. What a way to embrace two interesting experiences.
As for me, I now live smack in the path of totality. I’ve got my eclipse glasses along with extra water and toilet paper, just in case tourist numbers exceed expectations. It’s crazy to think so many people are willing to plan vacations around an eclipse, but then again, it’ll never occur again in our lifetimes.
I’ll enjoy nature’s big production. When it’s over, I’ll relish life returning to normal—whatever that is.