Monday, April 8, 2024

Solar Eclipse Report from Texas


Our eclipse glasses ready and tested, we got up at 6 am and headed towards Eagle Pass Texas, weather be damned, we were going to see the eclipse if it killed us.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  My grandma Lucille saw one in 1954 cooking breakfast but for us, alas seen some partial events but never totality.

The drive to the place where it would be total was close but not that close. It was a long trip and about 70 miles away from Eagle Pass and in the middle of nowhere, we had a flat tire.  Undeterred, we pulled into a truck stop north of Laredo, but the compressor was broken.  Limping the car nine miles up the road, we found one that worked or at least it was supposed to work.  It finally did and we were back on the road.  I had planned a random stop at a wayside on the US Highway west of Eagle Pass but driving through Carrizo Springs, a Texas Highway Department sign said "NO STOPPING FOR ECLIPSE ON THE HIGHWAY."  Cops were everywhere or so it seemed.  Texas was going to punish anyone apparently, spitting on the sidewalk, illegals, people seeking birth control, and eclipse watchers.  I suspected the penalties would be severe but, we kept going.  How many people could be at a picnic area two hours before an eclipse?

The answer was a lot.  Some had tented overnight, even.  

We drove up a few miles past the picnic area and pulled into ranch road while Silja hopped a fence, found a bush, and I read a sign, and got honked at for apparently breaking another Texas law...heck the flowers need water in these parts.  We went back and got ready for the show.  The parking lot was full, so we pulled on the shoulder, probably illegally.

The busy traffic kept driving past and almost all of the trucks and some of the cars on the highway honked and we could NOT tell if they were jeering or cheering....But who cared?  I just wondered if the sky would clear enough, it looked doubtful and then, like I am always the lucky birder, I was ALSO the lucky eclipse watcher, the sun began to appear... and then it started.

A squadron of old planes flew over

I got bored and looked for butterflies seeing a gray hairstreak, a common butterfly in the USA, but got a nice shot.

It started to get dark, headlights came on automatically, so I got ready and back to my post and then the traffic stopped honking, in fact, the traffic pretty much stopped, and everyone was on the side of the road, ignoring the Governor's orders.

Almost totality!

Then a total eclipse and you could see flares of the sun!!  The crowd of onlookers on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in SW Texas cheered.  It was grand, it was great, it was un-describable and it was dark.

Well it was dark until some people who had not left their car in an hour opened their car door and their headlights came on.  They got jeered by many for ruining the moment, but their lights went off.

And then it was past, nearly 4 minutes later

That was that, for ten minutes, traffic stopped and the America came together and even the border guard at the check station up the road was asking what we saw and Silja showed the officer a picture of totality.  The other officers had on their glasses.  

We drove back and heard four more hours of our book on tape about someone who bought and old mining town in California.  It was a bucket list type event, but it was not on either of ours but probably should have (the eclipse, not buying a ghost town).

The wonders of this world are beyond description



1 comment:

  1. We stayed home and had the same viewing experience. So glad it worked out for you guys.


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