The Great American Eclipse happened yesterday. It was awesome.
At first I was skeptical.
When my dad asked if we wanted to go see the eclipse in totality, I didn’t really understand what that meant.
All the eclipse maps put Birmingham at about 98% totality. Wouldn’t 98% be just as good as 100%? I mean, it is THE SUN, so it’s pretty much visible from the entire Western hemisphere, right?
Turns out that nope, 98% is not AT ALL like 100% totality. Not even close.
Every single thing I read online said if you were within driving distance of the path of totality that you should most definitely go see it. So finally– after some consideration– that’s what we did.
I knew I wanted to go somewhere without a lot of people (and traffic), so I chose eastern Tennessee as our destination. We found hotel rooms in Chattanooga, which is just 2 hours away on the interstate. Based on the maps this was our closest viewing place without a ton of people or festivals planned.
I didn’t really have a firm destination in mind until the actual day of the eclipse, when I talked to my mom and we agreed to head up toward Dayton and Spring City, TN. These were just about an hour north of Chattanooga and were both inside the path of totality, with Spring City being right smack dab on the center line. So, we drove another hour. Thankfully we had plenty of snacks.
The eclipse was scheduled to happen at 2:30 pm, but since we had no idea what the crowds would be like, we got up early and drove north to scope things out. We found a small festival happening in Spring City, so we decided to kill a few hours and let the kids play in the splash pad there.
We had a little picnic lunch and sweated it out in the shade for a few hours with a couple of hundred other people from all around the world. Parking was limited so we paid a lady $20 to park in her front yard. She said she had met people from Japan and Finland who came to tiny Spring City, TN just to watch this eclipse. Amazing.
Finally around 12:30 when we were all getting way too hot and cranky, we gave up and headed back to our cars for some air conditioning. We decided it would be best to drive south to Dayton to try to get ahead of the crowds of traffic that would all be leaving the festival at once.
Fortunately, we arrived in Dayton just in time for the local farmers market to end.
There were two open parking spaces underneath the sheds for the Farmer’s Market, so we parked in the shade and let Caroline nap in her carseat for a while. We took tons of selfies with our high-priced eclipse glasses. Mom had ordered a bunch but they got recalled so we had to scramble for some at the last minute. Whew. Retina-burning crisis avoided.
And this picture right here was totally worth the three hour drive… LOL!!!
Once the actual eclipse started happening we all got VERY excited.
We kept taking peeks at the sun to see how the progress was coming. First it looked like Pac-Man, then it looked like a crescent moon, then it slowly dissolved until it was just a sliver of light.
At that point all the crickets around us started chirping, the air got noticeably cooler, and the whole world looked like you were looking through a pair of BluBlockers. It’s hard to give an accurate description of what it looked like- not quite like dusk, just… dimmer. Almost like a cloud passed in front of the sun, but there was an eery feeling to it. It was similar to the feeling that happens when the sky turns green just before a tornado touches down.
And then… it happened. Totality. 100%.
I cannot really describe it with words, so instead I filmed our reaction so you can see it. Here is what we saw during The Great American Eclipse.
THAT WAS SO AMAZING!!! It was friggin INCREDIBLE!!
We had over 2 full minutes of total darkness. The stars came out. We saw planets in the middle of the day. The crickets chirped and there was a 360 degree sunset all around us. I have never experienced anything quite like it before, and I will NEVER forget it.
I’d also like to send a special shout-out to Moana for keeping Caroline entertained in the back seat so we didn’t have to wrangle her or worry about her accidentally searing her retinas.
She was happily oblivious to the entire event, chowing down on a hardcore bribe of Doritos and a backseat DVD player. Thank you, Moana!
I’m so glad my niece and Garrett got a chance to witness it first-hand. They both missed school for it, but it was totally worth it.
There will be another eclipse that crosses America in 2024. Mark your calendars. If you have a chance to go see it in totality I have just two words for you.