Wednesday, April 24, 2024

April Updates: Eclipse & Other Whimsies

Short and sweet update on my life!

Last month, April, I traveled with Andy to Pittsburgh (his hometown) to go see the big 2024 eclipse.  

I have always wanted to see a total solar eclipse.  It's a major item on my bucket list, and I was planning to see the one back in 2017, in Oregon.  Unfortunately, my father died that week and I had to miss it.

With the next North American total solar eclipse not coming until 2045, I knew I had to make this one.

So we went to Pittsburgh with plans to drive out at dawn to get into the path of totality.  Our original plan, like many people's, was to go to Erie, PA, or Meadville.  But on the day of we discovered that clouds had moved in and it would not be good viewing conditions, so we went with our backup plan: Wooster, OH.

I invited my friends Kevin and Tom along for the roadtrip, which spanned Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and finally Ohio.  Kevin couldn't come but Tom showed up at dawn, and we ended up having an amazing time riding out to Wooster.  It was the typical roadtrip experience of sharing stories, pointing out horse-drawn carriages and signs for antique gun dealerships, stopping by crappy diners and gas stations, and getting increasingly excited for the big event.

In Wooster we went to the Wayne County Library.  We were there so early that there was not much to do except go by a local brewery and kill time.  

The eclipse began and took about 40 minutes to reach totality.  In the final 10 minutes the vibe was really one of total excitement.  The whole town stood still and everyone stood on lawns or in the street, staring up at the sun with eclipse glasses on.  (Calvin described the eclipse as looking like a cookie.) (He got nervous as the 2 p.m. afternoon, clear and sunny, slowly got darker and darker; he wanted to go inside the library near the middle of it.)

When the sun finally blinked out, everyone cheered.  Somewhere, someone set off fireworks.  The photo sensitive street lights blinked on.  It was dark, but dawn was in every direction; we could see the dim light on the horizon all around us.

And the ring of fire?  Amazing.  It wasn't moving, precisely, but it felt very alive, like it was buzzing or vibrating.  Tiny red specks (which I later found out were solar prominences, which are rings of plasma) were on the bottom of the ring.  The ring itself was a sort of opalescent color that doesn't quite have a name.

It was a sight that I had heard cannot be understood unless experienced, and I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment.  It literally brought tears to my eyes.  It was worth the trip.

Pictures don't do it justice but here's one, courtesy of my brother-in-law, who was there with us:

After seeing the eclipse on Monday, I got on a plane that Tuesday and flew to St. Louis to visit with my brother and his partner, Jonah.  We hit up City Museum, which is less of a museum and more of an architectural playground, and what I would consider the crown jewel of St. Louis.  You can learn more about it here or just look through these pictures of the whimsy and madness, although, like the eclipse, pictures just don't do the experience justice:

Other than that, we played Yahtzee, fed ducks, drank (at both the Armory, St. Louis's biggest bar, and a very tiny disco dive bar, possibly St. Louis's smallest bar) and, and generally just hung out for a couple days before I went home on Thursday.

It was a brief but very well-realized vacation, and when I returned to work I found that I had gotten Employee of the Month for March (another random thing I've always wanted!)  This bodes well for the long summer months ahead; my only goals for June and July are to work hard and save up for my next big trips in August and September.

Which isn't to say I'm not finding time to dress up as Spider-Man and hold baby goats.

Sometimes the best moments of our lives are the briefest moments of magic shared with our loved ones, be they friends, family, or baby goats.