We All Did Our Part

If you’ve ever seen a total solar eclipse, you may be hooked. We saw one in 2017 at the Riverton City Park in Wyoming.* As the moon completed its consumption of the sun, we took off our eclipse glasses and stared at the black ball surrounded by a halo of fire. I remember saying a few intelligible things like “Oh My God” and “I can’t believe it,” followed by a lot of random sounds of awe, before bursting into tears. After I recovered and returned to planet earth, my first question was “When and where is the next one?” After that once-in-a-lifetime experience, I was eager to make it twice-in-a-lifetime. Roberto fiddled on his phone for a while. “It’s April 8, 2024, and Texas would be the closest to us.”

“2024?! Texas?! Oh, no,” I moaned. “I’ll be old, really old by then, and Texas may have seceded from the union — or at least closed their borders to us radical New Mexicans.”

But the years rolled by and before I knew it, I was plotting how to be in Texas, April 8, 1:29 pm Central Daylight Time. In January, I began the search for locations within the path of totality for viewing and lodging. Working with friends who signed on to the caravan, we chose southwest Texas, the closest drive from Santa Fe. I snagged rooms in Junction (pop. 2,514) at a Quality Inn for $398 a night (rate before and after the eclipse was $99). Roberto and I hitched a ride with our friend Carolyn, and headed for our first night in Brownfield, Texas. Excitement was high as we chatted in the restaurant with fellow eclipse travelers – all of us in our eclipse T-shirts — comparing notes on past eclipses, sharing adventures from the road, and checking the weather forecasts.

Roberto snaps view from the back seat. Carolyn at the wheel.

Next day took us through Big Spring and San Angelo to Junction, known for its recreation areas, waterways, and music concerts. But all any of us cared about was the path of totality. We were in it! Now all we had to do was eat dinner, sleep, wake up, and wait for 1:29 PM.

Sunrise found us all – the whole motel-full – outside our rooms staring upward. Clouds, scattered, high, a few lower, much chatter about whether or not to make a two-hour drive northeastward where the minute-by-minute forecast looked a little better? Some took off, hopes high; we decided to stick with Junction. It was our destination and we had developed a loyalty to that spot on the map, now a reality for us.

Lucy and Roberto ready for the big show

We decided to view the eclipse from a nearby state park just a few miles away, and settled in with cooler, chairs, hats, sunscreen (optimistically) and a variety of eye wear – eclipse glasses, goggles and welding headgear. We were ready! The park was a perfect place, not crowded, just a few people in the small amphitheater with stone benches. Around us were wildflowers, shade trees, butterflies and lizards, a gentle breeze, warm sun. Yes, the sun was visible, the sky clear. We killed two hours walking, talking and snacking, until the moment the moon began its journey across the face of the sun. Then we goggled up and tipped back in our camping chairs. We saw the moon’s first “nibble” at the right side of the sun, the nibbles slowly working their way across the face until the sun was a fat crescent.

from the internet but gives you the idea

By this time clouds were drifting in front of the sun, some wispy, some more substantial. I was charmed. The crescent sun bobbed and wove between the clouds, like a little sailing ship on the ocean. The illusion was of a tiny boat, moving through this watery, heavenly landscape, although of course, it was the clouds that were moving. Yes, moving a little more rapidly in fact, covering the crescent sun completely for a few seconds and then clearing, with the little vessel popping through to continue its voyage. As I watched fascinated, the crescent became thinner and thinner, and seemingly brighter and brighter, as it sailed on through the clouds.

another from the internet

With totality just a few seconds away, I saw through my glasses a small dark cloud headed straight for the center of the crescent, from right to left. There was an incredible flash of light on the outside of the crescent which must of have been what they call the “diamond ring,” a burst of light just before the sun is covered in totality. And then there was darkness. Totality had happened. I took off my glasses hoping to see that black orb surrounded by the golden glow that I remember so well seven years before… but the cloud had covered the event. Night had fallen, the air was eerie, silent.

The eclipse was happening. It was total, and remarkable, and powerful… and for me apparently only once-in-a-lifetime. I counted the minutes, one, two, three… Maybe the cloud would move on before totality ended, but it stayed put until the moon began its slow reveal. Faithfully, we stayed in our chairs, heads tilted upward and watched the sun grow from a crescent sliver on the right to its full self again, sailing through denser and denser clouds.

Of course we were disappointed not to see totality, but for me the important thing is that I was there. Like all other living things in the path of totality – human and otherwise – I was a witness to the eclipse.  I felt its magnitude as day turned to night, the temperature dropped, and the air filled with a strange calm. The birds fell silent, and so did we. The earth held its breath. When people ask “Did you see the total eclipse,” I answer, “I was there and it was awesome.”

We all agreed the trip was worth every penny and every mile. We traveled to be part of this rare and awesome drama, and we all showed up. The sun was there, the moon was there, the little black cloud was there and we were there. We all did our part.  

Junction, Texas, April 8, 2024. We were there.

*For blog on 2017 eclipse, see https://lucymoore.com/face-to-face/

6 thoughts on “We All Did Our Part”

  1. We had a partial eclipse here in NC and a group of us got together to watch. It was so much fun. Ow we are plotting to go to Spain to see the next one. I love how long your hair is!

    Much love to you both

  2. Your story brought it all back! Right here in Seattle, in summer or late Spring—very sunny. Jim and I shared the miracle with our (generation-younger) next door neighbor—she on her 2nd story deck, we on ours. The darkness, sudden chill—goosebumps, wrapping my arms around my body, wished I’d brought a sweater— the silence of the birds.
    Then, gratitude for the return of light, the warmth—you cannot help but imagine what the experience was like for people 5,000 years ago. And what were the birds thinking?
    Thank you for bringing it back.

    1. And thank you, Tyson, for bringing it all back for me! It’s great to keep that experience alive by exchanging stories.

  3. Lucy: We just missed you guys. Passed through Junction on our way to and from Buchanan Reservoir. Had a nice visit to S. Llano State Park.

    1. Hi Uncle Steve! sorry to have missed. We were quite impressed with the state park… when we took our eyes off the sky and looked around us.

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