Wyoming experienced a massive influx of visitors during the solar eclipse. // © 2017 William Hochhaus
Feature image (above): The solar eclipse occurred on Aug. 21, 2017. // © 2017 Getty Images
In august, my 15 year-old daughter and I flew from Los Angeles to Denver and then drove to Wyoming to witness the total solar eclipse. Once there, we met up with my friend’s brother, who is a seasoned umbraphile (eclipse chaser). He had chosen Wyoming as his destination more than a year in advance.
Of course, the highlight of the trip was the eclipse itself. As my friend said, it was like getting to look at the supreme being for three minutes, and before you can think to ask the meaning of life, it’s gone. After the eclipse, the next best thing was meeting so many like-minded people (the population of Wyoming more than doubled for the event) and sharing stories with them.
I was particularly impressed by the flexibility and cooperation shown by everyone. The rest areas permitted camping, even though it’s usually against the rules, and the highway patrol officers allowed people to pull over where it normally would be illegal. Everyone recognized and respected the scale and scope of so many people peacefully gathering to see this amazing natural phenomenon.
I definitely plan on doing this again, and I think the key is to plan, plan and plan. We studied the eclipse route and then looked on Google maps to find the best spot that was away from city lights but near the highway so we could make our return trip. Had we not planned it so carefully, we could have gotten stuck, and missed our flight.
On a personal level, the experience definitely improved my relationship with my teenage daughter — and I think we both feel more connected to the universe itself. Next time, I will take the entire family. Seeing an eclipse truly highlights the gift and the beauty of our small place in this great expanse of a universe.