Yesterday we decided to drive down and meet my mother to see the solar eclipse in Du Quoin. Now, my boyfriend is not exactly the type that likes long distance travel and we have 4 kids, so even though I love travel this is no mere road trip. I made sure to have everything prepared for our little adventure….plenty of food, water, diapers, milk, toys, extra clothes, chargers, check vehicle fluids, tires, etc…. and when 4am came we were up and scrambling for coffee and last minute needs. Tossed the kids in the van in their pjs and finally made it on the road by 4:45am…..not too shabby considering usually when I say 4am it would be like 5 or even 6 by the time my family cooperates with actually leaving.
On the way down, there was practically no traffic. We managed to be making great time despite the constant bathroom stops….if you have children you understand this without explanation. We were even an hour ahead of schedule from what I had estimated. Then my mother calls and tells me we are heading over towards a rest stop by Carbondale instead. Ugh. I had to take the dreaded interstate to get there. At first, the interstate doesn’t seem too bad, but we need gas by this time and had to pull off. Shortly after pulling back onto the interstate…BAM!! Instant traffic jam! We spend about an hour stuck in this and decide to get off the interstate and take one of the highways running alongside instead. Perfect! Very little traffic, and there are so many ideal spots to stop and watch the eclipse if we happen to run into difficulty. Getting back on the interstate, and it’s only 15 minutes to the rest stop, but my infant son decides to cry the whole rest of the way. Yay! Let’s just say, the excitement at getting out of the car was not only about the eclipse.
The next couple hours we spent chasing the children and trying to keep them from staring at the sun during the eclipse with occasional moments we got to check for ourselves. Finally the moment of totality was near. I’m going to tell you, it was pretty amazing! Everything took on a sort of greenish cast and seemed rather other worldly, almost unreal, like you were in a dream. When the moon finally covered the sun completely, it was as if the 2 had become entirely different objects. No longer a sun and a moon but something altogether new in it’s union. The darkness brought hoots and hollers from people nearby, and my family was just in awe. I heard no other sounds. Just silence and our voices seemed to be spoken into a void. Such a strange effect. It was a moment I wished could last longer. 2 minutes and 40 seconds just goes by so quickly, and it is a moment that makes you ponder life in a completely different way. Words really cannot express the feeling. Pictures and videos are nothing like seeing a total eclipse in person. As it passed and the 2 celestial spheres went along their lonely ways, you could see a white flash that just had an air of magic about it.
After gathering our things, we headed out on the road as quickly as we could, but really, the ensuing jumble of cars was near impossible to avoid. With only a few major roads to follow and backroads that dead end and lead back to the jammed up roads, there just wasn’t anywhere else for all of the traffic to go. Some points we were at a standstill and others we could jog around quickly on a backroad to get around the jams for a bit, but inevitably at each town entrance there was always cars backed up for miles due to being funneled into areas where lights and signs slow traffic down. Bathrooms had lines through the stores, small town cashiers were overwhelmed trying to keep up with the non-stop flow of customers. Altogether it took us over 10 hours to get home, about 4 hours longer than I had estimated the traffic would cause us to take.
Even with the massive traffic jams and several annoyances of the day, I would do it all again. Why? Because a moment like viewing a total eclipse is an experience that a person should not miss. Not everyone has the opportunity to see one, and it is truly beautiful and unable to be properly described in words. I really can’t lie. I’m already planning for the one in 2024 because I want my younger sons to be able to see it and remember what a total eclipse is like. I am super excited that I will get the opportunity to see it again in only 7 short years! I want to go right back to the same place because the 2 paths cross right near where we were within only a few miles it appears. I want to be able to stand in that same spot and reminisce about this eclipse and how little my babies all were and the crazy, dramatic day that we all had.
And for the fellas, let me tell you, if you’re not married by the next eclipse and you meet the woman of your dreams that you want to marry, an eclipse would be the PERFECT time to propose. It’s that kind of moment. So just keep that in mind. Or, ya know, you could travel to the Pacific Ocean or South America for the one coming up in 2019.