The Great Eclipse Adventure of 2017

Since my only experience with a solar eclipse was a partial one in 6th grade when I couldn’t get my cardboard eclipse viewer to work and never actually saw anything, I will admit that I wasn’t very excited about the this week’s big eclipse.

But when my sister asked if we would like to adventure with them to see it, I said, “Sure – why not!” I wasn’t expected to actually see anything, but a road trip with her is always fun!

We had a vague plan in place. Meet at my house. Bring food. Drive south to a spot in totality. Perfect.

But Eclipse Day dawned overcast and rainy. We consulted long and hard over several maps and weather forecasts before deciding to head toward Fall City, Nebraska which was in the epicenter of totality.

(Which is a word I have never used in my life until now – but one I used frequently that day – and have already used twice in this post!)

It remained overcast and we drove in and out of rain during our two hour drive. But the kids played “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and every other song from their playlists with “sun” in them to keep our spirits up.

We may have gotten lost temporarily – but we eventually found the party at Fall City just in time for the eclipse to begin.

And for the clouds to settle in.

When it stated to sprinkle, my brother-in-law pointed to a patch of blue sky in the distance and said, “Let’s find it! We won’t see anything here!”

So we jumped in the van with our free eclipse glasses (thank you Fall City Chamber of Commerce!) and started our afternoon of eclipse chasing.

We would drive around for several minutes until someone spotted the sun, then we would pile out of the van on the side of the road and check out the progress with our free glasses.

When the clouds moved in, we would move on. Piling back in the van and heading off in another direction to repeat the procedure.

We were in the middle of a random gravel road somewhere west of Fall City when the eclipse reached totality.

It was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Beyond anything I could have imagined.

Standing there in darkness and seeing the sun rise all around us.

Our kids were dancing around the gravel in the sheer joy of the moment. Okay – I might have danced a little, too!

A few minutes later it was over and the moon started to move on.

And with it the clouds, leaving us a beautifully sunny afternoon to watch the moon slowly pass by.

Which we did. In awe and amazement.

We were finally able to try out all the viewing methods that hadn’t work well with the cloud cover.

Like the pinhole.

And it worked!

One of the kids observed that after seeing a total eclipse of the sun – anything else we did the rest of the day would be anti-climatic.

It was.

We made a quick stop at Indian Caves State Park and then snacked our way back home – getting stuck in the hundreds of cars all trying to get across the Missouri River.

And of course we got ice cream.

Because no adventure is complete without ice cream!

 

And this is one adventure that we will never forget.

Once in a lifetime.

Absolutely amazing.

 

Of Flea Markets, Hedge Hogs and Kettle Corn

My parents were here last week.

It was an impromptu visit to fit in a little more adventuring in the gorgeous autumn weather.

Which we did – in grand style.

They were here long enough for my dad to work on my list of projects and have time for an epic fishing trip and my mom to play multiple games with the kids.

Then on Saturday we took them to the Rutledge Flea Market.

Sixty acres of treasures just waiting to be discovered!

Everything from junk to antiques, guns to tupperware, pot bellied pigs to hedge hogs.

Yes, hedge hogs.

hedge hog

Of course Buddy fell immediately in love and thought we needed one. Desperately.

At least until he held it and it sneezed – causing him to be poked and drawing blood in three places.

Since we didn’t really need a hundred dollar pin cushion, we left him there.

When everybody had found sufficient treasures, we bought a bag of fresh hot kettle corn and headed home on the scenic route.

Taking in the fall color, enjoying the warm weather, watching the combines at work and then stopping at several Amish stores.

Cheese curd samples, local pecans, fresh peanut butter, free ice cream.

We ate our way home, tired but happy.

An Unexpected Adventure

You just never know when an adventure will strike.

Take yesterday for example.

After church we all piled in our faithful old mini van, cranked the AC and headed down the blacktop for the 25 minute -very rural – ride home.

Things started out pretty normal.  We were just humming down the High and Dry when Jan suddenly noticed that the engine was starting to heat up. He quickly turned the AC off and slowed down.

It didn’t help. That temperature kept rising – fast . He turned the heat on full blast in a last ditch effort to cool things down. He pulled off in the nearest driveway just as the engine died.

Would you believe that we ended up in a cemetery?!

Our car died in the cemetery!

I don’t make this stuff up. Honest. But wait – there’s more!

So there we were in the the Forrest Home Cemetery with steam coming out under the hood.

Now normally – I love to roam around an old cemetery and read the inscriptions – but with the heat index around 101 and oppressive humidity – we headed right for a shady spot among the gravestones.

Grave

There we sat – all six of us – in the Crockett plot by the fence under the oak trees.  I perched myself on a nice flat head stone of one Elvious Crockett while we discussed our options.

Jan immediately started calling friends and neighbors to ask them for a lift – but nobody was home!  Nobody. Not even you Lavern and Carolyn!

We thought about walking home – but decided that hiking over 8 miles in the excessive heat with no water and wearing flip flops was probably not a good idea.

We thought about flagging down a passing car – if there ever was a passing car.

We searched the graveyard for water. But of course there was nothing – not even a pump.

Meanwhile the bees were buzzing, the temperature was rising and Elvious was feeling a little bumpy.

houseFinally, Jan – the hero of this adventure- decided to walk about a half mile up the hill to the nearest farm house and see if he could borrow some water to try to make it home.

Would you believe they weren’t home either?! Were does everybody go on a hot & humid Sunday afternoon in July?

He found a bucket sitting by the well, filled it with water, carried it all the way back to the van in the oppressive heat.

We cheered when the van started up.

We returned the bucket with our fervent thanks to the unknown farmer on the High and Dry who left a bucket by his hydrant that morning, and waved good-bye to our buddy Elvious.

Then we drove home with all the windows down – the heater going full blast and a heat index of 101 degrees.

Home never looked so good.

Air conditioning never felt so good.

Lunch never tasted so good.

I’m telling you people – you just never know when an adventure will strike.