We drove up to southeast Idaho this weekend to experience the total solar eclipse. It was part family vacation, part goodbye-to-summer trip (school started yesterday!), and part hoping we could experience a once-in-a-lifetime event together as a family. (It’s also something I’ve been planning since January.) I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. There was minimal fighting and arguing, I got to know some of Marathon Girl’s extended family better, and there was nothing but clear, blue skies the morning of the big day.
And then there was the eclipse itself: Sitting on lawn chairs watching as the shape of the sun shrink from a round, yellow ball to a thin, yellow bear claw, realizing you could no longer feel the heat of the sun on your skin, and watching shadow bands wigging across the cement. It was exciting and unreal all at the same time.
Then there was totality.
Totality. The most magnificent celestial event that I’ve ever witnessed. The photos I’ve seen on social media and as part of news stories are incredible, but even the best of them don’t do it justice. It’s something that you have to experience in person to really understand how astounding and amazing it really is.
In Rigby, Idaho we experienced two minutes and fourteen seconds of totality. It was the fastest one hundred and thirty-four seconds of my life and not anywhere near enough time to take it all in. Just a couple of things I noticed during totality included:
- The sudden blanket of darkness
- The 360-degree sunrise feeling along the horizon
- Streetlights popping on
- Planets and bright stars appearing in the sky
- Kids and adults screaming their heads off in excitement
- An abrupt drop in temperature
- Seeing everything and everyone coated in a silver-blue light
- A giant black orb in the sky surrounded by giant strands of arcing white light that looked like fine, white hairs.
It was like standing on an alien world.
I wanted it to last forever.
And just like that, it was over. The sun peeked out from behind the moon, light flooded the world, and life returned to normal.
But what made the event really unforgettable wasn’t just seeing a total eclipse with my own eyes—it was experiencing it with Marathon Girl and our kids. It was seeing them jump up and down with excitement, hearing their cheers as everything went dark, and listen to them talk about how cool it was to see on the (long!) drive home.
I’m happy I got to experience it but even more delighted it wasn’t something I did alone. Events like this are made sweeter when you experience them with family, friends, and others you love. It those kind of memories that will be talked about and passed down decades after the event. It’s those kind of memories that last forever.
There will be another solar eclipse in the United States in 2024. My advice is to do everything you can to see it. (If you live outside the U.S., find the next near you here.) But when you go see it, bring along at least one person you love. Things like total solar eclipses are best experienced with someone at your side.