Ezzy's US Eclipse: path of totality

BBC Sky at Night Magazine news editor Elizabeth Pearson is on the road trip of lifetime, making her way across the US to view the total solar eclipse.

On her third day on the road, Ezzy makes her way into the path of totality for the first time, and the anticipation is palpable.

Keep up to date with Ezzy's US eclipse exploits via her personal Twitter account and BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Twitter account.

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Ezzy sets off for day three of her US eclipse road trip.
Credit: Elizabeth Pearson

 

Ezzy's US eclipse: Day 3

Today's drive took me from Rock Springs up to Casper, a large city in the centre of Wyoming. The drive was just as scenic as the last one, but this time I was increasingly aware that I was entering Eclipse Country.

Whereas my previous stops had skirted the path of totality, Casper will be right in the centre of the eclipse path.

Yesterday as I was driving down the highway, I kept seeing signs prohibiting oversized lorries from using the roads between 20-22 August.

It was only when I was stuck behind one, moving at around 10 miles an hour, that I realised why. 

Before, during and after the eclipse, millions of Americans will be passing through the 30km corridor of totality, as well as the surrounding regions.

Casper Mountain will be right in the path of totality.
Credit: Elizabeth Pearson

 

The Interstate-80 highway happens to run along the path of totality for some 400 miles, and it's expected many people will use it to try and find the best spot to get to the eclipse come 21 August. 

Yet despite being a major interstate highway, the I-80 is only two lanes wide, and not very wide at that (well, not by American standards anyway).

The traffic on the day will be horrific enough without having to worry about a massive lorry slowing things down! It makes me glad that my schedule means I will be in my viewing location of North Platt, Nebraska well ahead of time. 

When I got to Casper, I decided to go for a hike to really stretch my legs after the long drive and headed for Casper Mountain Park (left), which had multiple signs informing late-coming campers that the entire park was fully booked.

It isn't alone. Pretty much every camp site in the eclipse path has been booked up for months, with some of the choicer camping spots selling out in minutes of becoming available.

Fortunately for me (who might have left her trip a little to the last minute) there are plenty of hotel spots still left.

Casper seems like it's prepared for the oncoming flood of visitors. Every bar and restaurant has a sign displaying its maximum capacity, as well as what to do if the situation on the day gets out of hand.

Misty coronas adorn posters everywhere; welcoming visitors, but also offering up special eclipse deals or parking for the day. It certainly seems the locals are keen to welcome the incoming influx of people, and perhaps make a buck or two at the same time.

Many locals are offering up their driveways and front lawns to visitors to park on. For a small fee of course!
Credit: Elizabeth Pearson

 

I can tell that people are beginning to arrive at their eclipse destination.

Everywhere I go, I can hear people talking about the eclipse: while stopping to get fuel, at dinner, at the hotel. Even while I was out hiking I overheard a pair of distant walkers discussing their plans for 'E-day'.

But while there is a frisson of excitement, there was one sentiment that I heard over and over again: "are my glasses safe?"

It seems that word of disreputable glasses is spreading. While it is undoubtedly a good thing that people know to be wary - noone wants their eyesight damaged after all - there are rumours of schools cancelling eclipse events and worries that people will just decide to ignore the eclipse and not look up.

One of the things that makes this eclipse so special is that it will be an experience shared between millions of people, and it would make me sad if a whole swathe of people missed out on that, all because of a bad batch of glasses.


Elizabeth Pearson is travelling with Hertz Roadtrippers.

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