Eclipse 2024

April 8, 2024

1:00am: Let’s get on the road.

Can the Pennsylvania Turnpike make up its mind whether the speed limit is 55 or 70? It changes like every mile.

4:00am: Fine, get yourself a snack. Top off gas, too.

Hmmm, there’s the exit to the road I was going to take originally. But had to change plans yesterday. Looking too cloudy there. New destination has a better chance, if still not a great one.

Crossing into Ohio.

And it’s raining.

That’s okay. It was supposed to rain this early anyway. We’ve got a lot of hours to go.

Heading north now. Past Youngstown… and officially in the path!

7:00am: Light out, still raining on and off, nearing destination.

Hmmm, clear traffic the whole way. Pleasant surprise. There was every indication traffic would be a nightmare. Maybe we’re just way early.

8:30am: Here’s a nice park by Lake Erie. Some other people in town checking it out as well. Hard to see the water from the fog from the rain, which seems to be clearing up.

9:30am: Better get some food now while we can. This little restaurant is filling up quickly with others in town for this.

After food, driving around town. Lots of neat houses right along lakeshore. There’s another cool park by the lake, with people filing in to enjoy the view. And the one later.

11:30am: Here’s the park by the lake we were in earlier. There’s more people and the bathrooms are open now. Plus my passengers want to make a stop anyway. Found a spot in the boat ramp lot.

What a lovely view of the lake, the sound of the waves lapping against the rocks. A bit of area to walk around. Watching the people show up and set themselves up here. Lots of snacks and a bathroom nearby.

Yup, I think this is our spot.

But what will we see? There’s so many clouds up there still.

Except… what’s that to the west southwest? Is that… clear skies?!

The clouds are moving from that direction. The big ones are passing, leaving fewer of them and just some high up wispy ones…

Holy shitburgers, I think we’re actually going to see it!!!

The clouds cleared more, allowing some more sunshine and warming the air a bit.

2:02pm: At last, it starts.

Can see some high up wispy clouds moving across the sun through the glasses, but they don’t block anything.

And on the lower right corner, the moon has begun to bite off a chunk.

Steadily, all around us, the light dimmed.

The sky turned a deeper blue.

The sun was a crescent. Then a fingernail. Then a sliver.

About as far as it would have gone had we stayed home (if no clouds this time).

3:10pm: Minutes away. Sky is darkening faster. Nearby lampposts and outside lights on a building by the water have clicked on.

3:15pm: Seconds away. Counting down. The last rays of sunlight disappearing as if a crack in the sky is being zipped closed…


That’s not my picture. That’s NASA’s view of it from Cleveland, just a little west of where we were. But that’s about what appeared up there in the sky the moment the last ray of sunshine vanished.

This one is my picture.

My phone camera couldn’t focus on it too well, so it shows a whitish glob where in person at that spot was NASA’s above image.

In my picture, you can see the lit lamppost, as well as, oddly enough, that the sky on the horizon kind of looks like a sunrise or sunset. But… that’s not right. The sun isn’t over there. It’s up there behind the moon! Most of the sky was a deep dark blue, the part under the shadow, which in person was much darker than it appears here. On the horizon was where there was still sunshine. So it was like a sunrise or sunset… only upside down!

When totality began, people around us cheered. Some honked their car horns. Some howled for some reason. Sounded like someone shot off some fireworks nearby.

Up there, the white sunlight radiated out from behind the black moon, the very edges of it shimmering, as if the sun was itching to come back out and blind us all. Solar activity that is usually hidden to us, perhaps.

It went on for many glorious soul-touching minutes, until the bottom right corner got brighter. Glasses back on now! And the sunshine was back.

An industrial ship docked nearby in the lake blew its horn.

People around us packed up to leave and departed. We hung around to let the crowd clear. I stayed by the lake and watched the reverse partial eclipse pass. The air had chilled back down.

4:30pm: And that’s that.

Time to head all the way back home!

Our spot by the lake didn’t get the best reception, so we drove away somewhere else so I could see the traffic situation better on Google Maps.

Hmm, yeah, every road we could take back was backed up, though we’d be driving a while before we got to a backup. My fellow travelers were itching to get back on the road, so to shut them up, we started on southward, even though I thought it might have been a good idea to get some food first.

Sure enough, we hit a traffic backup. I went a slightly different way back this time to avoid some of the toll road as well as to go a way that looked clearer. That was fine for a while until we hit another very slow road. The exits off that road to areas with restaurants were also backed up, and those restaurants surely packed.

Eventually, we were back on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which was moving a little quicker. Rest stops were completely packed with people. It got dark, and my lack of sleep was finally taking its toll, so I let the other person drive who had gotten some rest earlier.

Almost home and back into Maryland, without any food since every place was too full or already closing for the night, and more backups. This time construction and lane closures on I-70. Got past one slow area and into another one before long. Even once back on 270 we hit a few!

Home at last at 3am. Concluding a totally wild day trip to a midwestern state on a Great Lake, eight days shy of eight years since the last one. And perhaps longer than that until the next solar eclipse in this country, or whichever next one I’ll be able to see, whatever the world will be like then.