I used to take some pride in the fact I was somewhat well informed. I don’t know a lot about a lot but, I know a little about a lot. That was part of the job of working the media—you need to know a bit of what is going on in the world that is of interest to the general public.
However, I missed a big one earlier this month and to my detriment.
Epic fail. I forgot about the solar eclipse.
Full admission — I was on vacation and not paying attention. I had no idea anyone cared. I didn’t know preparations had been underway for a year all planning to converge on the United States travelling to make it to the point to travel to wherever the Moon’s shadow is going to touch the Earth and position themselves in a spot carefully chosen to ensure they see the light. The Americans had the day off. There were t-shirts of this event. (I would have bought one had I not been so fed up at the time)
I had unfortunately carefully positioned myself to be on this same epic route to get home from vacation.
Without the world of a lie, we travelled 200 km in five hours through Illinois. Illinois is the longest, flattest state in the universe. Maybe that’s not what the textbooks say but it is what I will always say. We travelled hour by and side by side the same fellow travellers. We started out beside a transport driver who travelled with his cute golden retriever puppy. By the time we both exited the highway, the puppy had aged so much he was now greying around the nose and eyes and eating seniors dog food. We kept passing this jeep with three young guys in it who took great joy in waving at us and smiling. We wanted to think it was because we were so youthful and fun, but it is more likely they were as bored as we were and needing a tiny spark of life to keep moving forward. We were praying for a special lane for those of us who promised not to pay a bit of attention to the event. This would be called the “we don’t give a rat’s ass” lane. I would have signed a petition never to look the skies ever again if we could have gotten off this freeway.
Here’s the thing about a massive traffic jam—everyone gets off at the same exits whereby jamming up the restaurants, gas stations and bathrooms. By the time we made it to an open truck stop, they were opening up mens’ washrooms and trucker showers for motorists to use. The overworked, overly stressed servers at the Flying J in Carbondale Illinois likely quit that night never to return.
At the next four stops—no room at the Inn. Eclipse watchers scored all the rooms. When we finally found one at 3 a.m. the nice man gave us a break on the price because we were only staying for a couple hours before getting back on the road. (Shoot me now!)
So, did we see the eclipse you ask? I guess. The sky got all dark and spooky and by the time I got my shoes on and jumped out of the car to take a picture—in the space of two minutes it was over. That was it??? Are you kidding me? It was like a bad honeymoon – all that hype and anticipation and then a giant fizzle.
What should have been a 17-hour drive became double that. Granted, I am cranky and still exhausted, but I do not want to see a sunny side up egg (looks like a sun) and nobody better play the song Total Eclipse of the Heart for a good six months.
I hear there’s another one in 2024. Book your rooms now. I hope to sleep through it.