Total Eclipse- Orin Junction Rest Stop

Aug 24th 2017

50 Minutes outside Casper, WY

This month has been tolling. Every week was a little more heavy and a little more depressing. A peer from high school passed away, Charlottesville showed the continuation of depravity in the United States, there seemed to be small nagging things every day. 

As we grow old there aren't that many new experiences, things become lukewarm, life becomes cyclical, we become worn in the chase. The Eclipse forced society to stop and take a breath- even if it was only a 2 minute and twenty something second breath.

"There was some profound beauty in the act of this great migration."

It's almost as if the United States could look past some of the shit and come together. There was some profound beauty in the act of this great migration. Millions of people left their place of residency driving, flying, merging onto this seventy mile wide path cutting through our country to look up at the sun dancing with the moon.

This is all hindsight. I left with no context for the event. It was a natural phenomenon we've all seen in cartoons and probably saw photographs of in our science textbooks. A thing that happens very infrequently that sits in the spectrum of fact and logic. We all knew it would be cool, but to what extent?

I drove out to Wyoming from Colorado, the news stations warned of its predicted popularity. "Wyoming is expected to double in population," "...Eclipse of the Century." Leaving a day early to beat the rush, I stumbled through the various towns that sat in the path. Stopping for a little bit here and there to see what other patrons were doing. My first stop was a rest stop on the way to Guernsey. It was just before five pm and the rest stop was already filling up. A food truck parked, hoping to make a little off the increased population. The family operating the truck mentioned that hotels in Casper were starting to be booked out and the remaining rooms were going for upwards of 1500 dollars a night. I was slowly getting a taste of what the next day would look like.

I drove through Glendo, WY, a popular destination to watch the eclipse. The town had transformed into a state fair. All the business owners and residents were putting up tents selling memorabilia, food, raw honey, solar glasses, everything in between. The state park was starting to fill up and I was told if anyone would want to obtain a spot the next day, they should be looking to arrive before 5am unless they were okay with waiting for hours. Their gates wouldn't be opening until 7am. I finally made my way to a rest stop just outside Douglas, WY. It seemed to fit a nice combination of an excited, crowded and a beautiful, yet inexpensive (free), location to watch.

The rest stop was amidst its metamorphosis. It was becoming a summer camp. I arrived there when all the legal spots were filled up. A few others had started parking along the curbs and I was the last one in a somewhat legit spot. Everyone after me was driving over curbs and into the grass and dirt. I immediately dashed to the clearing to watch the light change. A few people were setting up their telescopes for the next day. "Where did you guys come from?" We all knew people had traveled to an extent, so that was the in to easy conversation. You could hear a murmur through the whole camp. Everyone was open to being friends, if not just for a night and day. The understanding that the moment was fleeting put people in a transparent mode, words flowing as if we already had a couple of drinks.

Within an hour of being at the rest stop I had met five people. This couple from Belgium happened to be visiting their daughter in the states and decided to take a rental camper van out to see the Eclipse.

Casper Newspaper headlining the effects of the solar eclipse


The police came knocking on the windows of vehicles at 2am asking people to move in order to prevent others from being blocked. Within a few hours, they stopped enforcing the rule because of the sheer volume of patrons.

"The rest stop was amidst its metamorphosis. It was becoming a summer camp."

On the day of, everyone seemed to wake up early. It was unclear if it was from excitement towards the scheduled event or if it was because sleeping in cars was so uncomfortable. Either way, the rest stop was bustling. The various ridges and open spaces were starting to become gathering places.

Welding masks and welding glass were a common solution for those without solar eclipse glasses.

This is Esther who is 83. Her son John planned the trip and they drove from Dallas TX to catch the eclipse.

Hot air balloons could be seen on the horizon

One of the individuals I met said these words about the eclipse.

Luis-

"It seemed as if a higher power had orchestrated every event.  The temperature slowly cooled, and eventually so was the light visibly dimming so that the approach of the shadow was unmistakable.  Then as if on queue, crickets started chirping, and then came the strange faint lines of light and shadow dancing on the white towel.  That's when we saw THE shadow approach and then the eclipse in all its glory.  For the first time ever, I was able to see the sun, moon, and stars--and a couple of planets to boot--all sharing the darkened sky and surrounded by the glow of sunset everywhere in the horizon.  I couldn't help but shout at this magnificent spectacle, and felt chills running down my spine at the strangeness of it. But throughout it all I felt exhilarated.  Then, as quickly as it came, the shadow departed, the sun sent forth a brilliant pinpoint of light, the snake shadows danced for the last time, and it was over.  However, this experience will stay with me until the day I die!"

I would like to end this article with the words of one of the last people I met.

Katie- 

"The sun is such an important part of how I spend my time. She determines when I wake up, when it's too hot to want to run, and when it's time to celebrate another trip around the solar system. It is the center of earth's orbit, my life and the lives of all the humans that came before me. We cannot help but be sun worshippers in one way or another. Getting to see the sun in a new way, with its halo of a corona, felt like a friend was letting me in on an intimate and sacred secret. The fierce, unseeable brightness I had experienced my whole life was at last distilled into a sliver small enough I could behold it in one piece. I remain filled with awe. See you in 2024!"


Documentary Video Below.

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