Tuesday, August 22, 2017

DeSoto to DeSolar

Back in late 2015 I started working my way through a collection of "the greatest" essays written by Americans and was fascinated by Annie Dillard's account of her experience witnessing the solar eclipse of 1979 that passed through the Pacific Northwest. A cursory online search told me the next eclipse in the US would take place in August of 2017. Jason was skeptical at first about the magnitude of the event (which surprised me, because he and I share a great love for all things nerdy like this) but once he read more about it and we discovered the "path of totality" would be in easy striking distance for us, we both agreed on taking the kids and making it into a family trip of a lifetime.

We marked the date in red on the calendar but did no further planning, figuring we'd probably end up in Carbondale due to proximity and the size of the festival planned around the event, but I was also leaning towards trying to stay near St. Louis because of my own family ties there. Our procrastination on deciding where, exactly, along the path to go paid off; Carbondale hotels were mostly booked by late spring and we seemed destined to end up in Missouri. When my grandma died this summer, it felt even more meaningful to travel back to her home state to witness a once-in-a-lifetime event, and we chose DeSoto, a town very near the center line of the eclipse's path with around 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, but also the location of my dad's first home and a community where my grandfather served as a minister, as the perfect destination.

We pulled in to DeSoto around 7:15 on the morning of the eclipse, wearing our homemade shirts (of course), and eager to find the perfect parking spot near the library and downtown so we would have easy access to all of the events the sleepy little town of around 6000 had to offer. We were joined by visitors from across the country - California to Florida to Maryland - and even from as far away as India, Spain, China, and South Africa. From  pinhole projectors and glow-in-the-dark bracelet stations at the library to giant cups of shaved ice while standing under a small misting tent to our warm handshake and welcome from the friendly local gun shop and travel agency owner, DeSoto was filled with the perfect ways to celebrate the solar eclipse. We couldn't have picked a better spot.

Even my "good" camera is amateurish, so I won't bore you with the poor photos I took of the eclipse itself. Instead, here are the moments I captured throughout the day of our family's adventures. We're already planning for 2024.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

bucket list

Kid at the playground today: Are you a photographer or something?
Me, while snapping my 67th photo: I'm trying to learn how to be one.
Kid: Oh. Well, I know all about how to take pictures. I'm in third grade.

Sometimes 36 feels very ancient, you guys.

The first official day of summer vacation was...good? I've been looking forward to it for so long that it was inevitably a letdown, but also practically perfect in every way, as Mary Poppins might say. We finalized our summer bucket list last weekend and today decided to go for "try a park you've never been to." We almost never visit the playgrounds attached to schools in town, but we spent a happy hour pretty much all by ourselves today enjoying the perfect combination of shady and sunny, plus new to us while still old school (but not overly rundown). Monkey bars are a current fave, and this place has every combination of climbing jungle gym challenges you can dream up.

Fall was my favorite season for years, but I'm breaking up with it for the sheer romance of long, lazy summer days. Winter in our town can be such a desolate time. We chose to live here - another post on that topic has been brewing for a while - so I hate to complain, but there's so little to do. It's hard to not overdo it once summer rolls around. Some of our bucket list will mean buying tickets or paying admission fees or even a hotel stay here and there, but mostly we're sticking to the joys of cheap and free where we can get it, and if this afternoon is any indication, it doesn't take much to make for a summer filled with amazing memories. We're trying to pace ourselves here at the start of the race, but can you blame us for sprinting out of sheer exhiliration?

I'm (over)sharing our adventures on Instagram under the hashtag #HannaMcSummer - and I'm sure there will be plenty more posts here, too. Thanks for tagging along.