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.

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