An estimated 80,000 people were headed to Weiser, Idaho, the small town located 45 minutes from our desired camp site for viewing the solar eclipse on August, 21 2017. We decided it would be best to get a head start on our trip to ensure the best spot for viewing the spectacle in totality. When we arrived, the sleepy town was welcoming with clean streets lined with mom and pop shops like a used bookstore, thrift shop, and family owned furniture store.
We made our way slowly up the dusty, gravel road that lead from town to Steck Park. While the journey was painstakingly slow, Doris bucking and bumping along every turn, it offered a stunning view of Snake River and Oregon in the distance. A train trudged passed blowing it’s horn in proudly as it made its way over the bridge and yellow wildflowers hugged the road with faces turned towards the sky.
When we finally arrived we were greeted by an empty park except for the host and thousands of giant, black Mormon crickets hopping around the camp sites. We selected a spot and called this park home for 10 days leading up to the big event in relative solitary. It wasn’t until a day or two before August 21st did we start to see campers arrive–some with just their cars and others fully equipped with telescopes and camera equipment.
On the morning of August 21st, we climbed atop Doris with our eclipse glasses, a bag of snacks, binoculars, and a tapestry to sit on. From around 10:10 AM MT until 11:20 AM MT the sun slowly was overtaken by the moon. A sliver at a time, bit by bit, the dark sphere seemed to magically replace the warmth and light that the sun was providing.
As we approached full totality, the light around us grew dark in a form of a somewhat sunset. The sky turned a dark blue and the mountains faded to a dusty hue one would equate to twilight. You could see the river’s shine start to wane as the lightness evaporated, quicker and quicker. The temperature began to drop from the sweltering 90+ degrees fahrenheit to dipping below 70. As we stood in absolute awe our bodies had an almost physical reaction to this upside down effect of reality. While our minds were completely aware of the phenomenon our eyes were telling our brains, it was almost as if our physical being disagreed with the shift in the solar system.
Within what seemed to be a blink of an eye we were in totality. Day had turned to night and we were caught in a frozen glimpse of time, where the Earth seemed to spin in reverse. You could hear fellow campers cheering with glee, a bellow of excitement swelling amongst us. The stars began to shine against the navy blanket of sky alongside a bright white light engulfing a black sphere in the sky, the eclipse in full totality. With the help of our binoculars, we could see red sparks emit from all around the shadow of the moon and the ground below us appeared to be a sea of clouds slithering like snakes against the gravel. These few fleeting minutes were overwhelming in emotion, mind, body, and belief. We had never felt so small, yet so full of life as we did in this moment.
Just as quickly as it came it went and the moon began to pass away from the center of the sun. We quickly began to feel the warmth from the sun build as it returned to it’s rightful place in the sky. As we layed there watching the moon’s descent, we felt unequivocally changed.