Or…5 very long days.
How do you pack for a trip like this? Our checklist included things like:
– Eclipse glasses (legitimate ones purchased several years ago)
– Hiking shoes
– Floppy sun hats
– Sun screen
– Rain coats (fortunately, not needed)
– White background to capture shadow bands (more about this later)
– Camp stools
– Hand sanitizer
– Wet wipes
What we forgot and had to purchase on the road:
– Cooler (duh!)
– GoGirl (It levels the playing field for women when they’re out in a field, or on a trail, or in a tent. I could also say it gives them equal standing with men.)
Saturday, August 19, 2017
We took the Prius on this road trip because we were concerned about spending too much time charging the Tesla on the way. It would have required 2-3 stops just for that, each about 45 minutes, and we were in a hurry. This turned out to be a good decision.
We left home very early today, headed to Rapid City, SD. It’s a long haul across South Dakota, especially in the summer. By mid-afternoon, the temperature was registering 100 degrees. On the upside, the speed limit was 80 on I90, and I definitely took advantage of that, since we had to cover 575 miles today. In states with lower speed limits, many drivers go 80 anyway, thinking there is some leeway. Here, they all stay at 80 or under, so I think it must be strictly enforced.
There was plenty of sun, not only in the sky, but also in the thousands of fields of sunflowers. It turns out that South Dakota is one of the top producers of sunflowers, 1.6 billion pounds last year. It’s a cheery sight, truly beautiful. There are two types of sunflower grown here – oil-type and confection. Oil-type have smaller seeds that are used for bird seed and oil, confection are larger and are used for consumption – the ones we buy for snacks. The flowers follow the sun throughout the day, and reorient themselves at night. I wonder what will happen during eclipse totality.
At one of our rest stops, Chamberlain, SD, there was a beautiful stature of a Native American woman. The 50′ statue, named “Dignity”, was designed by South Dakota artist Dale Claude Lamphere, and paid for with a $1 million donation by Norm and Eunabel McKie. It was installed in 2016.
Sunday, August 20
We didn’t take the time to visit any of Rapid City’s attractions, as we are planning to do a road trip in the near future when we’ll have more time to be tourists. However, we did stop at Wind Cave National Park to see if we want to spend more time there in the future. There are several tours offered each day, but we would have had to wait at least two hours to get on one. We did take advantage of the opportunity to purchase the Senior Pass for Mark. (I got mine 5 years ago, but I left it at home.) The cost of the pass is going from $10 to $80 after the end of this month – definitely a good investment. We’ll be back.
Our next stop was Lusk, WY, to see the Tesla Supercharger there. When we stopped, there were three Tesla owners charging their vehicles, and we visited with them for a while, then walked a few blocks to a Stagecoach Museum. On the way, we saw several residents with kiosks in their front yards, selling homemade rugs, food, and other handiworks. The local bank had a sign saying that it would be closed on Monday for the eclipse. Another sign said they didn’t have an ATM machine – small town, for sure.
The Stagecoach Museum was interesting. I think they probably had more visitors this weekend than they do for the rest of the summer. According to the website, admission is $2. However, like everything else in the area, the price was inflated for this weekend, in this case to $5, not enough to break the bank. We got our money’s worth. Besides stagecoaches, there were dishes, clothing, farm equipment as well as a one-room schoolhouse and frontier store.
Our next stop was in Glendo, WY, the area we identified a year ago as being the best location for viewing the eclipse. We weren’t the only ones to make that decision. Several land owners in the area were selling parking spaces for the day. We saw many, many RVs, campers and tents set up all around the area. The normal population of Glendo is 280, with two bars, a church and maybe 50 houses. We stopped at one spot that was selling parking for $40. I was ready to buy, but Mark wanted to check out other options first – wise decision.
Glendo has a beautiful state park which seemed like a possible option. We headed to one of the entrances and purchased a day pass for $6. We also were advised to go to the other entrance tomorrow because that was where everything would be happening. Not willing to take someone else’s word for it, we drove to the other entrance where another volunteer told us we wanted to go in through the first entrance. He also recommended some good spots in the park. We decided to investigate for ourselves, and took a drive through the park.
Glendo State Park is quite large, comprising almost 3,500 acres of land, over 18,000 acres of water, and 45 miles of trails. An earthen dam, constructed in the 1950’s, created the large reservoir in the park, popular for boaters and fishermen/women. We drove in about 13 miles to the far end of the park, and found where we wanted to be, very close to the midpoint of totality. It was also close to toilet facilities, a must as far as I was concerned.
We spent a little time in downtown Glendo, about three blocks long. We saw an Eclipse ATM on the street that we thought was just named that because of the coming event. No, there is actually a company called Eclipse ATM. While enjoying a cold beverage at one of the two bars in town, we noticed a cute “steer” built out of PVC – pretty clever.
From there, we drove to Cheyenne, the closest lodging we could find even a year ago, 100 miles away. We set our alarm for 2am the next day, so we could beat the traffic.