So let’s make sure we are free all day for the eclipse – that is the way the conversation started. I really just wanted to stay put, stay home, 97% is good. My husband said, “97% is not good, 100% is good”.
So the adventure begins. Now to decide where to go to get 100%. We decided to go to Driggs, Idaho which is a favorite place of ours. We have a magical place on the way to Grand Targee. A small little pull off; hay field in the forefront, a farm house in the back ground with the Teton Mountains as a back drop.
We started at 5 am Monday, August 21, 2017. We were given advice to fill up our vehicle with fuel and take along food; as fuel and food could have a limited supply. They was projecting 150,000 converging on this small area in Idaho.
We drove from Big Sky, Montana to Island Park, Tetonia, and then into the Driggs, Idaho area. The closer we got to Grand Targee the more signs we saw for parking and camping. Parking was anywhere from $10-$50 and camping was upwards of $150 per night. We heard of people renting their homes out in the area for $1200 per night. Just before entering Driggs we headed up to Grand Targee and immediately found lots of people.
Driggs, Idaho is magical, for the scenery and landscape. I am a farm and ranch girl from northern Montana and late August is the season for harvesting the crops. As we hit the top of the hill before Driggs and ready to descend into the area, we stop. We stop and breath. There is farm land, crops as far as the eye can see. Patchwork with golden crops, rotational fields awaiting next years crops and alfalfa. For this farm kid, this sight is impressed in my mind as beauty. Now smell the alfalfa being cut and baled and the crops being cut, combines and trucks in the fields.
It took us about 3 hours to get to the Grand Targee area. Fortunate for us, we found our magical spot with ease. 12 of our best friends, that we have never met before also were at this spot. We set up house – cooler, chairs, blankets, and camera gear. Our dog is along for the family event, Bert is her name, short for Bertha, a rescue griffon mix, 8 year old dog that goes and does everything with us. Sun screen is applied and comments made about how hot it is and not bringing umbrellas or some type of shelter. No shelter in the pasture, a couple of trees that provide some shade. Oh, did I mention that I have a skin care business, sun and no sun screen was my life as a farm kid, so repair of my skin is now my challenge, lucky for me I found a great company. My husband is a photographer, this adds a whole new dimension to traveling. Now you get the picture of a van filled with camera gear – couple of camera bodies, lenses, camera bags and tripods.
Setting up and comparing camera gear with those we now are calling family is the beginning of our experience. Sharing beverages and food. Everyone is watching the time and when 10:30 am arrives, the anticipation has built to an epic level. Some people have seen a eclipse before and are giving educational tips and what to expect. I do remember going through an eclipse as a child and seeing the eclipse through a shoe box we built in school. People are sharing where they are from in the US, and what brought them to the area. One of those we befriended is a singer song writer from Utah, Mary Kaye, a western music artist. They were on their way home from Lewistown, Montana, swinging 6 hours out of their way to see Mother Nature put on a show.
The movement of the moon begins. For awhile before the eclipse we were questioning; where is the moon. With the moon moving ever so slowly across the sun, NASA eclipse glasses on, we watch with wonder as the moon begins to move over the sun. When the moon gets 3/4 of the way over the sun – now things are getting interesting. A quiet comes over and becomes so quiet it is very noticeable. The birds begin to move and chirp more. Then a rooster begins to crow as more and more light is covered. Now it is getting cool, not wait it is not cool, it is cold and the temperature has dropped about 25 degrees. When the eclipse is 100% there is a sunrise 360 degrees that lights up the entire horizon with the sky a pitch black. Putting on the eclipse glasses there is nothing, completely black. I was caught off guard with the emotion and tears that begin to run down peoples faces, cheering all around us, the mountains are reverberating with cheers for Mother Nature. The hillside and mountain area is filled with people. Some people are trying to photograph, others are standing still and others are trying to video the whole experience. As the moon moves, shadows and light changes are taking place. Warmth is returning and brightness comes back so quickly. More and
more sun is coming out, now it is hot again. Once the eclipse is over and we know more and more sun is coming out, we disband, leaving our new found friends, pack up and start our trek home.
Packed up and ready to leave, the traffic is noticeably heavy. As we leave the Driggs, Idaho area and enter Island Park, traffic comes to a complete stop. Zero miles an hour, completely stopped and vehicles are in the road for as far as you can see. Instead of sitting in the road, we pull off and empty our bladders behind a tree that has obviously been used by others. We set up our tent and get out the chairs, food and beverages and have a picnic along the side the road. Cars pull off, other people use the tree and get back in traffic. People are running along side to get some exercise and get out of their vehicles to stretch. A car from California pulls up and 3 young men get out and come over to visit, we share beverages and talk about the fact they are trying to get back home, Los Angeles, California. We make introductions and find out that one of the young men is an artist in Los Angeles and we talk for some time about the eclipse experience. Finding words is
difficult. Ultimately it is like trying to tell someone what salt tastes like. You cannot explain the taste of salt, it has to be personally experienced and that is the same with an eclipse, there are not words, you need to experience it personally.
After about an hour we got back in traffic and then it become apparent that there were personnel in the road directing traffic, which was coming from all directions and there could be 150, 000 in the area.
We did make it home and have a had an incredible eclipse experience and am so glad we went to 100% eclipse. Thanks to my husband, Paul Bussi, who has adventure in his bones.