24 October 2023


We'd been planning to go somewhere near the Four Corners area for this year's annular solar eclipse since The Great American Eclipse back in 2017.

Back in April, I got to watch the Australian solar eclipse live as it happened. Via YouTube, of course. I’d set the television up for Lizard to watch (without sound), and he’d fallen asleep. I didn’t know the exact time of totality, and I wasn’t watching the clock anyway. I’d just finished up a big project for work, and I was ready to work on my crochet temperature project. I could have rewound the video to watch the eclipse after it finished. But God guided me into the living room the moment totality was happening. It was so cool to watch as it happened! Every bit as exciting as it was when we watched the moon block the sun live in person at the Colorado/Wyoming border back in 2017.

I'm so thankful for modern technology. I'm so thankful to work from home, which forced me to upgrade our internet, which allowed me to watch an eclipse on the other side of the world as it happened. I'm so thankful for my Heavenly Father’s timing. I actually was even thankful for the silenced television and the nighttime silence of our house because it reminded me of how all the insects stopped buzzing and the birds stopped singing when we watched the 2017 eclipse as it happened. What joyous memories!

My hunger to get as close to the October 2023 Ring of Fire fueled securing time off from work. I made sure I still had my eclipse glasses and eclipse filter for my good camera, the Big Gun. I spent most of the summer dreaming of how wonderful our trip would be.

On September 29, I spent the evening trying to map out where we could go to shoot the eclipse. Back in 2017, we thought perhaps we could get good shots from The Wave or White Pocket if we couldn't get Wave permits. Maybe just somewhere in Vermillion Cliffs.

When NASA released the 2023-24 eclipse paths map, I realized the perfect Ring of Fire would not be visible from that far west. We also had learned there would be an air show in Grand Junction (featuring the Blue Angels!!!) that very same weekend. Lizard LOVES the Blue Angels, and both of us were suffering withdrawals because it had been so long since we'd been able to attend an air show.

While trying to come up with an alternate eclipse-viewing location, I suddenly began to remember the less pleasant aspects of our 2017 adventure.

How long it took to get to our desired venue. How long it took to get back home, even taking side roads far east of the interstate. All the mind-numbing traffic trying to do the same thing. How much Lizard enjoyed the eclipse but hated the commute both ways. Back when HE did all the driving...

I suddenly felt guilty for wanting to go. Wanting to drive so far. Lizard's mom had been telling me for a week or so he could stay with her while I went alone because she had a better grasp on reality than I did at the time. She knew there was no way he could make such a trip now. I didn't want to go alone. I wanted to enjoy the eclipse with him. Like we did last time.

The Ring of Fire's photographic alure began to dissipate as I realized Lizard would not be able to be in the car long enough for me to drive to one of our dream destinations, either Recapture Pocket (which I imagined to be as photogenic as White Pocket) or the Hite area in Canyonlands National Park.

I had told Lizard he could stay at his mom's and watch the airshow from her back porch (which has a great view of the airport) while I headed west, thinking I could get where I wanted to go in about three hours, shoot the eclipse, then get back in about three more hours.

Lizard would be so busy watching the airshow, he wouldn't really have any problems. His mom would be able to help with his medications. But he wasn't terribly comfortable with me going that far alone. I have to confess, it worried me, too. Not just trying to stay awake on the road alone, but trying to stay safe, period. After a bicycle tire blowout following Lizard's second surgery, I'd realized I can no longer engage in risky behavior such as riding my bike 30-plus miles to the office during rush hour traffic. He can't pick me up if I have a problem. I don't want someone else to have to take care of him if something happens to me. I want to be the one taking care of him.

I realized I wouldn't be able to go to the 2023 eclipse. At all. I didn't feel comfortable dumping Lizard's care on his mom for what seriously could be 24 hours or more, but I also don't even want to think about being without him that long. I can't even imagine how he would feel having to depend on his mom full time for that long, especially right now, with his stepdad's special needs. (One surgery a couple of weeks ago and another coming up in a couple of weeks.) (Then, as it turned out, Lizard's stepdad having to be rushed to the hospital again the day after the eclipse...)

About a month ago, Lizard commented out of the blue, "You can't plan anything anymore, can you?" That strange feeling in the pit of your stomach when someone ackowledges something painful you haven't yet noticed agitated wildly deep down inside. Lizard was right. I really can't plan much of anything now. We never know if he will feel like doing what we plan when the time actually arrives.

I needed to turn my attitude around. I plan a trip to the temple once a month and once a week when I'm able. I plan to go to work for a few hours each week. I plan to go to church each Sunday. Planning these routine outings can be fraught with seemingly unbearable stress. Yet, I usually find a way to make the most important things happen.

The instant I realized how miserable Lizard would be if I dragged him to the Four Corners area or if I left him alone for an entire day or more, I suddenly didn't even want to go southwest anymore. I could be totally content shooting the air show right by Lizard's side.

So, I didn't take the Big Gun. I wouldn't need it, I thought. I could get by with my little point-and-shoot, and I could practice shooting video of very fast-moving objects. I forgot my tripod connector, so I was forced to hand-hold my camera while shooting the Blue Angels. But, hand-holding was incredibly good practice for me.

Back in the days of VHS, when my kids were still small, I sent my dad a video of an air show in Greeley. My dad's reaction made my day. He said I was very good with a movie camera. He'd spent a portion of his electrical career with a television station, and his compliment bowled me over for years.

Now I'm beyond rusty. Plus, the VHS cameras of the '90s were about five times the weight of today's little point-and-shoots. Boy, my little camera now feels (and vividly displays) every breath I take, every itch I feel, every nervous twitch I hadn't realize I was making.

I got in LOTS of practice shooting the Blue Angels practice and the actual performances. Hopefully, I'm getting a little steadier as I go. I know I need to keep practicing. It makes me a bit sick to my stomach to watch the videos I shot in Grand Junction. I still need LOTS of improvement.

As it turned out, the eclipse was more visible in Grand Junction than I'd anticipated, and I had a ball shooting it, too, right from Lizard's mom's backyard, prior to the start of that day's air show.

More lessons learned. The little point and shoot couldn't shoot fast enough for such a bright light spectrum, even with the eclipse filter. I'd have brought the Big Gun had I known I would be able to view such a great eclipse from so far away from annularity.

Even though my photos show none of the sun's gorgeous detail, I can play with the images in Photoshop, and I might even come up with something fun.

In the end, I got to enjoy five glorious days off with my sweet husband, I didn't have to drive hundreds of miles (except to Grand Junction and back), I didn't have to put up with traffic or crowds, and I got a lot of quilt hand-sewing and snowflake crocheting done in the evenings. Not a bad way to spend a vacation!

1 comment :

  1. Well done! You are lucky to be able to see the bright sides of life. :-)


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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