The Great American Eclipse

eclipse graphicThe Great American Eclipse–it promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Originally, I’d planned on driving to Oregon to see it, since from there the entire sun would be covered. We live in northern California, so it wasn’t that far. It didn’t seem like an unreasonable expectation.

But unfortunately, real life intervened. We own a construction company—waterproofing, which is a subcontractor job, and thus we are at the beck and call of general contractors. So of course our contractor down in San Luis Obispo, seven hours to the southwest, chose to schedule us that week.

Well, drat. The Sacramento area where we live was only going to get to see 80% of the eclipse, and traveling further south would only reduce those numbers. Still, it’s not as though I’ve never seen an eclipse before. I viewed one from Los Angeles in the nineties, and we had an absolutely perfect day to go with the last total eclipse in Eureka, California, back in 2012.

Besides, I couldn’t find the approved glasses anywhere. I’d tossed the last pair, never thinking that these things might be hard to come by. It had been no big deal to find them before. Ha. I don’t know if they were deliberately made scarce to drive up the prices, or if retailers underestimated the numbers of people who would want them, but I couldn’t find the special glasses in stores anywhere. And there were plenty of warnings about buying them online, even if I was willing to pay fifty bucks for them, which I wasn’t.

Plus, we were going to the coast. During my first solar eclipse, we had also gone to the beach, and we were frustrated by clouds blocking the view. They cleared at the last moment, but that’s not the sort of thing you can count on. So I told myself it was no big deal and to just get over it.

But in the back of my mind, I didn’t quite let go. I had the eclipse time memorized, and the morning of the twenty-first, I scanned the beach eagerly.

Avila Beach1

This was easy to do because we’d found the best campsite of my entire life, and I’ve camped a lot. In Avila Beach, almost due west from San Luis Obispo, they have many RV sites, and we scored the best possible one—on the bluffs above, overlooking the beach, with our view framed by aloes and a purple-flowering bush that I never found out the name of but still quite liked.

Not only that, but the site came with the coolest address I’ve ever had. The bluffs were on a road called Babe Lane, and we were in campsite number one. So for a week, my address was #1 Babe Lane, Avila Beach, California.

But the morning of the twenty-first, my nifty address was socked in. We could see across the bay, but everything overhead was solid cloud cover. I told myself it was just as well. I still didn’t have the special glasses, and nobody else in the campground seemed to have any either. As interesting as viewing an eclipse might be, it’s not worth damaging my eyesight. Best just to have the temptation removed.

But around ten o’clock, just before the peak of the eclipse at 10:19, the clouds started to break apart, enough to see the sun if you just glanced up. Really, it was so bright that what I mostly saw was the afterimage when I looked away. But the dots dancing on the back of my eyelids shaped themselves into a crescent. It was better than no view at all.

And then something wonderful happened.

The sun went behind a cloud—not a big, thick, heavy one, but a wispy veil with just enough substance for the sun to shine through. Everyone could look up without even squinting. It was marvelous, and it lasted the entire two minutes.

solar eclipse1

In the space of just a few minutes, my day had changed from a disappointment to one I’ll always remember.

What a terrific gift.

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

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Posted in My Stories
22 comments on “The Great American Eclipse
  1. What a wonderful experience you had, Cathleen. We couldn’t see it at all where we were.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jenanita01 says:

    A very special gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan Antion says:

    I’m glad you got to see that, and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What lovely surprises–a beautiful beach site and clouds just in time to gift you an amazing eclipse view! Here in Maine, Dan and I took turns watching the 25% view through his welding mask. I got some pix and we were delighted with our little backyard viewing too. Thanks so much for sharing your photos and story, Cathleen. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you got to see it! It was kind of special that Americans all over the country were doing it together. We don’t get to do that sort of thing very often. I’m so glad you had the welding mask and saw it, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Karma loves you! I’m in Washington and got 90% coverage, but I was working and didn’t get to see it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman says:

    First of all, I am very jealous of that address… But how wonderful that you got to see the eclipse in such a unique and special way! Just goes to show that good things happen when we least expect them. Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My husband and I swore to each other that we’re going to try to return there and camp once a year. You know how it is with good intentions…still, I’m looking forward to going back. Maybe this is how some people feel about Hawaii. Only Avila Beach is a LOT cheaper–no planes or hotels required. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Carolee Croft says:

    That was a very lucky break!
    Sadly I’m in the ‘other’ America (ie South America) and I missed the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so glad you got a peek, Cathleen. And from such a beautiful spot! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cav12 says:

    Thanks for sharing, Cathleen. We got to see the eclipse on TV. We’re a tad far away from when it happened LOL ;D

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy so much of the eclipse in your own way and to recognize its dazzle.


  11. I watched it on tv. It was awesome! What an exciting moment it must have been to actually SEE it.


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