Wonder Woman Athena — While Terry and I were spending our days scouting out the perfect eclipse viewing spot, our children were doing things like this. (photo credit: Jem Matilsky)
It’s Sunday of Labor Day Weekend as I start this post — and America is partying — At least in Illinois and Iowa.
Terry’s mind is still on the moon and how several cosmic coincidences allowed us to see it eclipse the Sun. This photo was a few days post-eclipse, from Lander, Wyoming. As we traveled east from the Tetons we were on the eclipse path, and most people we met had seen the eclipse — it was like we had this bond. Then we veered south and people had seen it partially and then not at all.
The 2017 Solar Eclipse is over. And so is most of our trip.
Our family reunion was two years in the planning. A year ago we won the telephone battle for reservations in the Tetons — after three hours on the phone we came away with RV sites and cabins for 14 people. We opened four credit card accounts to get the bonus miles so that we could fly out various family members. Ruth reserved rental cars months in advance (including one in Colorado for the eventuality, just in case, that an airline connection was missed), before the companies started charging $250/day. And she figured out how to feed 8 of those family members with only a 6 cubic foot refrigerator in which to store food.
I’d never seen an eagle before and s/he was much more beautiful than any picture. The eagle stayed on the branch for at least five minutes and turned this way and that. It was like s/he was posing for us. (photo credit: Jem Matilsky) It turns out that it is quite difficult to tell male and female eagles apart — there are size differences that I wouldn’t know how to judge.
It was a great reunion and it’s still a great trip. For awhile there were 14 of us for dinner each night and now there are two. That’s okay for now.
Me and my girls. I was wondering why the eclipse glasses wouldn’t stay on my head and then Terry figured out that it was my bushy hair. So that is why I’m wearing the tight scarf.
Our first stop after Colter Bay was Lander, Wyoming — one of the towns on the eclipse path. People there were still talking about the eclipse — and about the traffic. Our friend who saw the eclipse in Casper said she feared that many people in years to come would be talking not so much about the eclipse — but about the hours long gridlock in an area that just does not see traffic jams — ever.
There’s a state park in Lander called Sinks Canyon — where the Popo Agie (pronounce it “Puh-po’ zha” ) River flows along into a cave and the water literally sinks into the rock and disappears underground. A quarter mile later it re-emerges. To prove that it is the same river water that re-emerges, there has been experimentation with dye, and sure enough — the dye shows up downstream. But what no one understands is why the amount of water increases at the other end.
Above is the cavern where the river disappears. It is theorized that underneath is a labyrinth of caves — but no spelunkers have been able to explore the caves since they are so small.
Popo Agie River Downstream
When the Popo Agie River emerges there is this trout pool with the largest trout we’d ever seen — hundreds of them.
From Lander we went to Laramie, Wyoming where we visited friends on their 800 acre horse ranch. They took us to Vedauwoo, where we hiked the Turtle Rock Trail. Vedauwoo is an Arapaho word that means “earth born.” According to legend, the rock formations were created by “playful spirits.” The area is still considered a sacred space. I suggest you click on these pictures to get the full effect.
We had to walk under some of these balanced rocks and it does give one pause.
We returned to Illiniwek, Illinois, on Wednesday, August 30, and were lucky to get the next to last spot available for the Labor Day weekend. We’re enjoying the last days of our trip on the Mississippi River, watching the barges go by.
Illinois Democrats from Moline organized a Labor Day picnic at our campground, and quite a festive event it was! What a relief to be with hundreds of people, not a single one of whom was a Trump supporter. Illinois has same day voter registration and just passed a law (thanks to people like our son Jake, who worked with local groups and leaders to get it passed) that provides for automatic voter registration. We spoke with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, and met one of the candidates for governor in 2018. Their message: Trump won because people who are struggling economically were turned off when Hilary (and Obama) talked about the “great recovery” — because it certainly didn’t reach them. Take heed Democrats: Identity politics has to be coupled with realistic economic plans.
Have I mentioned that traveling with Terry is educational? He gets such joy out of learning what makes things work. Near our campsite was one of innumerable sets of locks and dams on the Mississippi — this was #14– We spent one evening walking across the dam — and the next day waited for two hours while two tugboats and the barge they were guiding made it through the locks. What a production! I have to admit that it was hot and I might have just trusted that the guys in charge would make it happen without our oversight, but Terry was so involved in the whole thing that I didn’t have the heart to complain –well, I complained, but not too much. And I admit that in the end it was satisfying to see the barges get on their way.
This is a picture I posted during our first time in Illiniwek — here you can see the large white tug pushing the barges — the smaller tug in the top picture seems to be used only for guiding in and around the locks. We were told that the barges contained wheat and corn.
We spent several days riding our bicycles along the Great River Trail, and bade goodbye to the west.
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It’s Thursday Sept 7 . . . . . . . and we are in Zanesville, Ohio resting up from two straight days of driving. We want to be home and we don’t want to be home. We have things to do in NJ but Terry is retired now and that will change things in ways we don’t yet know about. Meanwhile, we’re processing the trip.
As we drove through Illinois on the way to Indiana, I noticed a bunch of signs one after the other along the road — They went like this:
I HAVE A GUN
IT’S PRETTY AND PINK
MADE THE BAD GUY
STOP AND THINK
Guns Save Lives
Turns out there is an organization dedicated to spreading this message. There are a lot of people who really love their guns. Another reason Trump won.
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This truck was produced the same year I was born — 1948 — The weekend before we returned to New Jersey we camped at a huge campground in Bedford, Pa, where they had on-site activities — like this car show.
Some of the “vintage” cars were from 1972 — and even 1982 — The ones we liked the best were from before we were born. THAT is vintage!!
. . . . . . . . . BACK HOME . . . . . . . September 13 2017
We pulled in Monday morning — amazingly, our normally busy street was practically deserted and we had no trouble backing into our driveway. (Terry here: Actually, not so amazing. Ruth planned our window of arrival: Monday, when most people would be at work. From 10 am. to 2 pm. Just working the odds…. As Pasteur said: “chance favors the prepared mind”.) Our heads are still on the trip as we get used to living in our 10 room house — after being in a 15′ x 7′ living space for three months On the trip we had two coffee cups — here we have a cupboard full — in the trailer I almost exclusively used my kindle and couldn’t find space for a box of envelopes — here I have shelves and desks and closets and a library. Too much stuff.
BUT — I do have to admit that I am delighted to be reunited with my wardrobe.
BEFORE WE TAKE YOUR LEAVE — There are some people I don’t want to forget:
Our “neighbors” during the eclipse party. She took our family picture, for which we are forever indebted — and he recommended the book I’m presently reading — “American Eclipse.” We were ships passing in the night — and also politically sympatico.
Then there were:
The artist couple at Wolf Camp who painted their teardrop trailer with polka dots.
Cara — Christian Mom of 4, including two Haitian orphans — who told me I was “cute” and spoke seriously about bigotry in our country —
The guy with the BERNIE t-shirt in Nebraska who set up his telescope and invited everyone in the campground to look at the Moon and Saturn.
The self named “cat lady” in Wyoming who managed one of our campgrounds and made a birthday party for a long term camper and invited everyone to come. She wouldn’t tell me how many cats she had.
There is a fondness in my heart for 11 year old Simon who heard me playing the guitar in the Badlands and came to sit with me and tell me his life story.
In Casper we met a couple our age who sold everything they owned and bought a van so they can spend the next 18 months traveling throughout all 50 states (although I’m not sure about Hawaii)
I’m wondering whether the young woman I met in the pool at Thermopolos — who also had an August 21st birthday — was able to see the eclipse when she went to Nebraska.
We met so many full timers — Among them were Carina the fiddle player who’s been full timing for 16 years — the man whose birthday we celebrated in Casper who’s been on the road for 5 years with his wife — and the full time couple from Seattle who publish an RV magazine — from their RV.
We were — and are — truly blessed.
With lots of love, Til Next Time
Ruth and Terry