Eclipse Day, Henderson, NE

Tillie, our female Scotty, got me up at 4:50 AM CDT. I took all of our dogs outside to do their business, and I am glad she got me up. The sky at that hour was mostly clear, and I saw many stars. I cannot remember the last time I saw The Milky Way as clearly as this morning. Nebraska does have the darkest skies in the country. It was a good start to a memorable day at The Prairie Oasis Campground.

The forecast for today had improved to mostly sunny which gave us some hope. A system of thunderstorms was staying well to our south over Kansas.

I met two amateur astronomers who were camping near us, and they let me look through their 10 inch Dobsonian, which had a solar filter. I was able to observe two groups of sunspots. I asked questions and listened as they explained the many advantages about their Dob. The woman who did most of the talking was named Sheila and she and her husband are from Ontario, Canada. I was also able to observe first contact with the moon at that precise time with their Dob.


We walked our dogs and had lunch about an hour before totality. I went out and took photos of everyone making preparations. At 20 minutes before totality it was looking weird. It was daylight but the lighting was curiously subdued. It was mostly cloudy, and I was preparing for disappointment, and was resigned that it would be a bust. However, Marla and I went over to sit on a picnic table, not far from our RV, to watch the sun through our eclipse glasses. At this point the sun was a crescent, and faded in and out with the passing of the cirrostratus clouds.


The local Mourning Doves started cooing as the clock ran down to totality. Suddenly, there was a opening in the cloud cover, and with that, totality occurred. There were cheers and hoots when we were rewarded with an awesome sight.

Television and photographs simply do not do it justice. The sky is actually a dark blue during totality. I looked directly at the incredible sight and tried to take photos. Totality lasted for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. I also kept an eye on the time and did a 5 second countdown to 3rd contact to warn people to put their eclipse glasses back on, and the sun emerged precisely at zero.

With only 250 seconds of totality, I messed up my camera settings, and didn’t get any useful images. This was my best overexposed image.


However, I asked the astronomers if I could buy their images. They said they’d share their images, copying them to my memory card, after processing them following 4th contact. I thanked them and said I’d be by tonight. Later, I obtained over two dozen images. Here are a few:

There was also an effect on the air temperature during the eclipse.

Through it all, our dogs were not impressed.


Eclipse 2017: Sixth and Final Leg

Today is our final leg to our eclipse site.

Dogs got me up at around 6 AM CDT. It had rained during the night. I took them for a walk to the highway and back.

I topped off the fresh water tank before departing.

This morning we took our time getting ready for travel. Took our dogs to the small dog park one more time before leaving. Then, it was retract the slide outs, disconnect the hookups and retract the jacks. Soon we were heading southbound on I-29.

We stopped for a break, and to eat lunch, in the parking area of a Marriott Hotel off of I-680, west of Omaha. Soon we were headed westbound on I-80 again toward Lincoln. Nothing looked familiar to me, except for The Platte River, until we got to Lincoln. However, there’s been a great deal of development since I left 35 years ago, when I finished my graduate work at UNL.

We stopped at a Casey’s General Store (The Sheetz/Wawa of the west) for another break and fuel. However, due to a lightning strike the night before, the pumps were not operating. I walked our dogs and then bought Marla, my wife, some coffee. She said the coffee was very good.

It wasn’t long before Tillie started her, “I want to stop!,” yipping. I got off at the next exit, where there were no services, and investigated. It turned out that a lower drawer had opened during travel. I resolved that issue and gave treats to all of our pets (slipped a little extra to Tillie). We got back on the interstate and it wasn’t long before, Tillie started her, “I want to stop!,” yipping again. This time, it was Trixie that needed to be walked. Have I mentioned that we love our dogs?

We stopped one more time in York, NE, to top off the fuel tank. Soon we arrived at our eclipse campground, near Henderson, NE, called Prairie Oasis, around 3:30 PM CDT.

We soon settled and relaxed before the big day tomorrow.

While walking Tillie, Toby Two; our two Scotties; and our Westie, Trixie, I discovered the campground tornado/storm shelter.

The forecast for tomorrow has deteriorated somewhat. The NWS is now calling for partly sunny. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

Eclipse 2017: Downtime

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A down day to recharge, relax and do some housekeeping.

Performed a basic maintenance check on the RV. All OK.

Discovered a small enclosed dog park, with a single large tree, in the back of the campground. This allowed our pups to run around.

My wife had a brilliant idea and placed a peel and stick map of The U.S. on the bottom of the forward bunk. It also came with a black erasable marker to track our progress.

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The machines in the campground laundry had whimsical names:

It was a very good plan to go on a few shakedown trips before this big trip. We both learned a few things, as well as got in some practice setting up and tearing down. As a result, we had no major issues during our 1000 mile journey. Just a few minor glitches; nothing that couldn’t be fixed with duct tape and simple tools.

Eclipse 2017: Leg 5

Tillie got me up at 6 AM CDT for walkies.

I secured a site for two days in Onawa, IA.

We packed up and left Oxford, IA, around 10:30 AM CDT, and saw this sign as we exited the campground.

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We had to stop at the next exit on I-80 because Tillie had dropped her bone outside her crate. Resolved that issue and pressed onward. Stopped at a rest area just east of Des Moines for a break.

In Des Moines, we stopped at a Price Chopper supermarket for groceries and lunch. Then we stopped at a Pet Smart, 4 miles later, for pet supplies (we love our dogs).

We got back on I-80 and continued to travel west. Along the way, we traveled through two large wind farms. This one is near Walnut, IA, where we stopped for fuel and a break.

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Toby Two got carsick, so we needed another doggy bed. I found a place in Council Bluffs to buy them and we diverted there. Did I mention how much we love our dogs?

We then proceeded northbound on I-29 and made one more rest stop. We arrived at our campsite for the weekend in Onawa, IA at 7:45 PM CDT.

After we got set up, we got the TV tuned, and the news was covering a severe thunderstorm with tornado vortex signatures (TVS) and hen egg size hail (I love Iowa). The storms were well to our northeast so no worries at our campsite.

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We plan to stay in Onawa until Sunday to recharge, relax and do some housekeeping Our pups need a break as well.

I tried to find a site around Des Moines but The Iowa State Fair, and an LPGA golf tournament, were in progress so all the campgrounds within an hours drive were booked. Our current site is less than 3 hours from our eclipse site, and we will travel there on Sunday.

Forecast at the time of the eclipse at our site is still calling for mostly sunny.

Eclipse 2017: Leg 4

Left the campground near Joliet, IL, before lunch. Went to a nearby Pet Smart for supplies. Got lunch from a Steak and Shake. Then we proceeded west on I-80. Stopped at a rest area and observed a plot of restored prairie.

Crossed The Mississippi River near The Quad Cities, and reached a campground near Oxford, Iowa, just west of Iowa City. Stopped for fuel before arriving. Can’t beat the prices.

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We need to find a place to stay for the weekend tomorrow.

Eclipse 2017: Leg 3

Left Coldwater, MI, at about 10:30 AM EDT. Proceeded west on US 12, and then turned south into Indiana to pick up The Indiana Toll Road. The section we drove on was smoother than the one near the Ohio line. Made three stops, two at service areas and one at Bristol, IN for groceries.

Saw this at one of the service areas, left as a warning to others.

Our dogs were very good this leg of the trip. We only had one request (Tillie) to stop for a walk. We ran into heavy traffic on I-80/94 south of Chicago for seven miles due to a construction zone. That slowed us down significantly. By 3 PM CDT we were near Joilet, IL and looked for a place to camp. Found one near the l-55/80 interchange. By then, our good weather ended with heavy rain as we arrived. It was short lived, and I didn’t have to wait long to connect our hookups after parking at our site.

Forecast at our eclipse site is still looking good. Mostly sunny with a high of 89 dog F.

Eclipse 2017: Leg 2

Our dogs (Tillie) got me up shortly before 6 AM. I took all three for a walk but it was difficult. The leashes keep getting tangled.

While we were in Akron, our Westie, Trixie had a spa day. Here’s what she looks like now.

You can see her eyes clearly now.

Packed up the rig, got it ready for travel and left the campground around 11:30 AM. Made a stop at a Pilot Service Station, at The Ohio Turnpike interchange, for fuel and lunch. With my Good Sam membership I got a discount for gasoline.

The Ohio Turnpike has a speed limit of 70 mph. However, there were several construction zones with a speed limit of 50 mph. It is a long, boring expressway. Imagine The New Jersey Turnpike, but twice as long.

We stopped at the Erie Islands Service Area for a break and once more at the last exit, before Indiana, at a Quality Inn. Here’s Toby Two, one of our Scottish Terriers, during our last break of the day.

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We arrived at the campground, at about 6 PM, in Coldwater, MI. I officially added Michigan to the list of states I have visited that didn’t involve an airport.

Long range forecast for Eclipse Day in Nebraska is looking good. Mostly sunny with a high of 87 deg F.


Eclipse 2017: Leg 1

Today, my wife, our three dogs, and I set out on the first leg of our trip west to view the solar eclipse. After loading our class A motor home it was near noon when we started our journey. We traveled only 200 miles before we stopped near Akron, OH. We did plan to meet a friend here before proceeding west. Weather today was mostly cloudy but cleared up before crossing the Ohio line.

I plan to reach Indiana tomorrow.