Homeward Bound: Leg 1

My Tillie alarm clock went off at 6:50 AM CDT.

We are still in awe after observing the eclipse. We learned today that I-80 was a parking lot west of Lincoln, and beyond our site near Henderson. We couldn’t observe this directly but heard about it from other campers when they went to town after totality. There was also some price gouging in Scottsbluff, NE. One motel charged $900 a night. Another person bought 100 acres of land, for $40K, and charged RVers $1000 each to park without any hookups. He made quite an indecent profit. The average price for our RV has been around $38 a night including 50 ampere electric service, water, sewer, WiFi, and other amenities such as laundry.

We packed the RV, walked the dogs, thanked the campground owners and left. There was just one RV remaining when we departed at 11:15 AM CDT, and began our journey home, headed for Beatrice, NE.

Along the way, we stopped in Lincoln for doggy walks and lunch at a Casey’s General Store.

Just north of Beatrice, I walked the dogs while Marla shopped for groceries at a WalMart. From there it was a short drive to Homestead National Monument .

At the Monument, they were still cleaning up from the previous day’s eclipse activities. The NPS crew looked weary. Marla got her passbook stamped and I was able to get a lifetime senior NP pass before they increased the cost. We also took a brief look around and viewed one of the largest tracts (100 acres) of restored tall grass prairie in The United States.

Our dogs also walked near this area which officially made them:


I also learned the homesteaders secret to success:

Then, we went to our campsite near Nebraska City. I had trouble navigating near the campground since the local roads were torn up and the GPS was useless as a result. I called the campground for directions and arrived successfully.

Tomorrow, we plan to stop at Camping World in Council Bluffs, IA, and then go to Pipestone National Monument, which is just east of Sioux Falls, SD, in Minnesota. South Dakota will be a new state for Marla, and Minnesota will be a new one for all of us.

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.