In Pursuit of Totality

Two weeks before the Great North American Solar Eclipse, I had no plans to see the eclipse – let alone to travel to the path of totality. A last minute decision led to an unforgettable adventure that included Tennessee hot chicken, a friendship bracelet, and an amazing solar eclipse.

My younger sister is currently in Nashville for a traveling nurse assignment, and I made plans to visit her with our mom in early April. In March, some friends were discussing their plans to travel to Texas to see the eclipse, and I recalled the stories I heard from the 2017 solar eclipse where hotels and rental cars were either sold out or priced absurdly high. When looking up the details for this eclipse, I suddenly realized that the return date from my Nashville trip was the day before the eclipse, and Nashville was only a 3-hour drive away from the path of totality in Kentucky and southern Illinois!

Finding the Eclipse using the National Solar Observatory Website ( and the Star Walk App

Fortunately I was able to change my flight fairly easily, and there were no issues extending my Nashville hotel and rental car – I assume it was far enough away that the demand was not an issue. My husband (Sven), who had not planned to join me on my original trip to Nashville, was also able to arrange travel and time off from work to partake on this eclipse-chasing adventure. Now, if only the weather would hold up as it was showing rain and overcast for the area and a large portion of the Southern United States…

After enjoying some Tennessee hot chicken on Broadway the night before in Nashville, Sven and I journeyed out toward the Kentucky and Illinois border early the day of the eclipse. We stopped for breakfast at Cracker Barrel (of course), and even picked up some space-themed salt and pepper shakers. We then ventured across the Ohio River to a park in Metropolis, Illinois, to watch the eclipse, and we met a lady that grew up in Los Angeles and she gifted me an eclipse friendship bracelet.  :​)

After waiting a few hours, it was finally time for the eclipse. We got incredibly lucky with the weather and, for lack of a better word, the total eclipse was magnificent. Sven also captured some amazing pictures with his nice camera and posted them to his blog. Afterwards, we saw the giant Superman statue, who was also prepared for the eclipse with larger-than-life eclipse glasses 😎, and finally we made the trek back to Nashville (a total round trip of 15 hours).

There were moments of doubt for whether the total eclipse would be worth it – the logistics, the costs, taking time off from work, etc. I can now say it is 100% worth it, and I highly recommend everyone experience a total eclipse at least once in their lifetime. 

Extra #1: As usual, the Oatmeal had a great comic for the eclipse, and a friend embedded one of the images with my eclipse photo.  ;​)

Extra #2: In 2008, there was a total eclipse in the Arctic while I was there for a field test related to my PhD research. We were not so lucky with the weather that time, but it was still an interesting experience to have total darkness during the summer when the sun never sets in the Arctic. We also made the most of the experience with some funny pictures trying to find the sun.

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