The eclipse was awesome. The part of Nebraska where we were going was overcast and so Alex and I drove as far as we could to the northwest while still staying in the zone of totality. We got Google Maps to plot a line from Lincoln to North Platte and stayed close to that line. We could see clear sky in the distance but never quite made it. The sky wasn’t too thickly clouded over where we ended up, so we at least could see the sun. By the time we stopped, it was nothing but gravel roads.
The odd thing is that it didn’t seem to be that dark. I wondered if we had left the zone of totality. Then I looked at the photos I took later and realized that it actually had been quite dark.
It was incredibly crowded on the way back. I read an estimate that only about 100,000 people were going to be in Nebraska, and that most of them were going to the western part of the state. But we came back quite a long way by a US Route and the road was solid. There also were crowds at all of the rest areas we passed on our way down. We finally used the bathroom at a Walmart (we had to stop for batteries and cheese sticks anyhow).
So now we’re home and all we have left to do is pay off my credit card.
My now-ex and I used to hate driving up Interstate 35 during the daytime. Even back in the days when we were on 35 fairly regularly (visiting family in Chicago or friends in Austin or Dallas), which would be nearly 10 years ago now, Interstate 35 was awfully congested. So on occasions when we were leaving Texas, we started the drive up 35 at night. This generally meant that we’d see Dallas in our rear-view mirror by sunrise. Since Omaha is pretty much a straight shot up Interstate 35, Alex and I are going to continue the tradition by leaving at 10:00 p.m. today.
So once I get my shower done, we’re going to do our last-minute errands. We need to board our senior cat (16 years old with inflammatory bowel disease and diabetes) and then pick up some Sugru to reinforce the ends of my phone’s charging cable. Then we’ll run up to Walmart to pick up a few other non-edible items, then to HEB for refrigeratable food (they have big containers of sliced Gala apples that Alex and I have basically been inhaling for the last couple of months). I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it errand-wise for today.
Then we have to clean. I need to vacuum my bedroom floor and we need to clean the bathroom. I failed to clean the bathroom once before I went out of town, and what I came home to was not pleasant. Then we’ll take a nap so that we’re fresh for our 14-hour drive (which will probably take 16 hours, what with bathroom stops and things).
I’m pretty much done packing. I’ve got five shirts and five sets of underwear (I always bring one extra, just in case, and I have actually needed it) and have packed Alex’s and my medications and our soap. I just need to pack my deodorant and shampoo and I’m done with that.
The first time we visited Detroit, it seemed like a nice enough city. Of course, looking at the long term, Detroit was about halfway declined by then (Detroit had peaked in the 1950s). The decline, however, was much more obvious to us in 1987. Maybe we just visited more obviously declined neighborhoods on this trip, but we found that to be really sad.
Cincinnati was also kind of depressing as well. In 1980, my mom and I had spent the day at Union Terminal, which was, at the time, a shopping mall. When we returned in 1987, the mall was closed. We had, at that point, no idea that three years later Union Terminal would reopen as the Museum Center. We had had dinner in the rotating restaurant atop the Quality Inn which is now a Radisson in 1980. That restaurant was closed as well.
I’m hoping to redeem the memory of that trip to Cincinnati, at least, the weekend of the total eclipse in 2017. We won’t be able to see the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be where the eclipse will be total for the longest period, as the trip back to San Antonio will take too much time. If all goes as planned, we’ll be going up through Memphis and Nashville to Cincinnati and then across to either Kansas or Nebraska, depending on where we can get a room at this point. Then we’ll come straight back and go back to work and (likely, though the calendar hasn’t been released yet) school the next day. And we don’t need to stay right on top of the eclipse site, since we’ll be driving. We can stay a bit out of the way and drive to the eclipse site. Having our car will also open up more possible places to see the eclipse. If the place we stay ends up being overcast that day, we can go northwest or southeast until we find a place that’s open.