At long last, the day of the eclipse was upon us! Kim and I went for a walk and it was hotter than any of the previous days, even though we got an earlier start – not a great sign! The sky was clear, though, so we were hoping it would stay that way. Judy had gone to Red’s for doughnuts, so we all shared a big box of pure sweetness – heavenly!
We got downtown and found parking spaces with no problems, and we just wandered around a bit prior to time to enter the party area. Soon it was time, so we staked out a table in the breeziest section of the yard. We were joined by Jeanne and Pat, a delightful couple from Chicago who had come to Paducah for the big event. They were a hoot and we loved having them celebrate with us! It was plenty warm, so Jim and Alex went back to their car to get a couple of golf umbrellas, as we had no shade at all. Thankfully, we could go into the Carson Center for beer and bathroom breaks. Lunch was served about 11:30, but we waited a good bit later so that the line was not so long. BBQ, baked beans, hash brown casserole, cole slaw, cookies, and Moon Pies were on the menu, and they were delicious!
I had a great eclipse timer app, so we were able to know the exact moment when first contact would appear at our location – it was so exciting!! Things started moving quickly after that, and we were all so surprised that our eclipse glasses worked so well, because you could not see one thing out of them in normal light! We decided to try some pinhole ‘cameras’, and that was fun. We took pictures of the eclipse shadows on our hands, on eclipse handouts, and on plain paper. It took us a while to work out the best angles and positions, but we did it!
At one point, we noticed that shadows of the leaves on the sidewalk had changed, and anywhere there was a hole in a leaf, there was a crescent-shaped shadow. We took off the tablecloth on the table next to us in hopes of seeing shadow bands (at second and fourth contact) on the white surface. And we did, but it was really hard to get a good photo of them. Blissfully, as it got closer to time for the full eclipse, the temperature dropped significantly. There were no animals around to observe ‘strange’ behavior, and before we knew it, the total eclipse was happening! We saw the diamond ring, and then we heard the app tell us “Glasses off!!” – the moment of totality was finally here! I got a couple of great photos, and noticed lots of bugs hitting my arms. Then the app told us to observe the horizon, and we say what looked like a beautiful sunset.
All too soon, it was time to put our glasses back on and prepare for fourth contact. Pat had recorded a video during totality, and we were shocked to hear the crickets chirping and cicadas humming during it. That explained the bugs hitting me – as if it were nightfall! The big post-eclipse excitement was learning that Paducah would be in the path of the next one, which just happens to be on Jenny’s birthday in 2024!! Pat and Jeanne are planning to join us, wherever we end up watching it!
Lots of people started leaving fairly soon, even though the moon still had a ways to go before the sun was uncovered. Between the heat and the fear of huge traffic jams, many were ready to get out of there! Jim and Alex left after a while to get back to Memphis, but Jenny and Judy had some shopping to do. We were able to see the last bit of the eclipse before leaving.
On our way back to the hotel, we drove by PTHS (our high school) and we stopped by the Chief Paduke statue. J & J headed back to Nashville hoping not to run into a big traffic jam, and thankfully, they were rewarded! None of our group hit traffic, but we talked to several who had a seven hour ride back to Louisville (about twice what it would normally be)!!
Kim went to visit her friend Francie, and I did some laundry for us, and then we both enjoyed the Homewood happy hour. On our way downtown for dinner, we drove by our old house, and then we made our way to Max’s, where we enjoyed delicious salmon and a perfect gin and tonic. After dinner, we walked back down to the river to see the Queen of the Mississippi, and then we called it a day. And what a special one it was!!