Eclipse Was Unique Experience; Unforgettable for Cowboy State

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Eclipse Was Unique Experience; Unforgettable for Cowboy State

Some 580,000 Wyomingites and what seemed like a million guests became “Umbraphiles” Monday morning because of the wondrous solar eclipse they witnessed.

The Cowboy State offered up a perfect Bluebird Day, with perfect skies and a golden sun that disappeared into blackness for up to 140 seconds. Despite fears of clouds, rainstorms and inclement weather, the day was just unparalleled.

Folks in most parts of the state, but especially Alpine, Jackson, Pinedale, Dubois, Riverton, Lander, Casper, Douglas, Wheatland, Lusk and Torrington, got fantastic views.

State officials have been preparing for this eclipse for two years and there were fears that the state could not handle the crowds. These fears were mostly unrealized except until after the event, when all those cars, trucks and RVs clogged the highways, as folks headed home.

Pat Schmidt reported traffic was 10 mph from Wheatland to Cheyenne. He saw lots of vehicles with extra gas cans strapped to the roofs.

It was bumper-to-bumper south of Riverton and southeast out of Lander for eight miles after the eclipse.

Casper hosted 50,000 people or more and the conditions could not have been better. Casper was featured on ABC-TV on that network’s program of the nation experiencing the big event.

I had earlier predicted 1 million additional visitors to Wyoming for the eclipse. Sure seemed like that estimate could be true.

On Sunday, the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation (WYDOT) estimated an additional 217,000 vehicles on Wyoming roads over normal numbers. If that number was duplicated on Monday, it could add up to 1 million people. Plus those two days of traffic did not count people who had already arrived.

And it was not just tourists or eclipse aficionados who came to Wyoming. It was also family and friends wanting to come home to experience this totally unique event.

Our house was typical. We had 13 extra family members here from California and Colorado. Our experience was duplicated all across the state.

Oddball events were supposed to happen during times like these. But as best as we can tell, members of a suicide cult did not slay themselves in Jackson Hole nor was there a camel sacrificed in the Red Desert outside of Lander. Alas, for the sake of the cultists and one poor camel, they were just rumors. Not sure how many babies were conceived during the totality.

It is also assumed that at least some Arapaho Indian men shot arrows at the eclipse in commemoration of that famous eclipse of 1878. That was when real braves reportedly did shoot arrows at the moon because some sinister force was blocking out their sun.

Google will feature Dubois for its Mega-Movie on the eclipse that will come out soon, using more than 1,000 photographers across the country.

However, in Dubois, Sheriffs officers were called because someone heard a ticking sound coming from a backpack that one of the photographers had left behind. Inside was a camera that had its motor running, sounding like a bomb.

While in Dubois, the Google folks interviewed Dubois Mayor Twila Blakeman and Paula McCormick of the Wind River Visitors Council.

The word to describe someone who gets excited about an eclipse is Umbraphile. I can officially say that I am one. It was a fantastic.

Lander enjoyed a 67-second eclipse. We journeyed to my sister’s house in Riverton, where the totality occurred for twice as long.

Monday, we saw crescent shaped shadows and eerie bright and dark spots during the long periods leading up to and immediately after the totality. The totality was a total unique experience.

I had experienced a partial solar eclipse in 1979 in Lander and in 2012 in Montrose, CO. Both were exciting and in both cases, the surrounding area got very dark and really odd shadows were all over the place. But each event was nothing to compare with Monday’s excitement.

Paula Wonnacott and Fred Pickett of Rock Springs got married in a Riverton back yard during the eclipse as did Lander’s Dave Kellogg’s oldest daughter Julia, who got hitched in Alta. Congratulations for quite the memorable way to get married.

Gov. Matt Mead reported at 4:45 a.m. Monday that traffic on Interstate 25 past the governor’s mansion looked bumper-to-bumper, based on the headlights.

The big AstroCon convention in Casper lived up to its hype and the new downtown development in the WyoCity enjoyed huge crowds.

Wyoming put out the red carpet and was rewarded with perfect weather and perfect skies for a once-in-a-lifetime event.

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