To everyone who bailed on Central Nebraska, I guess I need to thank you lowering the traffic congestion, lol. Coming north from Moore, OK, I kept watching the models as they showed my original target, Grand Island, NE being under cloud cover. I considered changing my destination to somewhere in north central Missouri, as it would be about the same driving distance. If it was just me, I wouldn't stress out about this so much, but I was bringing my mom, girlfriend, and a dog with, so I felt so much more pressure.
We stopped in a McDonald's parking lot in Wichita, KS and I debated for like 30 minutes as to where to go. One model run showed that Missouri was the better choice, and the next would say Nebraska. Finally, I forced myself to choose and I decided to go to my first choice, Grand Island, NE.
The whole way there I was second guessing myself. When I wasn't driving, I was thinking about how terrible I would feel if I blew this, and I couldn't sleep. Even when we got to Grand Island, I never feel asleep as I kept looking at model data to see if we should move further west, and I never got a clear answer.
The morning comes and one of my coworkers was also going to Grand Island, but wasn't as willing to move. I could see clouds to our south and southeast, but our southwest was clear, save for a few cirrus. Time kept passing and I finally said that I'm willing to take our chances at the Grand Island Walmart Supercenter parking lot on the south side of town.
As the eclipse started, the clouds stayed away and I was paranoid that something would block our view of totality. But as we got closer to 12:58 pm, there was nothing moving into the path of the sun and moon. the lights dimmed around us, and it was a very eerie feeling. Like, if you stepped outside and had no idea what was going on in the sky, you could tell that something was off. The temperature began to drop and we could see the sliver of the sun start to fade through our eclipse glasses. Finally the sun was completely blocked and we got the experience of a lifetime.
My girlfriend had her tripod set up and was able to take some great pictures, but this one of the eclipse with Mercury to the left is my favorite.
I just sat in the grass and took it all in. The stress of planning, travel, and spending money was all worth it for this moment.
If you missed this one, start planning now for the 2024 eclipse. It will be worth it, especially if it's your first one.
We got home at 9 pm last night, and I slept like a rock.