|Even saints got into the eclipse mood|
There were already people arriving, though, so instead of having time to walk we were pressed into service. Tony's job was to help direct cars. I was assigned to sell Cosmic Cookies (several varieties, all freshly-made in the center's kitchen). The cookies weren't ready, so I had the chance to chat with some of the other volunteers while I waited.
The retreat center sits at the top of a large hill. There were two viewing areas; the main one at the crest of the hill by the building's front door, and a second one at the bottom. A wide variety of people arrived to watch. Most of them were older, but there was a large group of middle school students who arrived in school buses and used the event as an educational experience. I also talked to several parents who let their children skip school so they could watch the event together.
Eventually a shave ice truck arrived and parked at one end of the main viewing area. A group of astronomers set up two huge telescopes. When the cookies arrived, sales were brisk. The event turned into a great party.
|Ready to look into the sky|
The moon entered the sun's path at 11:49 am and continued for the next two hours and 54 minutes. Ten minutes before totality began the astronomers gave us a warning, and offered another a couple of minutes before. They sounded an alarm when it was safe to take off our glasses, and a reminder when it was time to put the glasses back on.
The total eclipse started at 1:16pm and lasted for 2 minutes 8.3seconds. Shortly before totality the shadows on the ground started to look very strange. Night insects started chirping. The temperature dropped, and the cars turned their headlights on. At totality, the ghostly moon silhouette passed directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but a halo-like solar corona. As inspiring as the totality was, the first peek of the sun afterwards was almost more awesome.
It didn't take long for enough of the sun to become visible again to put things in nature back to normal. Once things were bright out again people began packing their things up to move out. Tony and I stayed around long enough to help tear down the tents and carry some things into the center, then we headed to our car, taking our memories of a lifetime with us.