The air grew cold. Then colder still. Blue skies turned steel gray and darkened – too dark for sunglasses but not night-dark. Weird dark. Cold dark. The lodge lights burned bright orange on the deck. Birds stopped chirping. Crickets and other night critters began twittering their nightly melodies. I found myself somewhere between day and night.
It all started with an eery stillness in our current “hometown” of West Yellowstone, Mont. On the eve of the 2017 “All American Solar Eclipse” the usually lively tourist town seemed to seep into a sleepy haven. Hotels and RV Parks posted “No Vacancy” signs and campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park were full. So, where were all the people?
Pondering the question this morning, Greg and I headed southwest to the total-eclipse zone in Idaho about 40 miles away. Just 12 miles out of town we hit gridlock. Time passed. The sun rose higher in the sky. “Well, let’s turn back and try going into Yellowstone”, Greg cheerily suggested. We had crossed the park off our eclipse destination list because it was the main route to Grand Teton National Park, another totality zone. Crowds and traffic were predicted to be overwhelming.
To our surprise, we sailed through Yellowstone National Park’s entrance gates with no waiting! We passed empty turnouts and unfilled parking lots, even at the most popular hot springs and geysers. We seemed to have traveled back in time — before the summer crowds appeared. Old Faithful welcomed us with plenty of open seating and announced the solar eclipse by erupting shortly after the moon took a bite-sized chunk out of the sun.
We strolled the boardwalks past mini-geysers and bubbling hot springs, stopping to peer through our sun-safe glasses and watch the moon roll over the sun.
So, where were all the people? As it turns out, the town of West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park were simply “on the way” or “in between” two eclipse totality areas. We may have been betwixt instead of bewitched by a total solar eclipse but the experience was sheer delight!