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Discussion: Solar eclipse viewing recommendations!

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 14, 2017 6:18 PM # 
Hey everyone! Rob and I are travelling south to get a glimpse of the totality next Monday. Today I just started reading about how bad the traffic is expected to be, and I was wondering whether anyone here had recommendations of a place to hole up for the day? We're in Gatlinburg TN overnight Sunday, and we're hopefully flying out of Atlanta late on Monday (or not, if the traffic is the worst they envisage!).

Anyone have any favourite quiet spots on the south side of the National Forests there that might be worth aiming for? We'll probably drive somewhere as early as we can get up, drive as far towards Atlanta as we can to still be in the totality, and spend most of the day there. So somewhere with a good 4-5 hour hike would also be great!

Anyone else making a special trip?
Aug 14, 2017 8:38 PM # 
Well, I have a room booked in Casper Wyoming Sunday night, planning to head up early Sunday from Colorado Springs area. Not sure that has any bearing on your voyage though :-).
Aug 14, 2017 8:46 PM # 
We actually considered Wyoming too Jim! Shorter flight to Atlanta was persuasive...but I think we may regret not going somewhere a bit less populated.

Also, I have no idea if this is still true, but I loved the fact that a few years ago Casper as the only place in Wyoming with escalators.
Aug 14, 2017 8:56 PM # 
Arthurd and I are driving from Rochester, NY to Rock Hill, SC. My brother and his family live there, just outside of the path of totality, so we'll make a long weekend of it. We may drive the back roads if the traffic on the interstate system is as bad as they say.

My parents are in Ft. Collins, CO and planning to head to Casper as well. And my college roommate, who lives in Kuala Lumpur, is also going to Casper. She looked at the long-term averages for cloud-free days in August, and seemed to think Casper was the best bet.
Aug 14, 2017 9:05 PM # 
Yeah, there seems to be a reasonably chance of unclear skies in the northern GA/ Asheville area this time of year! So much to consider :) !
Aug 14, 2017 9:22 PM # 
We're driving to Charleston, and hoping it's not cloudy. Anticipating horrible crowds and traffic, especially driving I-95 back north afterward.
I looked into flying to Kansas City, visiting Mike & Mary in Lawrence & my old professor, then going to the area of totality not far away, but plane ticket prices were crazy. Driving is much cheaper.
It's cool to think so many people will be experiencing this event, more or less together!
Aug 14, 2017 10:49 PM # 
Given the dire warnings for I-25 from Denver to Wyoming (or the highways to Nebraska), I have no idea how I-95 will be.
Aug 14, 2017 10:59 PM # 
Rock Hill SC?
There's somebody else ought to be checking in on this thread.
Aug 14, 2017 11:35 PM # 
Initial weather forecasts for western North Carolina and surrounds are pretty ordinary, although it's still a week out so thinks could change (and Asheville is a nice part of the world even if the weather doesn't co-operate).
Aug 14, 2017 11:54 PM # 
So... totality only in America. He was right! Mind you, can He guarantee 2024 and 2045?
Aug 15, 2017 1:01 AM # 
If this one doesn't work out, you could always try Australia in 2028 (or New Zealand, although if you're looking for a high chance of clear skies, Dunedin in July probably wouldn't be at the top of my list).
Aug 15, 2017 1:28 AM # 
I tried to persuade Swampfox to have Laramie Range orienteering this coming week, with a rest day on Monday for eclipse viewing, but that didn't happen. So I'm driving Stephen back to college (JMU in Harrisonburg VA) next weekend with a detour to wherever the forecast is good, south of Knoxville if that looks workable, with fingers crossed for the traffic. And somewhere between Illinois and Georgia if the forecast calls for it.

My college roommate is also heading to Casper. And the guy in the next cubicle to me at work is driving his college sophomore daughter to Clemson -- the centerline passes through the parking lot next to her apartment.

Vermont in 2024 is probably going to be easier for me to get to.
Aug 15, 2017 3:13 AM # 
Unless I move, my home will be int he path of totality for the Monday, April 8, 2024 eclipse. OCIN will tentatively plan to host Flying Pig XXVIII orienteering competition on April 5-7 of that year, with the event sites in or very close to the path of totality. Of course, our chances of cloud-free skies at that time of year are less than optimal.
Aug 15, 2017 10:49 AM # 
I remember being in the path of a total eclipse of the sun back in the late 50s or early 60s - the one that had Joanie Mitchell (or was it Carly Simon?) singing about Nova Scotia, I think. There were so many warnings about not looking directly at the eclipse that I think I'm still traumatized. Anyway: be careful out there.
Aug 15, 2017 6:30 PM # 
I'm driving up to Oregon. We have a room in Weed, CA for Saturday night and Monday night. We have paid for a Sunday parking space and Monday breakfast in Madras, OR. The weather forecast there is looking great!
Aug 16, 2017 1:24 PM # 
Who will be in Carbondale, IL? Both Eclipses cross a point just to the SW of town.
Plus there are a few O Maps in that region somewhere out there. Seems like quite a few people are heading down to Hopkinsville, KY where the full experience will be 2 min 40s long.
Aug 16, 2017 9:02 PM # 
Stanley, ID, is right on the center line of totality. What a fantastic place that would be to view the eclipse! Current forecasts look really good for that area (less good for SC but we're committed to it...).
It was Carly Simon who sang "you flew your Lear jet to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun" in You're So Vain. I have no idea when that eclipse was and I am too lazy to look it up.
Looking forward to 2024 already!
Aug 16, 2017 9:08 PM # 
Our house and the university where I work are both in the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse. If I had known that two weeks ago, I might have bailed on going to SC. Of course, the chance of a clear day in Rochester in April are pretty low....
Aug 16, 2017 11:11 PM # 
According to Wikipedia:
Two solar eclipses ("Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun") were visible from Nova Scotia in the early 1970s, on March 7, 1970, and July 10, 1972. Simon said she wrote the song in 1971, so she likely referenced the one from 1970.
There's more analysis here, which makes the answer a little less clear.
Aug 17, 2017 6:56 PM # 
I guess there was no chance she picked Nova Scotia because she needed four syllables and the date was of no importance?
Aug 17, 2017 9:57 PM # 
Manitoba has four syllables and rhymes... But why would she go to Manitoba...Nova Scotia is more romantic. ;-)
Aug 17, 2017 10:15 PM # 
Per this map, smittyo might get the best look.

(Green = unobscured by clouds, red = completely obscured)
Aug 18, 2017 12:34 AM # 
Nova Scotia doesn't even scan right. (But, then, neither does Saratoga...)
Aug 18, 2017 1:51 PM # 
So...any hiking places to recommend near Blairsville?

Edit: Looking at Guy's map, maybe further west is a good idea.
Aug 19, 2017 12:30 PM # 
My parents took us to Nova Scotia for the 1972 eclipse. No Lear jet but it was extremely cool.
Aug 19, 2017 5:46 PM # 
As people head for open sunny areas to view the total eclipse, there's a very cool sight that you may miss if you aren't looking for it - during the partial eclipse, find an area with some good forest cover, and watch the ground - the tiny gaps in the canopy turn the normal little flecks of sunlight into thousands of crescent shaped suns on the forest floor. I happened to be in the woods doing mapping work during our last partial eclipse and it was truly an awesome spectacle. This is also a great way to experience the eclipse if you can't make it into the path of totality or didn't get your eclipse glasses in time.
Aug 20, 2017 7:22 PM # 
The traffic wasn't bad driving up to Casper early Sunday, but the smoke from BC and Montana fires was. It's slowly dissipating. Clear overhead.
Aug 20, 2017 10:26 PM # 
Traffic was fine getting to Knoxville, forecast for tomorrow looks pretty good.
Aug 21, 2017 2:50 AM # 
It looked like there were some backups at I-75 and 471 southbound at the Ohio River (Cincinnati); but two additional southbound lanes should be open tomorrow. However northbound after the eclipse could be a real bottleneck - 2 lanes of the bridge will remain closed for 3 or 4 more days. The Cincinnati bypass 275 looked good all day on both sides of the city.

I-65 showed backups part of the day coming into the north side of Louisville, but the Ohio River bridges there remained free flowing. I-65 southbound also had construction delays southbound at Elizabethtown, south of Louisville.
Aug 22, 2017 12:29 AM # 
Thanks Mike Minium for your suggestion.
Aug 22, 2017 3:10 AM # 
Fantastic skies in Athens, TN. Less fantastic is our flight still not having left Atlanta. Grr. Was supposed to be homemade by now.
Aug 23, 2017 12:25 AM # 
Knoxville TN was great too, just got home after a very long drive...
Aug 23, 2017 6:11 AM # 
Watched it with Betsy and my sons (Kyle and Damon, some of you knew them when they orienteered as kids but alas rarely any more) and DIL Kate, from a wonderful spot near the top of a small mountain on the east edge of the Cascades near Mt Jefferson southeast of Portland. Great advance scouting by Kyle. Absolutely perfect weather, not a cloud and the wind was just right to keep away the wildfire haze of the days preceding and following.

I had been waiting for that moment since I went to the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec in July 1972 to see the eclipse that Bash mentioned--which turned out to be a touch too far west, it clouded over 15 minutes before totality and we hadn't prepared, physically or mentally, to be mobile.

Before that, I had been a freshman in college in the Boston area in March 1970 when a total eclipse caught bits of the Southeast U.S. coast, then offshore to catch Nantucket before it hit the mainland again at Nova Scotia. I talked myself out of going to Nantucket on the grounds that the odds of it not being clouded out were given as 30%, plus the ferry would presumably been a mob scene, plus no camping allowed on Nantucket (ever). Should have dealt with the logistics and gone, because it was a crisp clear day; hindsight!

Only 7 years until the next convenient total eclipse. Maybe I can get Ellen, my daughter, to come along for that one; very inconveniently, her brother-in-law's wedding was just before this eclipse, in England.
Aug 23, 2017 7:48 AM # 
Absolutely perfect view from Sweetwater, TN. One of the most memorable things I've seen in my life. Traffic headed back north on I-75 was soul-crushing, but still worth it. I'd do it again without hesitation.
Aug 23, 2017 1:40 PM # 
Some pictures from Winnsboro, SC:

Well worth the long trip to SC! We stayed a little outside the strip of totality and so only had a little driving on Monday (an hour or so each way). The traffic was fine other than near a school that was letting out; we deliberately picked somewhere that we thought wouldn't be as crowded and avoided the interstate. The park we picked off a map had a nice mix of trees and open, with a pleasant number of people - not crazy crowded, but plenty of others around. We got there just as the partial eclipse began and had no problems getting a parking spot. And even the weather cooperated - it looked like it was clouding up as we drove down, but then it cleared off beautifully not too long after we got there.
Aug 23, 2017 3:31 PM # 
We picked tiny Table Rock State Park, a little ways northwest of Greenville SC. The park filled up and closed its gates around 10 a.m. There was an enthusiastic crowd on a big grassy field by the lake, with trees for shade around the edges. As the eclipse began, the sun was in and out of clouds and it wasn't looking too good, but a totality-sized hole in the clouds appeared at exactly the right time, with great viewing and great cheering. No noticeable traffic delays getting in or out, and we were back in the DC area around midnight.
Aug 23, 2017 4:08 PM # 
My brother-in-law went to Wyoming...
Aug 23, 2017 5:10 PM # 
It seems like a lot of places had good viewing weather. As arthurd mentioned, we got lucky on the clouds in Winnsboro. My parents had great weather in western Nebraska, when they decided Casper was going to be too crowded.

I'm interested to hear from Peggy how it was in Charleston - both the clouds and how bad the traffic was.
Aug 23, 2017 6:28 PM # 
Maybe she's still stuck there :) . I can think of worse places!

I have a couple of friends that missed it in SC because of clouds - hopefully Peggy wasn't one of them!
Aug 23, 2017 10:04 PM # 
I was near Carbondale, IL not far from the longest duration location. We got a good view of the corona, too, and hiking in the area was nice. We watched by a lake, so could swim while waiting for totality to cool down in the hot weather. Will probably view it from the same location again in 7 years.

Traffic made the 7 hour drive home an 11 hour trip.
Aug 23, 2017 11:02 PM # 
I saw the elusive "shadow bands" at Tugaloo State Park on the GA/SC border. The totality was awesome.
Aug 23, 2017 11:40 PM # 
I was near Sweetwater, TN, but for a couple of reasons decided to stay up in Concord, closer to Knoxville and closer to the edge of the band, so we had a bit shorter totality. Cloudless sky, the bugs went nuts for a few minutes, the uncomfortably hot temperature got very nice for about a half hour and the shadow bands were intense, looked like the ground was crawling with ghost snakes. One advantage of staying where we did was that we beat the traffic. We hit the road at about 3:30, before the partial was over and could see the red jams on the highway behind us on the phone app.
Aug 25, 2017 3:41 AM # 
It is amazing. I took this picture in South Carolina near the shore.
Aug 25, 2017 3:56 PM # 
I'm jealous of the totality shots, and vow to get there in 7 years. But we had some fun hanging out in PA, putting together a viewer, and doing the usual shadow tricks, etc. My 'max cover' (75% or so?) shot:
Aug 25, 2017 8:10 PM # 
Zan & Jonas flew in - weather cooperated. We drove 1 hour SW of St Louis to Val Pilliod's (former orienteer) farm where they cut a field and even rented a Porta-Potty for us! 2 minutes before totality, one heavy cloud blocked the sun, then clouds dissipated just in time. Awesome totality for 2:40.
Aug 26, 2017 1:03 PM # 
We (i.e., Nadim) watched the weather closely and the forecast on Monday wasn't looking good for Charleston. We contacted our friends (the family of one of Max's oldest & best friends), whom we were going to meet in a stadium in Charleston, and we all agreed to drive inland toward Columbia. We ended up at a small historic site just east of there, quite lovely, with trees for shade, food trucks, live music, and a big open area for viewing. We had fantastic clear-sky views of the eclipse, which even the kids were impressed with.

I don't know how TomN got back to DC so fast. We ran into bad traffic on I-95 despite avoidance tactics, and didn't get home until 3 (12-hour drive). Totally worth it though!

By the way, I wrote a blog post about the eclipse a few months ago, and in my research I found that the eclipse itself helps reduce cloud cover, by ~20-40%. So that helps explain some of the clear views! I saw photos later of the place we were going to go, and they experienced the same thing, though just enough to see the eclipse itself, apparently.
Aug 26, 2017 1:09 PM # 
jvincent: while I was driving (sitting...) on I-95 I mentioned to Nadim that the traffic was "soul crushing."
The only thing that helped was knowing in advance it was coming, and knowing that the majority of the traffic had just experienced the same thing we had, so it was a shared adventure/annoyance.
Aug 27, 2017 12:09 AM # 
@peggyd: Did you consider spending the night with your friends and heading home the next day?
Aug 27, 2017 1:01 AM # 
Peggy- We had accepted the fact that traffic was going to be unlike anything we had ever experienced. So when we breeezed straight into Sweetwater the morning of the eclipse, we already felt like we were ahead of the game. We knew that the trip out would be bad, but it was really much worse than anything I have ever seen. And I have sat on the beltway for hours! I normally would have lost my mind at some point, but the feeling I had from witnessing the eclipse made all of it go away. We drove as far as we could (just short of Bristol) stayed the night and did the rest the next day. My initial plan six months ago was to go down 95, but as the event got closer, I was intimated by the traffic predictions.
Aug 27, 2017 5:31 PM # 
GuyO ... never really considered. Low on leave (and I had been scheduled to work Tuesday at 0200; thankfully I switched that!) and I hated that the kids would miss another day of camp that I'd already paid for, and then have to pay more $ on top of that for a hotel.
Certainly would have been more pleasant! But whatever, we survived, and we usually remember the good things much better than the unpleasant. Overall it was a really good weekend and I'd do it again in a heartbeat, even knowing how bad the traffic would be.
Aug 29, 2017 11:12 PM # 
@peggyd, OMG, I had no idea. We went I-26 through Tennessee to I-81 to I-66 and it was just trucks and construction zones (and a need for food) in our way. About 10 cars ahead of us getting out of the park and that was it.
Aug 30, 2017 3:04 AM # 
It took us 14.5 hours to get back to Weed, CA from Madras, OR after the eclipse. The same drive only took 4 hours on the way there. The worst part was a really bad backup prior to the merging of traffic coming in on Highway 58 from Eugene. In that section we took 3 hours to go about 11 miles.

This discussion thread is closed.