Monday, April 8, 2024

It's Rapture Day

It's Eclipse Day at last. Given all the pre-event hype, I figure the actual eclipse may feel a tad anti-climactic. At this point here in Arkansas (we've been snowbirds in Hot Springs since December) the sun is still shining. There are high, thin clouds but the tv weather folks keep re-assuring us those clouds are high enough, thin enough, and scattered enough that totality will still be fully visible. We shall see.

The S.O., the Younger Daughter and I are equipped with the suggested eclipse glasses. Kroger started selling them before Christmas. Ditto tee-shirts and other memorabilia. We bought the glasses but, frugal people that we are, decided to wait until the tee-shirts go on sale for a lot less than they were selling for the last time I checked a price tag. That should start happening sometime later this afternoon. The partial starts here in about half an hour, totality a little before 2 p.m., and I figure half price tee shirts start about the same time. 

Lost in the Bozone has a post up about eclipse fever in Maine. Apparently traffic to reach the places where totality is guaranteed has become a bit messy. Maybe. According to the Arkansas DOT traffic counts were up this past weekend (one assumes out-of-state people travelling to hotels or campgrounds) but I am as usual skeptical. There's been a lot of talk abut how insanely congested Hot Springs might be thanks to the eclipse but when we were downtown on Saturday things looked like any good weekend now that tourist season (and gorgeous weather) has arrived. The National Park Service had an event happening on Arlington Lawn at the end of Bathhouse Row that looked like it had a decent crowd but no more than one would expect on any lovely, sunny day in a prime tourist location. 

One of the things that struck me in the lead up to the eclipse is just how many places seemed to believe that the world was going to beat a path to their specific location. While we were in Texas in January, we saw ads all over the place touting the wonders of reserving an RV space at the Llano airport (where the hell is Llano, you ask? I have no clue. Somewhere northwest of Johnson City and Marble Falls, I guess, because the advertising signs were along US-281 going north). You've really got to be a little strange about being sure of being in the path of totality if Llano, Texas (reachable, incidentally, only via state highways, no actual US-anything if Google Maps can be believed), strikes you as being the perfect place to park your motorhome. I never did believe the official paranoia about huge crowds, massive traffic jams, et cetera. And for sure having Governor Shuckabee declare an official Arkansas state emergency for today did nothing to persuade me there was any cause for concern. 

The Younger Daughter tells me that was a lot of discussion at work about how much of a headache the eclipse was going to create for the Forest Service. Personnel who had been at other national forests the last time there was a major eclipse said it was no big deal. Everyone imagined gazillions of visitors damaging resources and shedding trash wherever they went but it didn't happen. I'm thinking this event will be similar. Lots of people all assuming their specific location is going to be mobbed with people when the reality is the path of the eclipse covers 13 states and is pretty damn wide. People have a lot of choices of where to go, and for many it's not actually that far from home. All things considered. I am not surprised to see news items this morning saying that the hordes of visitors did not materialize in the Texas Hill Country (an area well worth visiting at this time of year even without an eclipse; March and April are the best months to be in Texas). No doubt there will be similar news briefs and after action reports as it sinks in that the anticipated (hoped for?) thousands of visitors at any one site were at best hundreds.