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Total Eclipse Trip
August 19-26, 2017
by Michael Humphrey

Six Trailblazers (Michael, Andy, Carol L, Heather K, Carol B, Marge) in two cars are to hunt down the total eclipse. We will cross many states in this quest. One car starts in the east valley and one starts from the west valley, we will all meet at the Petrified Forest to start this adventure. For the persons coming from the west valley we stop in Winslow to take pictures “On The Corner” from the song “Take It Easy”.

The statue and the sign.

Winslow has set up a little park here with the characters from the song painted on the wall. The main character has a statue (Jackson Browne) on the corner of Kinsley & E. 2nd St.

We then continue on to the Petrified Forest. We meet the group from the other car here. We take a short tour of the Petrified Forest. The Painted Desert can be seen from here as we stopped at some of the lookout area.

Painted Desert.

There is also some large panels of pictographs here.


We get to stop at the main sites and take a hike around the areas.


We just did a couple of hours here, but you could spend days getting to all the off the road sites. The Visitor Center has many fossils that have been recovered from the area.


We have lunch in Gallup, New Mexico. There is famed place here the El Rancho Hotel, but its best days are behind it now. Take pictures of the hotel, lobby and outside, but do not eat here (Taco Bell is better). When the railroad was big this was the place to stop.

We gas up here and continue on after a very forgettable lunch. We continue on to Las Vegas. No, not Las Vegas Nevada, but New Mexico. This is a nice little town with good places to eat.

The next day is scheduled to be a long boring drive day. We get into Colorado and we spot flashing lights from a cop car up ahead. We slow down and come to a stop. A person was pulled over and is now fighting with the cops. He then decides to make a run for it across all four lanes of the Interstate. When he gets to the fence line on the far side and sees a field that runs for miles, he decides to turn around and run across all four lanes again. Lucky for him both directions of traffic have stopped. When he gets to the other fence line and sees another field that runs for miles. He cannot make up his mind what to do.

The cop that was chasing him does know what he is going to do and body slams the stupid criminal to the ground. The cop then handcuffs the stupid criminal, with a little bit of force. The cops then wave the traffic to continue using the left lane of the interstate. In the back seat of the cop car is another person handcuffed.

If I were him I would claim to know nothing, have seen nothing and barely know the other person. If they were pulled over for a traffic warning, they have now upped the charge to at least a night in jail. We should have videotaped this and put it on the stupid criminals show. We make it to our hotels on the north side of Denver with no other interesting thing happening.

This is eclipse day, due to the large number of persons in town we are in two different hotels. The hotels are close together and we pick up coffee and donuts at our hotel. We leave the hotel early to make sure we get to our eclipse site with plenty of extra time. It is a good thing we did, because Denver decided to go see the eclipse and the interstate is running bumper to bumper.

The other good thing is our hotels were on the far north edge of Denver and we did not have to fight traffic though Denver. In the traffic our two cars got separated and we did not find each other until after the eclipse. The plan was to go to Glendo, Wyoming, exit the interstate there, go west a little ways to the top of a hill to get a good view. My car did that, the other pulled off the exit before Glendo. We both got good spots to see the eclipse, so it all worked out.

Also due to the large number of persons the local cell network was totally useless. Our spot was on an open field that a local rancher was gracious enough to let us use. There were a few cars here, but the field covered a square mile. There was a couple of hundred feet between us and the next car. I got out my inflatable couch, Carol got out the sunglasses, Heather got out drinks and we sat down and ate potato chips.

Not couch potatoes: Heather, Carol, Michael.

We would look at the sun and see how the eclipse was going. We had a couple of hours to spare, before the eclipse got to 80% and you could see differences. The low light caused the image become three overlapping ones when I took a photo when it was near total.

Near total eclipse.

The birds found a tree and the pet dogs moved back to their masters. We now kept a better track of the eclipse as it moved to total eclipse. We would have two minutes in total eclipse. It was interesting to watch the shadow run across the earth toward us and we were now in the total eclipse.

But it isn’t time for sunset!

We took off the sunglasses and could see the stars, the sun’s corona, and the arcs of gas following the sun’s magnetic field. I took a photo during the total eclipse, the black spot in the middle is the moon and the outer corona of the sun is the white.


It was quite an experience with the animals silent, the stars out in the middle of the day and then the sun started to peek though canyons on the moon. Our two minutes are now up and you can see the edge of sun light racing east.

We put our sunglasses back on, but after the total eclipse it is not that interesting. It is more fun to watch all the persons trying to get back to Denver. Our little dirt road has a traffic jam, but we had decided to have lunch here. We then meet the family that has a camper next to us. They are from Germany and have come over for the eclipse. They have a telescope with an artificial eclipse disk, so they can look at the sun even after the totality has ended. We talk with them a while.

The traffic jam has gone from our area, but we can see the interstate back to Denver is overflowing with cars. We pack up and head back to the interstate, good that we are going north, because southbound is a parking lot. As we go north to Sundance for our motel for the night.

The cell network works and we can talk to the other car. They are in a traffic jam getting back to the interstate. We get into a small traffic jam, as some persons went north, then east, before returning south. We are soon out of the traffic jam as we continue north. From the news that night Glendo, a town of 1,000 persons, hosted 100,000 persons this day. I hope they sold many tee shirts and sodas.

We take our time getting up this day. The Devil’s Tower National Monument has a few persons here, the ranger says that it is more than normal, but not like yesterday. One of the reasons I want to do the eclipse was so I could see the Devil’s Tower.

Devil’s Tower.

It is a day’s drive from anywhere, so I could never figure a good reason to be here. It is visible for miles and look just like how the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” showed it.

We park the cars and do the hike the goes around the tower. The park service lets person climb the tower and we can see them going up the cracks between the lava columns.

Don’t let go!

The park service only lets them climb one face, so the rest of the tower is free of people. This face had a staircase/ladder in the past, so the park service considers this to part of the history of the tower.

This lava solidified below ground and cooled slowly making these columns. Carol climbed up next to one of the columns that had fallen.

Watch it, Carol!

You can see that each of the columns is very large.

Time to leave and find a place to pick up our lunch on our way to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The park service has done a good job showing what really happened here. They have added a monument to the Indians that lost their lives here.

The short story is Custer was a very dumb colonel, who did not listen to his orders or scouts. He had enough fire power to win the battle, but left it all back at his base camp. He had the troops to get to a tie in the battle, but split his troops into three parts while the Indians watched.

The true story of George Armstrong Custer.

Only the part that was with Custer died, the other two parts lived. The army had already reduced him in rank from general to colonel long before this battle. Buried in the monument are persons from Custer’s battle until the Vietnam War.

Brave men of the Seventh Cavalry are buried here.

We move on to our hotel in Big Timber, which will let us take the north entry into Yellowstone. Bib Timber has an old jail that was used from 1913 to 1954. It shows how jails in the old west were really done.

Try to escape this one.

Notice the flat iron used for the bars and they are closely spaced. No reaching though the bars to grab something. Flat iron was very common in the west, used for wheel rims, horse shoes, springs and many other things.

Yellowstone north entrance is the original entrance to the park. It has the Roosevelt Gate. The park service has routed the traffic around the gate now.

Roosevelt Gate.

There are some antelope beside the road that we get pictures of. They do not seem to care about us. Our first stop is Mammoth Hot Springs. The water here dissolves limestone and brings it to the surface. White rock is young and colorful rock is older.

Looks like ice, but it’s hot.
Water dissolves minerals and brings them to the surface.

We have lunch at the Roosevelt Lodge. It has a porch with great views of the area. After lunch it is time to get pictures of trees that were buried in past times and petrified.

This was a tree.

You can also see from the hot springs pictures, trees that will soon be petrified. After the petrified trees it is time to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. When you see pictures of multicolored canyon, this is the place that they were taken. On our way over to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone we almost got some stupid tourist pictures.

I’m bigger than you.

A bear was walking in a meadow and some tourists walked into the meadow to get its picture. They got way too close and the bear did a mock charge. Luckily no one way hurt. I used the maximum zoon on my camera, so I was far away. This is the only day it rained on our trip, but the rain was in bursts. The Yellowstone water falls in this canyon.

The Yellowstone water falls in this canyon.

The rain lets us go though some of the shops and see if we needed anything. We did a short hike though one of the geyser basins, but tomorrow will be all geysers.

Don’t let a little rain dampen your spirits.

This is the only time we stay multiple nights in the same motel. The hotels in West Yellowstone are a little overpriced, but they have a very short season to make their money.

On our way into the park we pass this bison going the other way.

The noble bison.

The line of cars behind him was fairly long, but he was not moving over to let persons pass. There were more beside the road eating grass in a meadow. This is our day to hike the geyser basins. We will see Old Faithful from the top porch of the Old Faithful Lodge.

Old Faithful.

The best views of Old Faithful are from the porch, because you can see over the whole area. The one thing that continues to amaze me is the thousands of persons around Old Faithful, but only a handful on the boardwalk a few hundred feet away. The boardwalk is over seven miles long, but has many shortcuts. The boardwalk gets you to all the geysers in the basin. No real up or down hill, but Old Faithful is at the highest elevation.

Firehole Creek that runs through the basin is the water source for all the geysers. We get to see the triple geyser erupt and it is a long duration geyser.

Don’t get too close to the steam.
Triple geyser.

Other smaller geysers erupt as we walk the boardwalk. We get back to the lodge for lunch. It is now time to move on to the next geyser basin. There are a few mud pots in the basins also. There is a hot water pools that is called Fish Basin, because people would put fish into it to boil them.

Fish Basin.

This is our last night here in Yellowstone, tomorrow we start our journey back to Phoenix. We make a quick stop and hike out to see the Yellowstone Arch.

Yellowstone Arch.

There is a lot of Yellowstone that we did not see this trip, but we only had 1½ days here. It would take a week to see all the major sites.

Today we will spend a lot of time in Idaho as we drive south. We stop at the Idaho potato museum for an interesting time and lunch.

Potato farming.

It is amazing how much stuff you can use a potato for. We continue on south to the Great Salt Lake. We make a stop here to drop off Carol, so she can visit family in the area. We stop at the hotel to drop stuff off and then we continue out to the lake to get some pictures and hiking time.

The Great Salt Lake.

We then return to the hotel for a shower and dinner. When we get back from a great dinner, Carol is back.

In the morning Carol’s family feeds us donuts and says good bye. It is time to continue south, to Las Vegas, Nevada. On this trip we get to see two Las Vegas’s. We continue on to Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam.
The new bridge over Boulder Canyon.

We walk around the top of the dam and up to the new bridge and over on it.

The dam is very different when viewed from the middle of the river. After lunch, then it is onward to our last hotel in Kingman. I thought about just driving to Phoenix, but that would have made this a super long day. Time for our last dinner together and we find a nice steak place.

This is our last day on the road as we take US-93 to Phoenix. We have traveled a very long way. We were in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nevada.

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updated May 9, 2020