in the path of totality :: wonder and awe

Before we get too far on this side of the recent eclipse, I'd like to share our experience.  We are lucky to live very close to the path of totality for this amazing event, and so of course we traveled just a little ways to see it.

We drove 2 hours from home with big plans of hiking up to the top of a bald along the Appalachian Trail to witness the big event.  Getting there that morning was easy enough (to the trail crossing at the road anyway), however, about 300+ cars were already parked all up and down both forest service roads accessing the trail for a good 1/2 mile+ in either direction.  Cars were nearly tilted on their sides they were so precariously parked.  We naively thought that not that many people would care to hike a few miles to see the eclipse.  And we certainly hadn't expected so many to have gotten there the day (or two) before to set up camp.  Silly us.  So, we continued on and ended up parked along the side of Nantahala Lake with a fun and interesting mix of folks.  

We passed some roadside hours with snacks and walks and small talk with others gathered there.  We watched as the moon's shadow crossed the sun.  We took note of the really quite endearing little crescent moons dotting our shirts, our faces, the car.  It got dusky, then an eerie sort of yellow-dark, like nighttime lit with bright street lamps. We heard the crickets come out and everything else hush as we approached totality and then........... WOW.   

I had been feeling overwhelmed by the 'bigness' of it all for the better part of the prior week, and watched videos showing me what to expect, but still......... WOW.  I choked up.  It is in no way a stretch to say that I was profoundly moved.  I spent a handful of seconds taking pictures and spent the rest lying on a quilt on the roadside snuggled up with my girl and holding my love's hand (he was actually in the road) with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.  It made me feel small, so small, and connected to others, to all humans I suppose, in good, good ways.  It was mystical and magical and I felt like I was finally able to really see the sun as the star that it is.  And during those minutes, all the other news, that great big pile of awful and injustice and sorrow and struggle that we as humans are creating and witnessing and carrying in places near and far....... all of it seemed so small too.  I know it isn't.  But for those moments some kind of ancient something else was in charge and I'd like to think it put us a bit in our places. 

We left shortly after and the drive that took us 2 hours in the morning took 6 post-eclipse.  After crawling maybe 25 miles in 2+ hours, we ditched the main road and took back roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way home.  I'm not one for prolonged car time, but that 2 minutes and a handful of seconds rocked my world in such a big way that I'd spend all day in a car to see it again in a heartbeat.  I'm already thinking ahead to 2024, and wondering where we could land ourselves for a few days...

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