Taste of totality: What it was like experiencing the total eclipse from Wyoming
August 22, 2017
It didn’t seem real.
Minutes before the total eclipse reached totality, a slight chill filled the air as a surreal shade set in over the vast landscape near Riverton, Wyoming.
Then, as the final sliver of sun disappeared behind the moon, the dozens of spectators who had gathered here in a field removed their eclipse glasses to see the silhouette of the moon dramatically outlined by the corona of the sun.
Mountains turned pink.
Venus came out.
"Oohs" and "ahhs" filled air.
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Josh Young drove 250 miles from Vernal, Utah, to this field to get his taste of totality. He knew pictures wouldn’t do the event justice.
“Instead of looking at a picture on the internet, I came here to get a feeling,” Young said right after the total eclipse faded. “I was in awe of how quickly that two and a half minutes went.”
Other spectators struggled to find the words to describe what it was like to stand in the shadow of the moon.
The Janssen family was impressed.
“It was better than we expected,” Janette Janssen said.
The family, who traveled to Wyoming from Tremonton, Utah, had spent the night with 40 to 50 other campers the night before at a farm around a bonfire.
Other spectators found themselves in this field, smack dab in the bullseye of the path of totality, from places as far away as San Diego and Montana.
Chris Pheiffer, from Los Angeles, said he’s wanted to see a total eclipse since he learned about them in grade school in the 1990s.
For me and a group of friends who came here from Steamboat Springs, the taste of totality was well worth waking up at 3:30 a.m. to make the trek.
It didn’t seem real, we concluded as we made our escape through the state.
And totality was only a piece of a memorable adventure.
When we made the drive to Riverton before sunrise on Monday morning, it was clear we were part of a large migration.
Dozens of headlights moved along Colorado Highway 13 heading north to Baggs, Wyoming.
The crowds we feared were not clogging the roads in the morning, and large fields, set up with rows of port-a-potties outside of Riverton, sat vacant an hour before the big event.
Claiming a spot was easy.
We enjoyed lunch and watched a herd of pronghorn run in the distance before the eclipse.
We lingered and watched the whole event to its conclusion, even after dozens of RVs and cars quietly left.
Escaping the state was difficult.
When traffic came to a standstill, which spanned for miles after the eclipse, we took a detour on a 60-mile-long dirt road through open country.
We were tired but in awe of what we had seen the entire car ride back.
And when we finally got cellphone reception hours later, we looked up when we could expect to get our next taste of totality.