April 2024: VT Eclipse Chasing

In August 2017, we stood on the sidewalk in front of our house on a brilliantly sunny day and donned our eclipse glasses (with a spare for neighbor Anne, who joined us) to watch the solar eclipse. It was about 63% here in Boston, and it was still impressive. This year, with Boston further along in the path, at ~90% totality, it seemed a no-brainer to drive a bit north and make it into the path of totality for the solar eclipse. Robert's mother Judy, visiting from the midwest for a couple weeks, joined us on our trip.

Sunday, April 7th, we left Boston after a nice breakfast and drove north. Helen had studied all about eclipses in school, and she was ready. I had plenty of viewing goggles, since the ones I'd ordered originally had taken forever to ship and I'd panicked and bought a second batch--after which, predictably enough, the first batch showed up too.

We stopped at King Arthur Baking for an early lunch, getting in line at their bakery counter at 10:55, so Samantha was pleased they let her order a breakfast sandwich while the rest of us ordered off the lunch menu. Perfect timing!

Then we went to the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences just down the road, where we walked around and toured their songbird aviary, looked at their owls and hawks, and then went into their blow-up mini planetarium for a storytelling hour about Native American eclipse legends and a general star show.

There was also a nature playground Helen loved, and the combination of snow and mud on the ground gave her another opportunity to wear her winter boots, which hadn't seen much usage this year. Grandma Judy bought the kids matching eclipse tee shirts before we got back on the road.

We stopped for an early dinner at Gamebird, a Filipino-fried-chicken-arcade-restaurant, which really did seem to have something for everyone. Their chicken was fantastic (and served with pickles, deviled eggs, and biscuits), and the brussels and lumpia were great. The kids had fun playing video games for a bit, and then we drove on to the Pointe at Castle Hill, where we had two rooms reserved. Robert and Helen swam in the heated outdoor pool for about an hour, while Grandma Judy retired early and Marcus, Samantha, and I played several rounds of Banagrams.

On Monday morning, we ate assorted leftovers and snacks and fruit in the car and drove straight to Montpelier to make sure we got into the path of totality before there was traffic. We waited ages for breakfast at The Skinny Pancake, but my good friend Evonne, who lives just five minutes from there after fleeing NYC during the pandemic, came out and waited with us, and it was a great visit.

After crepes and milkshakes, and a disappointing vegan gravy poutine ("Mom, face it--it's just GROUND UP CARROTS that they're calling a gravy!" Samantha shrieked at me--they had been out of their regular gravy, and possibly I was being overly optimistic about the chances of it working with their vegan gravy, I admit), we took a detour up a steep hill to get a good view of the town, and then ensconced ourselves at Morse Farm just on the edge of town.

They had two-for-one maple creamees (maple soft serve ice cream), hot dogs boiled in maple sap, maple kettle corn, a bathroom, goats to feed, a swing built into a tree on their hill, and a nice sunny lawn to watch the eclipse from.

When we got our minute and a half of totality, it was pretty amazing. The kids were impressed beyond measure, and watchers around us oohed and aahed and applauded. The bats that flew out of the woods during totality were definitely a memorable part. We packed up just about five minutes afterward, though I kept an eye on the sky through our filter as we drove out. It took us about five hours to get home, which was definitely longer than it should have taken, but we heard nightmare stories of people stuck on the road until after midnight.

The video doesn't capture anything, really, except our excitement.

The weather was beautiful--almost 60, sunny, and perceptibly cooler during totality. The entire day was something we will all remember, and I'm glad we were there together. I hear the 2044 one will go through Orlando, Florida, so who knows, maybe Robert and I will be there with the grown-up kids and their partners, and maybe even a grandbaby by then.


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Created: 4/12/24. Last Modified: 4/12/24.