August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

We took off for Lake McCongaughy on Sunday morning at 7 AM so we could beat the traffic.

It wasn't hard to do.  There was virtually no traffic at all.  We didn't have a single slow down.  We were in 2 cars.  I drove the minivan and had all the kids on the trip - there were a total of 5 kids - plus another friend of mine, Corinne.  Then Bob drove and he had his dog, Ruby, Bonnie and Dad.

We made it to the lake and all the kids decided it was time to get in the lake.

Yes, Skylar played in the sand and water with her cast and no, it is not water resistant.

But she did very well keeping it dry and only a little sand got inside.

After a few hours in the sun and sand, everyone returned to the campsite to cool down in the shade.

We had the beach pretty much to ourselves.  We cooked hot dogs, ran around chasing kids and frogs and finally went to bed at sundown.  

During the late evening and even overnight we had many many people show up and camp around us.  We even had a car get stuck in the sand in the middle of the night.  Dad and the campers next to us helped get them out.

We woke up when the sun came up, immediately took down the tents, ate breakfast and headed out to Arthur, Nebraska to stake out our spot for the eclipse.

As we headed out, we spotted some turkeys...

and some sunflowers.

As you can see in the background, there was a lot of cloud cover and as we started driving away it even started to sprinkle a little.  We hoped the closer we got to Arthur the clouds would clear.

But they didn't.  We arrived in Arthur with no traffic problems by 8 AM.  But there were a lot of clouds.  We asked around and people felt like the clouds would burn off by 10 AM.  We weren't taking any chances so we got back in the car and headed north.  We hoped to find clearer skies before the eclipse started.

As it got closer and closer to the start time, we would stop and check the sun.

Not yet.
So we kept driving.  

Finally, we decided to stop after 69 miles.  The skies were beginning to clear, there were few people around and we wanted to stop and watch the eclipse.

We piled out of the cars

and set up our chairs.  Look at the beautiful clear skies, the wide open field all around us.

As we were waiting, we also watched all the other people arrive, we had a visit from the farmer whose land we were on (please no smoking and clean up after yourselves), watched a lady do yoga in the middle of field, watched some people play volleyball and were visited by a family from Parker.

Then the eclipse started.

As the skies grew darker, the clouds increased, the temperature dropped and the winds picked up.

We were starting to worry about the clouds obscuring our view during totality but luckily, the clouds broke for the 2 minutes.


Starting to move off the sun.

I have a video to add but I need to edit out the end.  It was put down still on recording.

We had watched so many videos and read so many articles, we thought we knew exactly what to expect.  But experiencing a total solar eclipse is different.  The temperatures drop a lot, we were pulling out jackets and towels to get warm.  The winds increased too.  Everyone around us was oohing and awing during totality.  The 360 degree sunset was mesmerizing.  We didn't know where to look - at the sun hidden behind the moon or around us at the sunset.  We weren't in pitch black but it was a different light than we have ever experienced.

As the sun began to come back out, the world around us changed again.  Skylar describes it as having someone shine a flashlight down on you.  

It was sad when everyone around us started leaving immediately after totality.  We stayed, had some lunch and continued to enjoy the eclipse lighting.  We also got to see the cows arrive. There were no cows in the field around us while we were watching the eclipse but all of a sudden a hundred cows showed up all together out of nowhere.  No one called them and there certainly wasn't any new food around.  They hung out looking a little worried and then eventually wandered off.

After a bit, we packed up and headed down the road, it was time to return home.  We decided to head into Alliance, Nebraska to see Carhenge since it was just down the road (20 miles) plus we needed to go that direction to get home.

There had been no traffic on Sunday driving into Nebraska.  There was no traffic Monday morning going to the eclipse but all of a sudden in Alliance - we found the traffic.  We didn't know but there was a large eclipse event at Carhenge and we got stuck in that traffic.  We decided to skip Carhenge and just head home.  The traffic going out of town was at a standstill.  It took us 45 minutes to get from one end of town to the other and onto the highway.  As we were sitting in the traffic, the GPS calculated we would be home at 5 PM (it was 1 PM).

It took us another hour and a half to go 24 miles.  Then when it finally broke free so we could go the speed limit, the GPS calculated we would be home at 7 PM.  We ran out of food on the way home so we had to stop in Sterling, Colorado to get a quick dinner and some gas to make it home.  By then the GPS said we would be home by 9 PM.  Even though we were driving, the GPS made us feel like we were standing still.

We finally made it home after driving for 8 hours, the 4 hour drive to the eclipse took 8 hours to return home.

But was it worth it?  

Well, we are already planning our trip to see the next total solar eclipse in 2024.  To make a very cliche statement - the eclipse was life changing.  We won't miss another total solar eclipse in the US.  

Is there much difference between 90% and totality?  Well, let me ask this - Is there any difference between the beach and the desert?

August 15, 2017

What a crazy day!

We started the day off early with an 8:20 appointment for Skylar to get her cast on.

Before the splint comes off

Nothing on - can you see the swelling?  She was so happy to get the splint off.  We washed her hand really well, she liked that.

We sat in this office for over an hour, waiting for a cast guy to be free to put on the cast.  I had my injection appointment at 9:20 AM. I figured I would have plenty of time.  I had to leave Skylar in the office, go check in for my appointment and then come back. I thought for sure she would be getting her cast on by then.  But she was still waiting.

Luckily, we were to be seen in the same department, just different doctors.  I told the receptionist where I would be and they came and found me for my appointment.

Finally, they called Skylar into the cast room.  He washed her entire arm,

Putting the first layers on.  At this point my nurse walked by, asked if I was ready for my injection and then went to get the room ready.

I snapped a couple more pictures before I had to leave for my appointment down the hall.

I got my injection and returned to Skylar.

He was just finishing up her cast.  I got another picture and out the door we went.  We rushed home to pick up the other kids so I could drop them at the library while I went to another appointment at a different office.

After picking them up again, we headed home for a quick lunch and then Andrew and I had a playdate with a new friend.  We walked down to a creek by their house and the boys played in the water and explored the river banks before we had to head home.

We had to get home a little early because we needed to walk up to the local elementary school to pick up Skylar's best friend.  She was coming over after school for tea time.  When we got home, Andrew got hit in the head by the car trunk as we were pulling out his scooter.

He decided to stay home and relax while the girls and I walked to the school and home again.  We had tea time, then I made dinner and then I went out for Teacher's Night Out with some other homeschooling friends.

Skylar returns next week to re-x-ray her arm and then removal in 5 weeks.  I have a phone appointment to follow up on my injection in 2 weeks and Andrew has a large goose egg on the top of his head.  But I think we are all going to make it.

August 13, 2017

A day...

Today started out pretty uneventful with Andrew and I making pancakes and Skylar making blueberry sauce for the pancakes.

After breakfast and clean up, Cairn and I went to the Tiny House Festival.  We were walking into our 2nd house when I received a phone call from home.

It was Dad calling to say, "I think Skylar has broken her wrist."

I asked if he thought I needed to come home right away or if she would be okay for a little bit.  He had her resting on the couch with some ice and elevated arm.

An hour later, we returned home.  I took one look at her wrist and knew it was broken too.

We got in the car and went over to urgent care. The doctor took one look at her wrist and knew it was broken but he ordered x-rays anyway.

10 minutes later, he was putting a splint on Skylar.

The before picture

First layer on

Forming the protective layer

Wrapping the arm

Cairn calls this the broken bone sisters (since Cairn has broken both her arms, she now has a sibling/sister that has broken something)

We returned home for Skylar to rest.  I will schedule an appointment tomorrow for her to get a cast in a couple days when the swelling starts to subside a little.
We need to get it casted before we leave for the eclipse!!
We spent the rest of the day resting, watering the new trees/bushes, pulling weeds and visiting the neighbors.  I am trying to make an concerted effort to visit our neighbors regularly.

August 1, 2017

National Night Out Block Party

Every summer I want to have a block party so this summer I took advantage of the National Night Out and planned a block party for both sides of our cul-de-sac.  We have lots of new people that moved in so it was a good excuse to invite them over too.

The girls were very busy making cupcakes and they wanted to do a Police theme.

Andrew got to help with frosting the cupcakes.

He finished his police flag first.

We started setting up the tables and chairs around 5:15 PM.  We decided to have the party on our driveway since there was some shade.  The middle of the cul-de-sac was super hot especially with the new black top.

At 6 PM, our first police unit showed up.  These ladies were from the HR substation.  They worked the front desk and investigations.

They had just driven the car off the sale lot so it was brand new and didn't even have a computer in it yet but all the kids got to climb in and check it out.

Everyone on the 2 cul-de-sacs brought a salad, a dessert or a side dish.  There were lots of yummy options for everyone.  Everyone also brought their own meat to grill and we used our grill.

Eventually, a second unit showed up.  I didn't realize that we would get visited by multiple units so it was exciting to see who might show up.

This is the SORT (special operations response team) unit.  They typically work in detention.

This is one of their non-lethal bullets they use to subdue people.  It would definitely hurt.

The kids got to try on some of their gear.

 And a couple parents tried some on too.

The girls made sure they told each unit about the cupcakes and most of the officers took one.  They got a lot of compliments about their cupcakes and decorating.  They were super proud. 

Towards the end of the evening, we had another patrol unit stop by.  They let the kids run the lights and sirens and talk on the PA system.  I am sure the neighbors around us were wondering what all the police activity was about.

Andrew and C got locked up in the paddy wagon.

Thankfully, they were released on their own recognizance.

All the kids tried on the handcuffs too.

Skylar and C in the back of the paddy wagon - they better be upset about being back there.

Time to say good night!!
The block party was a ton of fun.  It was nice visiting with neighbors and with the police.  I will definitely be planning next years party too.