The Road to Totality

The Best Photos of Yesterday’s Eclipse, and the Journey To Get Them

August 22, 2017 Photo Essay By

Yesterday’s total solar eclipse proved to be a special kind of adventure, for both the nation as a whole and all those individuals who made the effort to see it. From Oregon to South Carolina — the path of totality — millions of freshly anointed eclipse chasers sought out the requisite eclipse glasses, feverishly studied weather reports and battled traffic to get themselves into position. Many took photos; most simply basked in the otherworldly glow of this rare astronomical phenomenon.

My own adventure began last Sunday as a chance to try out some adventure-friendly machines; namely, the Audi Q7, towing an Airstream Sport trailer. I crossed Pennsylvania, picked up the trailer in Ohio and proceeded across Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska on the way to Denver, where I’d pick up my family at the airport. The Sport is among the smallest and lightest Airstreams, but still a not-insignificant 4,000 pounds, fully loaded. The Q7 pulled it effortlessly, courtesy of its 333 horsepower V6, and it felt as smooth going down the highway as an unladen version. It’s always a thrill to simply pull into a park and sack out in the trailer instead of having to book hotel rooms — especially when your night is punctuated by the kind of terrifying thunderstorms Nebraska enjoys on a regular basis. But while touring the Airstream factory, I saw them tornado-testing a trailer, and felt confident I’d survive the night dry and upright.

After collecting my crew in Denver, we motored north to Wyoming to explore Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and the trapped-in-the-past town of Dubois, where we settled in to observe the eclipse from a hilltop outside of town. We scrambled up the craggy path to the summit in the Q7, unfurled telescopes, cameras, binoculars, eclipse glasses, camp chairs and plenty of cheese and crackers. And waited.

The eclipse began with the sun taking a little nibble out of the Moon, and as that partial-eclipse phase progressed over an hour, the enormity of what we were witnessing sank in. A fantastically huge shadow was racing toward us from Oregon and Idaho, cooling the atmosphere and darkening the light around us to sunset levels. Finally, totality: the moon completely, and perfectly, obliterated the sun, leaving a black disk with a bright white corona hanging above our heads. The excited chatter from six teenage girls in our party — typically hugely challenging creatures to impress — turned to hushed awe.

The sight, so alien and strange and beautiful, imprinted itself in all our psyches, permanent memories that will never fade. But in a much-too-fast two minutes, it was over. The sun returned. We climbed back into the Q7, eased our way over the rocks and ridges of the hill, and made our way back to the Airstream, which seemed to be valiantly promising that still more adventures would indeed be waiting for us further down the road.

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