CO-Horts Blog

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Great American Eclipse

Posted by: Curtis Utley Jefferson County

This past weekend my family and I decided to brave the hordes and experience a solar eclipse in its totality. I must admit we were nervous about the trip being a huge waste of time spent idling in gridlock traffic due to all the media hype. I know this was the case for many Coloradans who ventured due North to Wyoming, but not for us. We woke up early on Saturday morning and drove northeast up I-76 to Ogallala Nebraska only slowing down once for the cone zone where I-76 merges with I-80 just past the state line. We camped at Lake McConaughy, my favorite beach in North America, where the sand is white, fine textured and wonderful for squishing between your toes and playing with Tonka trucks. I thought the lake would have been packed to the gills with eager eclipse watchers but alas, there was plenty of room to pitch our tent.
Plenty of room for more tents at Lake McConaughy
My favorite beach in North America, Lake McConaughy

On Monday, still worried about the hordes of people navigating toward the path of totality, we left the lake at 8:00 a.m. to travel 25 miles North to the town of Arthur to watch the twelve O’clock show. Traffic was heavy but moved at the speed limit. Once we reached Arthur we made a game day decision to press North another 2 miles where we could be away from the crowds.
Old Hwy 61 (Right) next to New Hwy 61 (Left)
Ipomopsis longiflora Growing along Hwy 61
We ended up parking and setting up our lawn chairs at the top of a hill on the remains of old highway 61. We then proceeded to test out or Eclipse glasses, lather on sunscreen, play yard games, and discuss the weather.
Christy and Calvin testing the eclipse glasses
Yes, I forgot to mention that we awoke Monday morning to 100% cloud cover. After enjoying 2 glorious bluebird days on the beach we couldn’t even see the sun when we really wanted it to shine! Luckily the clouds burned off around 10:00 a.m. and we had perfect conditions for the main event.
Our total eclipse viewing location

The total eclipse was amazing! One thing I learned is the sky does not go completely dark, more like 10 minutes after sundown, dark enough to see Venus, but not the milky way. What I found very impressive was the 360-degree sunset effect on the horizon, truly a site to see. If you missed being in the path of totality this time I encourage you to put it on your bucket list for the next total eclipse of the sun.     


  1. Super cool video!! We went up to WY and I'm so glad we did. It was truly amazing to see the totality. Trip up was fine, trip back pretty slow going.

    I'm going to have to check out that beach!! - Deryn

  2. Thanks Curtis for the fabulous account of the eclipse. We left Golden at 4:30am and headed for Alliance, NE, it was an amazing experience. As you mentioned, the the 360-degree sunrise was rad! Pretty cool to be out on the NE plains, where nothing really blocked that 360 view.

  3. Glad you enjoyed my state of Nebraska! I experienced totality sitting on my own patio in Hastings, NE!