This weekend I joined millions of Americans from the north and south as we converged on the central corridor of the United States to witness a solar eclipse. Almost immediately after the eclipse ended, about 98% of those people turned around and headed for home, causing perhaps the biggest traffic event in U.S. history. From Washington and Oregon, to Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and beyond, social media posts provided updates on the latest prolonged commute times affecting just about everyone.
Sitting in the car all day on the way back to Seattle from central Oregon gives one plenty of time to ruminate about the events of the day. Here were my thoughts, in real-time, on my Great American
Eclipse Migration experience.
3:15pm (3+ hours into the drive home): What was a six-and-a-half hour trip down is going to be a twelve-and-a-half hour drive back, because everyone wants to flee Oregon as quickly as possible.
As usual. 1
4:37pm: Had I known I’d be stuck in the car this long, I’d have put on some lady astronaut diapers. You know, fitting with the celestial theme of the day.
5:45pm: Serious internal debate right now: If I have to pee in a cup, do I put it back in the cup holder? You want stability, so nothing spills until the cup can be disposed of. On the other hand, if I’m thirsty in my semi-exhausted state, I don’t want to accidentally take a swig of the nearest cup that’s within reach.
Verdict: Hold it.
6:02pm: The lines at gas stations are incredibly long right now. Mainly because drivers are abandoning their cars at the pump to go wait in long lines at the bathroom.
Side note: the cup is no longer necessary. But save it for later, just in case.
6:39pm (still in Oregon): I got to see my first solar eclipse today and I’m taking part in what is probably the largest mass human migration in the history of North America. I doubt any of these other drivers can say the same. I feel special and unique.
7:52pm: Now I know how a wildebeest feels.
Can we please find some lions and crocodiles to thin the herd?
9:12pm: If only I had some experience driving 12+ hours and dealing with ridiculous traffic and hordes of people. It would make this mess much more tolerable.
10:26pm: Traffic finally let up at Centralia. Which can only mean that the entire city of Centralia took a field trip to Oregon to see the eclipse. A note to the city council: next time, please charter a few buses instead of having every man, woman and child in your town drive their own cars down. Yes, I’m pretty sure I saw a six-year old behind the wheel of the blue Civic getting off on Exit 81.
I’ve literally never been so excited to enter Tacoma.
I’ve literally never been less excited to enter Tacoma.
11:37pm: A white SUV behind me has his high beams on as we creep forward, bumper-to-bumper, at 5mph. To keep all of us drowsy road-trippers awake, no doubt. Nice to know someone’s looking out for us.
11:42pm: Just got an alert that I sold a Quokka mug. The profit from that should cover the cost of fuel expended over the last eighth of a mile. Or one lady astronaut diaper.
11:43pm: In case you’re wondering, a lidless Quokka mug may not be the best, er… “emergency option.”
11:51pm: In every (rare) open stretch of highway we’ve had tonight, everyone’s driving at least 10-15mph over the speed limit, as if collectively daring the highway patrol to prevent them from making up for lost time. Either that or I dozed off at the wheel and ended up in California.
Anyway, I’d hate to see someone pulled over at this point. Well, maybe a white SUV…
12:16am: Seattle roads, typically the worst place to be of all the spots I’ve driven through on this little road trip, are free and clear. Except where I am, with a little Kia puttering along at 50mph in front of me on I-5. I salivate at the thought of pounding the accelerator to 78mph the moment they move over, but they refuse to do so. Then I look up to see the first cop car in the last eight hours, right behind me. Thanks, little Kia.
12:31am: Home, twelve-and-a-half hours later. Thank goodness I nailed my eclipse shots. That made the whole ordeal worth it.
Update: To see my (better) photos from the eclipse, check out the Solar Eclipse 2017 photo gallery.
- Zing! Go Dawgs! ↩