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Final Bits on the Eclipse Trip

my wife looks through eclipse binoculars at the moon transiting across the sun

It took two grueling days to return home from Texas. The day of the solar eclipse was a bit all over the place. To start, cloud cover forecasts for most of Texas were horrible. From the moment we left our final visit to Crude Coffee in Fort Worth, Valerie was checking cloud forecasts from multiple weather data sources for various cities along the path of totality. Ultimately, we had nearly 3 minutes of totality at the Arkansas Welcome Center over the border from Texarkana. It was terrific. It was as amazing as I remembered, and my family loved it. Everybody agreed it was with the trip.

After that everything seemed fine - the rest of the ride through Arkansas was going smoothly enough until we approached West Memphis. I should have been prepared for this—I’ve been stuck in post-eclipse traffic before—but I was still caught off guard because of the bit I didn’t consider. The Mighty Mississippi. There are only so many crossings of this great river, and just two at that heading into Memphis, Tennessee. Both of them were absolutely jammed with traffic, and it took us nearly 3.5 hours to travel our last 30 miles. Our hotel was this neat, quirky glass tower in the suburbs (grand views of office buildings and parking lots from our 22nd floor room) that I called the “Disco Can”, but we really just stayed there for a short night’s sleep.

The next day, April 9th, was simply a long day in the car riding from Memphis back to Richmond. We made decent time, but had so many miles to ride. We stopped at our first ever Buc-ees which was, to be honest, a horror show for me. But the kids liked it.

a bronze statue of a stupid beaver mascot with a black reading Sevierville, TN

With the time change on the way back, however, it felt like forever by the time we stepped out of the car back at our house. Everybody slept in late the next day (the kids had a day off from school anyway, and Valerie and I had scheduled days off), and by the time I was awake I was distracted by getting back on my bike and transitioning from vacation mode to work mode. So here we are, about a week later, well after everyone finished talking about the eclipse.

It was a good time, though! If I did it all again I may have flown and rented a car. This was a bit much for me in the time we had, and it would likely have been worth the money to have those extra two days of fun out of town instead of in my car on interstate highways. But we all had a nice vacation anyway.