I couldn’t help but feel dread and anxiety throughout the summer as August 21st, the day of the highly anticipated Great American Eclipse, drew nearer. Projections of 300,000 people in our tiny mountain town, the pressure of selling out Outpost’s portfolio at premium prices, and the wild rumors swirling around just made my wife and I want to leave town for the event.
The week leading up the eclipse, similar fears began to surface in the minds of locals. Many rushed to grocery stores and gas stations to stock up on at least a weeks worth of supplies. Charlotte Yordon, a coworker at Outpost, even witnessed the lady in front of her purchasing $1,200 worth of groceries in one go — no lobster or fancy steaks on that item list, either.
As the days slowly passed, I braced myself for the gridlock traffic and waning telephone and internet services projected to spread through the valley.
We waited… and the traffic never came. Monday through Thursday passed with zero gridlock and services undisrupted.
Rather than calm my mind, the quiet week only added to my fear of impeding chaos. I asked myself if it was possible that everyone would arrive simultaneously over the weekend. But, Friday and Saturday came and went, and conditions remained unchanged. When Sunday rolled around, I grew calmer and somewhat excited for the eclipse, whose path of totality would pass through our small town.
But, no amount of reading or research could have prepared me for the experience of witnessing totality and its aftermath; there are simply no words to describe the emotions I felt during this event. Even now, there are certain feelings it invoked that are hard for me to describe. I can only recount the event and explain what it means to us all now, but it’s hard to put into words what it means to witness complete totality.
The time between the start of the eclipse and totality was an experience in and of itself. The fading, oddly tinted light and otherworldly crescent moon-shaped shadows that appeared helped build anticipation, knowing that totality was just around the corner. At 11:34am, a quick shift from day to night fell upon us as streetlights lit up, house lights left on inside became apparent, and applause and cheers filled every corner of the valley.
Then, a hushed silence swept through the crowd, as if indescribable emotion crept into every one of us simultaneously.
We all love and cherish the natural beauty of this valley. Every day is just another day in paradise for those lucky enough to call Jackson Hole our home. We all expected August 21, 2017 to be just that- another day. It was anything but. Although we may have witnessed this once-in-a-lifetime event separately, we truly experienced it together. Like witnessing and experiencing a traumatic event, we have all been brought closer together by viewing totality as a collective whole. Stories began spreading across town, many expressing surprise that the “hype” surpassed our wildest expectations.
Eclipse-mania has yet to die down. And it will never truly die among those who witnessed the path of totality in our hometown.
Myself, coworkers, friends, and other Jackson locals joke about chasing the next few eclipses to once again experience totality. But, will it really be the same?
What we experienced was truly once in a lifetime: a total solar eclipse over our favorite place in the world, witnessed with our closest friends and family — including my wife, Jane, and daughter, Penelope.
The eclipse helped us remember how connected to each other we truly are. It was anything but just another day in paradise.
A couple snapshots of our team during the event.