In the Path of Solar Eclipse Totality

Aug 22, 2017

KSMU's Michele Skalicky traveled to the path of totality for Monday's solar eclipse. She shares her experience.

Monday morning, three hours before the start of the solar eclipse, my family and I dragged chairs and a cooler to a sunny spot overlooking Winegar Lake at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Scrivner Road Conservation Area near Russellville in Cole County.  It was a long, hot wait to see the solar eclipse in the band of totality.

About 50 others joined us there—still more were watching from other places on the conservation area—people from all backgrounds and political beliefs drawn together to witness something few ever get to see.

Jeff Matthews brought his family and a neighbor 8 ½ hours from Tyler, Texas just to see the eclipse.

"I was at a committee meeting," according to Matthews,  "and someone said, 'you know, I'm going to the eclipse," and I said, 'well, that sounds like a really good idea.  I'm going to go, too."

His wife, Amalie, kids, Lucy and Kate, their cousin, Annie Vieau and friend Beya Medellin were excited as they got out of the van and got ready for the big event.

"I just think it's so wonderful that we can be here...I want to see the stars come out.  To see the stars in the daytime would be amazing," said Amalie.

"It's going to be really cool to see it like night but in the middle of the day, I guess, so that would be kind of neat.  I'm kind of excited for it to look like a full moon cycle's happening," said the Matthews kids.

Helen Sinner came to the Scrivner Rd. Conservation Area from nearby Camdenton.

"You don't get that many opportunities to see a total solar eclipse.  I've seen a partial before in Costa Rica.  We're so close, why miss it?  That's just crazy," said Sinner.

Debbie Blair, from Linn Creek, came to the area with her friend, Helen.

"Those once in a lifetime experiences are opportunities that you can't miss.  It's going to be spectacular. and it's going to get a little chilly, which we could use right now," she said.

Tom Schlatter was the first one to set up at Winegar Lake.  He arrived a little after 8 with his two grown children—one who had flown in from San Francisco for the eclipse.  Schlatter was most excited about one thing.

"The full glory of totality.  I want to see the corona.  That's what I want to see," he said.

One of the things I found more interesting:  as totality neared, the insects that are active during the day went quiet.  And slowly, nocturnal insects began their chorus

As totality neared, the excitement was palpable.  Finally, the moment everyone had waited for, arrived.

The Matthews family from Texas watched the eclipse from a spot along the lake.

Reporter:  "Guys, was it worth it?"  Matthews family:  "absolutely."  Reporter:  "What did you think?"  Matthews family:  "I thought it was going to be actually nighttime, but when the sun came back out, man it looked like a spotlight was coming down." 

"I actually liked the progression looking at the lake,"  said Amalie Matthews.   Her husband, Jeff, chimed in, "looking at the lake and watching the lake get dim and then back to light within two minutes." 

"And then the cicadas coming out," said Amalie.  "Yeah, it was totally worth it.  That was one of the most awesome things I've ever seen."

Tom Schlatter wasn’t disappointed either.

"It was awesome," he said.  "We didn't see the shadow bands but then we didn't waste too much time looking for that.  We didn't see the diamond ring on the way in, but on the way out we definitely saw it." 

"Did anyone see the Baily's beads?" he asked his kids.  His son didn't see the beads, but his daughter did. 

Kaj Erickson watched the total eclipse with his girlfriend, Annie Rosin and her family.  The astrophysics major from the University of Minnesota described the experience.

"I was terrified, honestly," he said.  "I've never seen anything like that.  That was amazing, but it was very cool.  It was bizarre."

While he knew the sun would come back, he said, it was unnatural and not something you ever see.  His girlfriend, also a University of Minnesota student, was equally awed.

"I, like, let out an involuntary yelp when it happened," she said.  "I was like, 'oh my gosh.  That's it.  I've seen graphics of what it should look like, but the actual eclipse was so much more incredible than I was, like, ready for, I think, and it happened so fast and everything around--there was like a 360 sunset happening.  Yeah, it was incredible."

After totality, which lasted only a little more than a minute, daylight returned all too quickly.  I found myself wishing I could have just a little more time in totality.  Soon after it was over, everyone packed up their gear, loaded up their cars and drove away to resume their own lives but now with one, spectacular shared experience.