I’ll be ready for the next once-in-a-lifetime eclipse

Next time we have a once-in-a-lifetime solar event, I’ll remember to take my Gazetteer with me for the drive. I sure could have used maps of the dirt roads on the way to and from Monday’s solar eclipse.

They say the total solar eclipse we witnessed on Monday, along with 500,000 of our closest friends, was a once-in-a-lifetime event. But that’s what they said about the last one in the early 80s. But whether or not it really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it was really cool. The only bad thing about it was the traffic it caused.

Most of Wyoming’s roads were basically parking lots all Monday afternoon and evening, and even late into the night. I knew the roads were going to get backed up like a Port-A-Potty at a three-day Garth Brooks concert, but I didn’t want to miss the total eclipse. It was only expected to be total in a narrow strip through the middle of the state, and Cheyenne was in the 98 percent zone. I had to drive a little bit north to get into the 100 percent area.

But like an idiot, I left the house without grabbing my Wyoming Atlas and Gazetteer. This book is fantastic. If you don’t have one, run out and get one right now. It’s not quite as detailed as a topo map, but it does give you much better information than a highway map or an atlas. It shows where land is public or private, and it shows all the dirt roads you can drive on. That’s the part that would have been handy on Monday. Going to Torrington, Highway 85 was bumper-to-bumper. I finally got off and took my chances on the dirt roads, but it would have been nice to have that Gazetteer to guide me so I could have avoided dead-ends.

I think they said the next eclipse like this one will be in 2306 or something like that. If I’m still around, I’ll be sure I have my Gazetteer in hand before I leave the house.