Eclipse Adventure

August 25, 2017

Eclipse Adventure

This story all started about six months ago.

We discovered that there was to be a full solar eclipse!  Since the viewing area where we could see the totality of the eclipse was only a four hour drive away, we decided to take a road trip.

At just after midnight, in the wee hours of August 21, 2017, we loaded the last of the snacks, water, and spare clothes into the van and began our journey.

About 5:30am we pulled into a truck stop next to a Shoneys and woke everyone up in turns.  Lucas was already up, racing around the van expelling some magical two-year-old energy.  Mommy took Lucas and Jillian to the potty where, on the way out, Lucas spotted a policecar and shrieked “Wow!  Police car!  Cool car!”

Owner of said car (a tall, probable ex-football linebacker) growled playfully, “you noticing my car, buddy?”

Lucas played shy for a few seconds, then said, “Policecar, where green men?”  (This almost stumped me… until I realized this officer had a black uniform and our St Johns County officers wear green!) So I told Lucas this policeman wore black clothes instead of green, and yes, it was his car.  Lucas grinned at the officer, “police car!”

“High five for my cool car?” The officer grinned.  Lucas screamed “High five!  CAR!”  This made everyone laugh.

Since we were less than 5 miles from Santee State Park, our original destination, we found star constellations, played guessing games, and chatted about the science behind eclipses.

Finally, tummies growling like we had swallowed starving lions, we joined the small mob that entered the Shoneys as the sweet hostess unlocked the doors.  Even Lucas’ policeman friend had mentioned that it was a great spot for breakfast.

Breakfast was yummy!  Lucas’ new food word is “disgusting!” (Lucas was eating an apple and someone said “don’t eat the seeds, they are disgusting” so Lucas has this new word on continual repeat.)  Lucas would taste something, say “dis-gust-ing!” and chow down on said food item.  Lucas seems to think “disgusting” means “yummy.”  (Our waitress caught this two or three times and tried not to let everyone see she was giggling.)

Sip of chocolate milk.  “DISGUSTING!” Big grin and he drained the cup.  A mouthful of bacon.  “DISGUSTING!” and the rest of the bacon vanished from his plate, Christina’s plate, and Mommy’s plate. (We were his left and right neighbors.)  The girls would say “Mmmm!  Yummy!” in an attempt to make Lucas follow their example.  But Lucas is at the stuck-on-one-word-for-weeks stage.  Finally he heard the vroom of a big truck.  “BIG TRUCK” and that was the end of “disgusting” for a while.

We ended up in a huge parking lot next to a giant waterslide and pool complex about a mile from the Dollar General and Food Lion down a lovely sidewalk bordered with assorted wildflowers, quaint houses and yards, and huge pine trees.  There were a few scattered vehicles with others camping out in the wide open space.  The city hall had a much larger audience (an entire field of cars!) as they were doing music and entertainment leading up to the eclipse.

Including finding this almost 4 inch insect!

After a full morning of games, exploring, and resting, the moon began to slowly cover the sun!  Lucas napped up to the last ten minutes before totality.  It was amazing!  At first, we could barely tell through our dark glasses that anything was different, but within the next few glances, the girls cried out things like “it looks like a pac-man!” and “it’s an eye from the science book!”  We had read legends from various places and their favorite was one where the sky dragon swallows the sun but it burns the dragon up and reappears.

Through the glasses, half of the sun was gone.  Everyone jumped up to look again.  Between peeks, we hid from the ninety-seven-degree heat by ducking into the van with all the windows open, explaining and discussing the phenomena as it was happening.  Then it happened.  The air began to cool.  The colors of the cars and grass lost their vibrancy.  We grabbed our glasses. This glance was a few minutes before the total eclipse.  All of the sun was shadowed except for a sliver of a crescent.  The dark came.  Lucas had finally woken up and was playing with rocks.  All the girls and Mommy and Daddy got him to look at the sun – he was hooked!  He pointed out the stars (two visible planets in the sky) and the fireworks (lightning in the distance) and “Puppies!” (three or more dogs howling and whining)  For what seemed like an eternity, we listened to birds and insects who perceived it was night time.  Everyone was excited but quiet.  Then the shadow started to ease off.  The entire parking lot exploded in applause, whistles, and exclamations – praise, thanking God for letting the light come back.  Children danced!

We loaded up our van and headed out.  We excitedly replayed our video recordings, discovered stars in our photos of the total eclipse, sang fun songs, and chatted on and on about the fun experiences of the day.  Everyone agreed seeing the total eclipse was well worth the half-day drive.  We even started making plans to road trip to the next one!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Florida Weather

June 7, 2017

Florida Weather

Today was normal weather for northeast Florida.  Meaning, when driving over the 312 bridge, we left a vicious thunderstorm and emerged under the sunny blue morning sky!  On the way back 30 minutes later, to our left was pouring rain and to the right was partly cloudy.  Off I95 and 16, there were waves of torrential downpours.  The Walmart parking lot was a temporary lake.  A low-riding car crawled through Lake Walmart with wheels nearly covered!  Fortunately, an escaping toddler had a mother with leopard reflexes and Mom prevented said toddler from a plunge into Lake Walmart.

If you don’t like the current weather, wait ten minutes (or maybe less, we can go from parched to flooded in less time than it takes to read this article).

Florida is a wonderful opportunity for weathermen.  You can basically wave your hands over my town and say, “today has a high chance of rain.” This is 99.99% accurate any day between June and November. (If it’s currently sunny, just amend that to “today we have a 10% chance of rain” and you’re covered in case a cloud shows up over your head because nature likes to laugh.)

You know, sometimes they say “its 90 degrees but feels like 104 because of the heat index.” This is to help you understand that walking around in anything more than a bathing suit and flip-flops will result in rivers of sweat cascading down your body – everywhere. (This includes your fingers and toes!) If you’re asking “what does outside feel like?” the answer is always between “surface of the sun” and “broiling.”

Humidity is never zero. This is because we live surrounded on three sides by water – a peninsula. (a finger of land testing the water screaming, “please, cool me off!”)  Humidity means water in the air.  Okay, imagine walking through the rain and you’ve got my town’s humidity level.  Chickens walk around in perpetual fluffiness and when you pet a dog, your hand gets wet.

All in all, this is a great vacation spot!  You leave normal life to visit us so you can experience noon heat, 2pm humidity, and the afternoon torrent of a cloudburst where everyone’s phones go *BEEP* because the instant weather alert warns (ten minutes after the storm has passed) that “Thunderstorms may be imminent.”  After your vacation, you wonder if the reason people actually live here is because the brain cells of the natives are fried.

Honestly, all jokes aside, we live here because we love it!

I love Florida weather – and love my special little town.

As a side note, the best invention ever for Floridians was the air conditioning unit.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart