Solar Eclipse of the Heart
Having a type A personality can be beneficial at times, especially in my profession, however, it can make it difficult to really relax when I finally have some downtime. This past Friday through Sunday brought tons of lake activities, appointments, and lots of quality time with family – which cut into any potential to catch up on sleep (being my fault completely). After such an action packed weekend, we decided to take the day off Monday to watch the much anticipated solar eclipse. Nerd status. We initially thought Carbondale, Illinois, would be our destination, but after seeing how many people had the same thought, we decided to wing it and find another town within the line of totality in Southern Indiana/Illinois. Spontaneous, right?
Monday morning, I had gotten in the car with my typical to-do list (a long one), which included: finishing planning my cousin’s bachelorette weekend (fun), doing some budgeting/figuring out expenses (not so fun), and cleaning up the data on my computer and phone (not so fun). But, in the spirit of my recent mantra on relaxing and turning off, I put the computer away and sought to take in our trip down the literal road less traveled. Attempts at living out the advice given to others. Whenever I take a day off lately, it is usually related to a doctor’s appointment or an Entyvio treatment, so this was a welcome change.
Stop One: French Lick/West Baden aka the 8th Wonder: Visiting West Baden was like walking into a moment over a century ago, probably because the structure I visited was re-built in 1902. Although it was originally constructed in the 1800s. You enter the grounds to this European-inspired resort on a brick road, lined with trees and street lamps, passing by the formal garden, where groundskeepers were making sure the shrubs were perfectly pruned. There are little pathways throughout the property, leading to various rotundas and structures. The pale yellow hotel is contrasted with intensely green surroundings and its covered porch is lined with white and wicker rocking chairs and giant hanging ferns.
The inside entrance to the hotel is a gorgeous atrium. I went inside to check it out (and cool down because it was almost 90 degrees outside). It has a pretty amazing history which includes ownership lost due to the Great Depression, residency by a Jesuit seminary, a private college, National Historical Landmark status, and in 2007, the reopening of the hotel after rehabilitation by the Cook Group.
Inside, it was so incredibly quiet for such a large space. Henry quickly came in and changed that – letting out one larger than life bark that Alex and I were both impressed with, aka cue the move onto our next destination. Fast forward through driving the grounds of French Lick, Pete Dye Golf Course, and Patoka Lake.
Stop Two: Shawnee National Forest
The whole point of this was to get to the line of totality, where we could see the moon completely cover the sun for less than two minutes, which sounds kind of ridiculous now that I am typing it out. We ended up on the north border of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois – mostly because we could see that our intended spot was being covered by clouds.
It was such a strange experience. As soon as we parked, we noticed it was getting darker. The cicadas were out in full force, bats began flying overhead, the street lights turned on, and we watched intently through our highly sought after solar eclipse glasses (how was there such a shortage?). During totality (see below), it is perfectly OK to remove the glasses and experience the eclipse. The temperature quickly dropped 5-10 degrees, and a little bit over one minute later, the sun peeked around the opposite side of the moon and it immediately began to get lighter. For the next 15 minutes or so, the atmosphere had a strange darkness to it, it felt like you were wearing sunglasses on a bright day.
Suddenly it was over and we had a five hour drive home to endure, which for Alex was much longer than it was for me (he always drives). Taking a break to do this on a whim is somewhat out of character for me, but I would love for it to be more common. It was nice to not have an agenda and to have a change of scenery.
Although my stomach was upset towards the end, it still doesn’t compare to the pains that Monday at work can bring! Totally worth it.