Like many Americans, hubs and I made the pilgrimage to the holy zone of solar eclipse totality, neatly bisecting our country on August 21st, 2017. Newscasters had assured us during the weeks leading up to this that traffic would be a snarled mess. Drive times were expected to triple. A week’s worth of provisions was highly recommended.
Hubs was really looking forward to the trip. I was along for the ride. Pups was just happy to be there.
We headed out on Saturday morning, intending to travel three quarters of the way to our chosen destination and crash at a friend’s place. We would tackle the last part of the journey, sans dog, in the wee hours of E-Day. Hubs had wisely decided not to share with me exactly which wee hour we would be departing. That information was classified as Need to Know only. We both understood it was for the best.
Less than an hour into our three hour journey, I saw a freeway sign declaring,
TRAFFIC TO OR
So far we had been spared any unusually heavy traffic, but I knew that our miles were numbered. So did hubs. I wanted to get a photo of this sign to put in my “Eclipse Album,” which would take up precious space on my Google drive and never be viewed again. I was too slow, though. The sign passed before I could even open the camera app. No worries. It was a long drive; I knew there would be more opportunities.
I was right, there were more opportunities, at least four, maybe five. Each time either I saw it too late, or I didn’t have my phone (which is my camera) at hand, or I couldn’t get the app to cooperate in time, or there was a truck between me and the sign at the crucial moment.
Eventually, the signs changed to:
Around the same time, I began to realize that this casual snapshot had turned into an obsession, not just for me. As we neared our exit, we approached a perfectly placed sign, directly over the center lane. As luck would have it, traffic began to thicken at the same time, creating the ideal situation to grab a perfect photo. I could have gotten it, too, if I hadn’t put away my phone. I just missed it.
I didn’t even have to ask. Hubs offered to get back on the freeway in the opposite direction and come around again so I could get a second chance at it. I accepted that offer. For the next several minutes, my phone never left my hand. The camera app was open and I snapped a random photo every few seconds to make sure it didn’t get bored and go to sleep on me.
We circled around and approached the sign, both of us on high alert. Traffic wasn’t thick enough yet for us to stop, but I had plenty of time to line up the shot as we rolled slowly under it. I snapped several just to be safe. Mission accomplished, we continued on to our destination, satisfied that we had finally captured that pesky sign.
That evening, I scrolled through the photos to choose the best one, but they were all about the same. Glaring orange fragments of letters were scattered across a black background. Some shots showed most of a word, with the rest scrambled. Others were just digital chaos.
I took it as a sign.