Solar Eclipse Week 2017
Finally arrives at Sandy Beach after his 9.5 mile swim.
Events Around the County
by Terry Allen
August 22, 2017
The last time I paid any attention to an eclipse was on the Flathead Lake in Montana and it was getting in the way of my plans to go swimming. In those days everyone was still afraid of kids catching Polio and it had to be 80 degrees in the shade before they’d let us get in the water. So, I was trying to put a match under a thermometer to get it to the right temperature without blowing it up, and run to the house and get Grandpa back to read it before the temp went back down. But he had my cousins engaged in looking thru a pinhole in a piece of cardboard so I had to work my butt off to get Grandpa to give up on the pinhole, rush to the cherry tree where the thermometer was mounted, accept the temp reading and get behind the wheel of the army surplus troop hauler we went to the lake in. I still recall him scratching his head and saying, "It just doesn’t feel like 80 degrees."
Here we are 50 years later and I had no chance of swimming against the eclipse current again. Everybody and every organization in the county had a plan to avert disaster and that had us all sort of on edge expecting the worst. Some said our state population of 500,000 might double, the roads would be clogged, injured people couldn’t get to the clinic, gas stations would run out of gas and the grocery store shelves would be empty. I decided all I could do was hoard gas and food and then run around to all the venues, scribble notes and take pictures of things as they developed. Everyone behaved just like me and the shelves, etc. were empty of many items days before eclipse day.
Lucky for the general public, the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, State Game and Fish, U.S. Forest Service, Emergency Management, Unified Fire, EMS, Tip Top Search and Rescue and other organizations knew how to plan for us and everything went very smoothly on the road and in the forests and on the lakes.
The Museum of the Mountain Man brought Kevin Schindler to do solar eclipse lectures and demonstrations throughout the day Friday. Everyone took a look thru a big telescope and got to see very distinct sun spots; as well as learning a variety of ways to view the eclipse.
Saturday the Museum set up Solar Science Stations for the kids and an Inflatable Star Lab. Sublette BOCES taught the kids how to cook frozen Tottino’s pizza and how to make S’mores. I’m pretty sure archeologists will dig up a Tottino’s pizza in 10,000 years and still be able to eat it, so I was surprised when Kaidi said she liked Tottino’s Pizza. I’ll suspect her epicurean sensibilities from now on. In spite of my reluctance, Dawn Walker said the event was a great opportunity to learn as a family. "We did research to see how hot it would get," she said. "We learned what foods were safe to cook this way and how to make them."
This summer we have been celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Soundcheck Summer Music Series presented by the Pinedale Fine Arts Council (PFAC). Six shows were held in the American Legion Park and special after-party music was hosted at Boondocks and Wind River Brewing. The finale Saturday was three bands from Austin, Texas. Whippoorwill, The Lonesome Heroes and The Deer.
Sunday night was Movie Night at the Park hosted by the Great Outdoor Shop and Sublette BOCES.
I ran into Dick and Ruth Kriest at American Legion Park. Dick is 83 and still does ski patrol duty at White Pine. Ruth is 82 and she had collected old welding gear they planned to use to look thru Monday. "Do you know Kokanee Salmon run in the creek," asked Dick?
I got word that David Rule was going to swim the length of Fremont Lake again, so I planned to get a shot or two and think about his feat. The swim is 9.5 miles…giving him about ½ mile to swim less than a straight line due to crosswinds. He expected it to take him 5 hours…start at 8:00 am and finish about 1:00 pm. With the help of David and fellow distance swimmer John Kelly we calculated that David took 16 strokes every 25 yards of swimming. I calculated that out to be 10,770 strokes in 9.5 miles. I wondered what weight he would lift over the course of the swim so I got on the internet and discovered each of his arms weigh about 8 pounds. That means he lifted 85,606 pounds during the swim…or 43 tons. Since it is eclipse time, I thought you’d all like to know it is 225,855 miles to the moon. There’s a goal for you, David. A big shout out to Martin Hudson who broke trail for David the whole way in his kayak; and to Mike Oja for giving me a lift in his boat out to where David was swimming.
I joined David and his family, and John Kelly for lunch at Lakeside Lodge. His Mother asked what he thought about as he swam. "For most of the swim I was only thinking of the most delicious Chinese food," he said. "Seriously, it was the only thing in my head. Then without even knowing why I was thinking of an omelet with a lot of hot sauce." Yet, he chose a delicious looking burger and fries off the menu. As far as we know, only three people on the planet…out of 7 billion have done Fremont end to end.
John Kelly swam it in 2011 for the first crossing.
Gordon Gridley swam it in 2012
David and John both swam it last year.
David and John both swam it this year.
I sat with ______Biffle (he didn’t want his name used) and his wife Vicky at the concert. "_____" and I decided life was pretty good here in Pinedale. I figured the only thing that would make it better is if cute girls brought us beer.
Five-year-old Austin Lauger knows how the world works and told me that the moon goes in front of the sun and it gets really dark. "The whole town and the moon get dark," he said. "If you stand under a tree and look down you will see a whole lot of suns, but if you look up at the sun you will go blind."
I watched a guy in Ridley’s sporting goods section selecting a knife, fork and spoon combo. "I forgot a fork," he said. "I’ve been eating Top Ramen with my fingers for two days and I’ve had enough."
The staff at the Joint Information Center west of town were great. I probably visited them more than any other venue. They knew where all the bottlenecks were and so I avoided a lot of wasted time. They had a few hundred people each day for the last few days before the eclipse drop in to get information to make their stay better. Tracey LeClair of Eagle River Fire in Colorado grew up here and came to help. Between her, Travis Bingham and Steve Kipp I knew what was going on in every corner of the county.
At Bondurant, a Trooper was working speeders in the 50 MPH zone like a...Trooper. If those cars run as good in The Canyon as they do on the straightaway, I want one. I'd put a set of Firestone Winterforce on it and take the racing line this winter.
I also met Sheriff Deputy Dan McClure out on the road. Dan has a broad interest in everything and everybody so I asked him what he knew about the goat sacrifice event we'd all been hearing about. "I put one of my goats up for sale," he said..."and got no takers, so I think it's a bunch of hogwash."
I met Sheryl in Bondurant who called herself The Mermaid Goddess. She and her husband Glenn had driven 750 miles to get here from Denver. They were on a National Geo tour and particularly liked the fossil dig. "We cried when we saw the eclipse," she said. "We hugged each other. We knew it was a special moment. It was still…all the traffic stopped. I felt a grounding state come over me."
I had hoped to get the Native American perspective on the eclipse and it just so happened that an engine captain of a Utah fire company was in Bondurant. Ron Clark is a Navajo. "In our nation, the Sun is the Father of all creation," he said. "The Moon is the Mother. The alignment of darkness of both is a representation of death and rebirth of all creation. Our silence and non-consumption (not looking at the eclipse) is part of this process. Our thoughts and prayers are focused on the passing of death, release of all negatives or past situations and the birth of a better future in all aspects…nature, life, etc…in the end, a balance of life and rejuvenation. Our elders counsel us to respect the process. This is a holiday for the Navajo Nation. White people gave us the name "Navajo", but our real name is "Dine’." It means "dying." It means "Earth People." We do ceremonies when we send our guys off to war. When they come back we do rituals to help them come back to normal…because war can affect them badly…because we are a gentle people. We carry corn pollen with us to give as an offering when we pray. This is part of our process that brings us the rebirth and new beginnings."
Feel free to correct my math on the swim.
Next total solar eclipse in the USA will be April 8, 2024 stretching from Texas to Maine: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_April_8,_2024