Great American Eclipse 2017
A little more than a month ago, I wasn't even aware that there would be a total eclipse of the sun over the continental United States on 21 August 2017.  At the time, I was told that I could take two days off from work in August, but because of personnel and scheduling constraints, I would only be able to take those days off during the third full week of the month.  I chose the Monday and Tuesday (21st and 22nd) just because Thursdays and Fridays tend to be lighter in terms of workload (with the odd chance of being dismissed early on Fridays).  By luck, an old work contact, with whom I have not been in touch with for maybe two or three years, subsequently e-mailed me out of the blue, and after some back and forth regarding work and summer plans, she mentioned that she was heading south of the border to watch the eclipse.  "What eclipse??", I thought.

After some research on the Internet, I realized that the opportunity to witness my second total solar eclipse (I witnessed my first one in Winnipeg in 1979) was too great to pass up even if it meant driving over 2000 kilometres round-trip over an extended 4-day weekend just to witness a 2+ minute-long spectacle.  The fact that the zone of totality would pass right through the heart of Idaho was very appealing to me though.  The weather is generally sunny there, camping restrictions are few or non-existent, and there are lots of great peak-bagging objectives.

As it turned out, my ambitious plan of watching the eclipse from the top of a mountain did not pan out since I was utterly spent after two long outings on Saturday and Sunday.  Regardless, the solar eclipse on Monday still looked amazing from my camping spot at Garden Creek Recreation Site, and this one was just as memorable as the first one I witnessed 38 years earlier.  I will always remember the sudden cooling of the air and darkening of the sky, the cheers from everybody in the campground when totality arrived, and the lady in the next camp playing Richard Strauss's "Also sprach Zarathustra" (Theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey") and Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" on her trumpet!  Most of all, I will remember how fleeting this wondrous moment was.  Totality lasted a little over 2 minutes, but it seemed to go by in a flash just as it had 38 years ago.  In retrospect, those 38 years also seemed to go by in a flash, and I am reminded of how precious our time is here on this planet.

Shortly after totality ended, I, like many others, were already hitting the road for home (a 13-hour drive back to Calgary for me including a bit of traffic congestion).

My mediocre photography skills aside, photos and words simply do not do justice to the experience of witnessing a total solar eclipse in person.  There's nothing in the world quite like it.  For those of you that have never seen a total solar eclipse in person, I refer you to this excellent TED talk for inspiration:  "Before you die, you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse."
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius... The Milky Way Galaxy stretches across the sky at Garden Creek campground the night before the eclipse.
The campground looks empty, but there are actually lots of people around. This is Sonny's campsite at Garden Creek campground on the morning of the eclipse.
f/29, 1/4000 s, ISO-100, 32 mm Though difficult to see in this unfiltered photograph, the moon begins to eclipse the sun from top right.
We are DEVO!
A nice lady from the big camp next to Sonny generously gave him a spare set of certified eclipse viewing glasses to keep.
f/8, 1/160 s, ISO-6400, 55 mm In this filtered photograph, the moon is nearly covering all of the sun.
Another lady in this camp was playing her trumpet as totality approached. I should have brought my trombone! The sky begins to darken over the big camp next to Sonny's campsite.
My one and only good shot (f/5.6, 1/4000 s, ISO-6400, 55 mm)! This is an unfiltered photograph of totality showing the sun's corona.  Totality lasted a little over two minutes.
I saw this a few days earlier when it looked like Hell on earth. Later in the afternoon, smoke from a wildfire on Lolo Mountain near Missoula, Montana threatens to obscure the sun.

See you tomorrow, Mr. Sun!

The sun disappears for good (at least for the day) over the peaks in Glacier National Park (Montana).