It’s Thursday night 11 o’clock and we are only four hours behind schedule. What a way to start our weekend getaway. We had a 3.5-hour ride to Rochester, NY and then we were staring down the barrel of a 14-hour drive to Perryville, Missouri. I’ve been planning this road trip since September of 2016, but despite all the preparation, we had our work cut out for us.
Just the thought of being in the car all day with these little guys is enough to make you freak out a little. All kinds of shenanigans take place in the car. The pinching, the poking, the ear pulling, this was the norm and we’re just talking 15-minute trips to the grocery store! What on Earth did we get ourselves into? Well, it’s not every day that you get to experience the “Greatest Show on Earth” and I mean that quite literally. Our motto is “We trip, we tribe, we vibe” so it was time to buckle down and hit the road. Our Trippy Tribe was setting out on an 18-hour trip cross country from New York to Missouri.
Special thanks goes out to Papa Longmire. We were fortunate enough to have access to the family SUV which has a third row, this made the trip a whole lot easier. Spacing these guys out had an immediate positive impact on our trip, It was great! We really like that Lincoln CRV it seems right up our alley… Sleek, spacious, and legit.With trips like this, It’s really hard not to reminisce down memory lane. When I was young my father and I would drive 20 hours from New York to Alabama to visit our family and check on our land. We made this trip annually and to this day it is one of my fondest memories from youth. When I was old enough Pops would even let me test my hand at driving some of the way. As I grew, my road skills and confidence continued to improve I was knocking the majority of the trip out. I say all that to say I’ve been essentially training for these types of journeys all my life.
One of the key travel tips I learned growing up, especially traveling long distances with young ones- Leave Late Night! You can beat the traffic and minimize the amount of time the youngsters would be awake in the car. Our plan was to leave around 8 pm Friday night so we could arrive around midday Saturday.
This was truly a family affair as my mother, brother, sister, a family friend and business partner all accompanied Our Trippy Tribe for this monumental astronomical event.We didn’t end up leaving until slightly after 10 pm on Friday, later than planned but we were still good to go. I tried to get as much rest as I could during the day so I could be fit for our drive.
Our trip would take us across 6 states; New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and ultimately to Missouri. We made a few stops along the way for gas and to stretch and such but we were never setback more than 15 minutes. With a team effort, we made it to St. Louis about 11:00 am CDT. We were in the central time zone so the clocks were an hour behind those in the east. We were a little early for our check-in so with some time to burn we decided to check out St. Louis Galleria Mall. The mall was huge but eh, it was a mall you’ve seen one you basically seen em all…(Kanye shrugs). After some time window shopping and wandering aimlessly around the mall we stopped at one of the famous BBQ spots in St. Louis Bogart’s Smokehouse my mom insisted she was not leaving until she tried some juicy, tender brisket. Once my mom got her BBQ fix, we made the 1.5 hour trip to Perryville Missouri. Upon arriving we had some issues finding our lake house lodge, the cell phone reception was weak and the GPS was taking us all over the place.
When we finally arrived we had a major mercury retrograde moment as we searched high and low for the lockbox where the key was located and came up empty.
The host’s instructions on the Airbnb website describing where to find the key was slightly confusing. When we found what we thought was the lockbox it had no key, it was empty. We had a minor moment of panic we booked this place 9 months ago and here we stood…Keyless, serviceless, and drained from travel. We had to make a 20-minute drive to get the proper cellphone signal to contact the host and once we did everything was sorted. I’m a bit embarrassed we didn’t find the key on our own but to our defense we were running on fumes.
Once we were settled in it was late Saturday evening. The boys were great on the ride but it was time for some much-needed rest and recovery, we earned it. Our Airbnb slept six, there was a bunk bed in one room and the queen bed in the other and a pullout couch in the living room. Perryville was a town of about 9,000 people but the town was buzzing with anticipation for the solar eclipse. We were excited to wake up early the next day to drive to Carbondale, Illinois to check out all the activities they had lined up.
Carbondale was located in the Southern Tier of Illinois in a region commonly referred to as “Little Egypt”. Carbondale was paramount in the whole scheme of things, not only is it the location where NASA would be broadcasting from it was also the location of the longest eclipse (2min 38 sec). Although only a small city of about 26,000 residents, Carbondale boasted a major university (Southern Illinois University) which made it an ideal location to host the estimated 200,000 people who would travel from all over the world to see one of the natures greatest spectacles.
Now here’s what makes Carbondale so special, not only was it the epicenter of the first Total Solar Eclipse to grace both coasts of the continental United States in 99 years ( the last T. Solar Eclipse took place June 8, 1918) but in 7 years in 2024 another Total Solar Eclipse will come from the south and cross the exact same place, Carbondale, Illinois! This is like hitting the galactic Powerball. Hundreds of thousands of people took the opportunity to be at this crossroads of where back to back solar eclipses will cross.
As a spiritual teacher and student of universal law, I could discuss in great detail how these events possess a deeper significance for each and every one of us and the planet as a whole buuuuuuut we’ll save that for another blog and another time.
With the Total Solar Eclipse, only a day away Carbondale was buzzing with excitement. The city of Carbondale, Southern Illinois University, and all the local organizations involved did a phenomenal job of coordinating the events.
We spent a lot of time in the area set up for kids called “The Family Fun Zone”. There was a live gospel choir jamming to some classics, plenty of food & beverage vendors, and local artists displaying their work. It was fun watching the boys have a ball. We even had a chance to tap into our inner child with some games of our own ( I mean it was Leo season right).
Southern Illinois University was hosting a science & technology fair in their sports arena. LaPharaoh and I had a chance to fly a drone and get some lessons on 3D printing technology (I’m honestly still not exactly sure how it works but it was still cool to see).
LaPharaoh is really interested in science and building things so Hannah was able to gather some information about a nationwide program called “First Robotics” that we could look into that would suit his interests. There were so many events going on it was impossible to partake in them all.
We spent hours walking around and taking it all in everything was eclipsed out, it was neat to see.
We were in prime time wine country so we had to take a wine tasting tour, we even purchased some exclusive eclipse wine especially made for the event.
Soapbox alert… It was really great to see people of different ages, nationalities, faiths, and all walks of life come together to witness the beauty and glory of our world. People from all over converged on this 70-mile wide galactic highway that stretched cross country from Oregon to South Carolina and would play host to an event of a lifetime. Despite all the turbulence going on with the weather, in politics, government and the very fabric of our society all these people were here United in Totality, enjoying each other for a larger cause…one that unites us all, Nature.
Carbondale was an 1.5 hr. drive from Perryville, part of the reason for our trip down a day early was to get a gauge on how traffic would be for the big day. After talking with some of the locals they were anticipating a huge influx of people on Monday, August 21st. We had a major decision on our hands, travel to Carbondale on eclipse day or stay in Perryville. Our lodge was beautiful, it was right on the lake had a large patio, was on 80 acres of land, and we could enjoy totality together in the comfort of central air and our family and friends. Carbondale would have all the events, the people, and add that extra impact to our experience. In Perryville, we wouldn’t get that same excitement from the crowd and the NASA sponsored events and we would have 30 secs less of totality. If we did decide to choose Carbondale we would have to leave by 5 am to get there in time to see first contact (first contact 11:50 am CDT), travel time and traffic would be madness, no central air (97 degrees day), no room for our filming equipment, and of course the wild card-our 3 little guys. There was pressure from everyone for me to make a decision but I needed to sleep on this one. We came a long way and both options were great and flawed for their own respective reasons. By nights end I was split 60/40 leaning toward staying in Perryville. A few years back my mom was the victim of a reckless driver, the accident required a surgical procedure where a vertebrae was removed from her neck. I could tell the time pinned up in the car and walking miles around city Carbondale had taken a toll on her. Another day of this may have been too much to bear. So it was settled, we would take advantage of this amazing opportunity to have the comfort of our space, our food, our family, and most importantly our time, Perryville it is!
We were all so excited about the eclipse we really didn’t know what to expect. I shared plenty of articles and videos about the eclipses via email and in our group chats but this was brand new territory for us all. The last Total Solar Eclipse that occurred in America was in 1979 and totality was only visible to a small section of the country in the Pacific Northwest. A report said that 50% of the population in the USA wasn’t even born yet during the last total solar eclipse. Tomorrow we would make history and the best thing about it is we would do it together.
We woke up around 7 am on August 21, aka “Eclipse Day”. Hannah and I went down and sat on the dock by the lake and meditated for a while.
It was peaceful sitting there watching the sun walk along the water. I picked up Carbondale’s local newspaper, “The Daily Egyptian”, to find the exact times the different phases of the eclipse would take place. The first contact as stated earlier would take place at 11:50 am CDT and totality would occur at 1:25 pm CDT. It wasn’t long before the boys woke up and came down to the edge of the lake to join us.
They got a kick out of throwing bread out to the tiny fish that gathered just off the docks. We literally had no service at the lodge except in this one small corner of the living room where we could pick up one puny little bar, our services were basically rendered useless. I must admit, it was nice to have a few days without addressing emails, text messages, or social media although we did need to contact my mother and siblings who were staying at the local hotel in the downtown Perryville area. Thankfully we were able to get a message off to them, “ the first contact occurs just before noon, get here soon, oh and we need graham crackers for smores”.We spent the rest of the morning relaxing and getting prepared for the main event. We tuned into the local radio stations who were doing live coverage of the eclipse as it was observed at the different times and locations across the country. The family arrived shortly after and the countdown was on.
It is these moments where I reflect and look at the little life we’ve put together and I just laugh. We packed up the family, spent almost a full day driving to the middle of the country, all in efforts to take in one of the most historically documented and revered wonders in all of the known world. An awe-inspiring moment that will last a ‘whopping’ 2min 8 secs. Who does this…Really? ME that’s who! All jokes aside Chico, It’s these types of moments where I’m so thankful for Our Trippy Tribe and especially Hannah, without her willingness to travel and create landmark memories as a family none of this would be possible. She’s the real MVP.
With no further ado, it was finally time… The moment we’ve been waiting for “The Great American Eclipse” had arrived at our remote location in South Eastern Missouri.
We had our eclipse viewing glasses, our eclipse shirts (courtesy of g’ma) and our electronic devices set up ready to capture it every step of the way. It was very surreal seeing the first contact. A dark orb made a tiny black dot on the right side of the sun. As time moved forward the black orb continued to increase in size devouring more and more of the light from the sun. Everyone was mesmerized, the boys were loving the whole process. LaPharaoh was our investigative reporter, he would periodically go out onto the patio with his glasses on and update us on the progress. “Wow, come outside and see it, it’s getting bigger and bigger”.
Pre-eclipse to post-eclipse took approximately 2hrs and 38 minutes. We had a few drinks, laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company. It was a 95-degree day with clear skies, and we had the perfect view of the eclipse from our lake lodge. I couldn’t help but think as we approached totality how ill this really was. It was 1:00 pm CDT and we had about 25 minutes left before totality. The interesting thing about it all was that if you weren’t informed that there was actually an eclipse taking place outside it would be difficult to notice on your own because the light outside appeared to be like any other normal day. It wasn’t until you put the glasses on that it revealed the mystery of what was truly going on. At this point, unless you were in the 70-mile wide path of totality (which we were) your eclipse viewing pleasure was over. Every minute that went by brought us closer and closer to totality.
At this point, there was a distinct difference in the temperature, maybe about 12 degrees or so cooler than before the eclipse began. There was an eerie silence all around and then all of a sudden the animal and insect chatter picked up drastically. We were just seconds away from totality, this was ultimately the reason we traveled all this way. We were able to remove our glasses and stare safely at the eclipse now. The light from the sun was completely obscured with the exception of a brightly lit halo.
The light continued to fade until it was indistinguishable from night outside. The stars and planets appeared in the sky, and the sound of crickets filled the air. We all stood in awe and amazement. This was truly one of the most incredible things I’ve ever witnessed. Words and pictures do no justice whatsoever in comparison to actually being there. It’s a moment that everyone should at least experience once in their lifetime. After over 2 minutes of darkness in the middle of the day, the final touch- the sun and moon created a diamond ring like appearance in the sky as if to unite us into the annals of natural history. This whole experience was everything I imagined and more!
Afterwards, we embraced and discussed what we just saw, almost as if to somehow validate that we actually saw what we think we did. The light of day gradually increased as time passed. The stars disappeared, the temperature was on the rise, all appeared to be back to normal. There were 9 of us on the deck that day and we had all been changed forever. It was the epitome of firsts for us; first long road trip together, the first time in Missouri, and first time seeing a total solar eclipse. It’s often said the Lord works in mysterious ways and I don’t exactly believe in coincidences. To see another total solar eclipse on American soil the people would have to wait 7 years. Not until April 8, 2024, (four days after Hannah’s birthday), will we be able to have this unique experience again. And to top it off, the path of totality would pass directly through my hometown, good ole Rochester, New York. You can’t make this up, remember those mysterious ways I mentioned earlier…Yea!
Later that day we decided to take advantage of the beautiful lake with the boats, and life vests provided by The Carver Lodge. The boys were so excited to get geared up, get in the boat and on the lake.
They swore up and down they would catch some fish with just that net haha. LaPharaoh was pretending to be a snake catcher all day,(with great success I might add), catching fish in the lake should be a breeze. Bless their little hearts, I love my babies!
Although the sun was making its way toward the western horizon the temperature was still in the mid-80’s.
It was a little cooler on the water and this was a good opportunity to get a nice little workout in. I wasn’t able to get my mom in the boat, her and Jawanza (my younger brother) were working the grill but we made multiple trips with the boys and Aunt Shanita (my younger sister).
Rowing up and down the lake was gratifying on many levels. It was very peacful and tranquil on the water. We all spent some good quality time enjoying eachothers company and the little bit of daylight we had left. Not too long after my mother, Jawanza, Shanita and JB made their way back to their hotel in downtown Perryville to rest up for their trip back. It was such a wonderful day and Hannah reminded the boys if they were well behaved throughout the day they could choose a late night snack, smores or strawberry shortcake. After bathtime mommy made good on that promise, and of course they chose both! This mommy is this best.
After having our dessert we did some packing and straightened out the lodge and hit the sack for some much needed rest. This would be our last night in Perryvile, Missouri. We had an absolute blast and are so thankful to the Carvers for allowing us to rent their space for our eclipse trip. Due to some glitch in the Airbnb system (of which I called several times to try and figure out) I was not able to leave a feedback for our time there. Hands down we rate it 5 stars and we really hope that they are properly credited for how satisfied we were with all our accomodations and all the little things they did to make our trip that much more special.
This was a special event and Our Trippy Tribe had the pleasure of sharing this time with some very special people. We look forward to researching, saving, and making travel arrangements to attend as many Solar Eclipses as possible. It will be Our Trippy Tribe Tradition. One of my mentors once told me “life is the sum of your experiences and it’s a big world out there”. So 7 years from now in Rochester, NY, what I’m dubbing as my ‘homecoming eclipse’ we all get a chance to do it again.We had a blast and we made a major deposit into our memory banks. We tripped, we tribed, we vibed, and now it was back to New York. We gotta keep it movin’ we have more trips to plan…
Always and in All Ways find yourself in the story.