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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Grace Waltz Totality is seen Monday above Lake Barkley in Cadiz, Ky.

  • Courtesy Peggy McCarty Donning their eclipse glasses, the McCarty family watches the solar eclipse Monday on the shores of Lake Barkley.

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Jim Chapman day city editor

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 1:00 am

2 minutes of totality make 6-hour trip totally worth it

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

CADIZ, Ky. – Six months ago, I asked to take two days off in late August. I told my boss and a few co-workers I would be joining my wife's family in western Kentucky to watch the total solar eclipse.

“No, I'm not kidding,” I said in an email when I submitted my request for vacation time.

Monday, I did what I said I would do, and the moon and sun didn't disappoint.

At 1:24 p.m. (2:24 p.m. EDT), according to my cellphone, the moon enveloped the sun along the shores of Lake Barkley, about a half hour west of Cadiz, Kentucky. I didn't time it to the second, but we witnessed more than 2 minutes of “totality,” a word my wife has been saying for the last three years, perhaps longer.

We cheered and drank sparkling wine, not only because what we saw was historic, but also because the heavens cooperated just before some clouds threatened to obstruct our view.

My wife's family was well prepared. In addition to wine and other adult beverages, we had plenty of glasses to safely view the eclipse. My wife ordered ours months ago.

So why was this so important?

My wife, Peggy McCarty, is huge fan of astronomy and space exploration, so much so that we named one of our cats Edwin after Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man on the moon. She convinced her family to jump on the eclipse bandwagon and her sister Anne reserved a cabin last fall at a place called Prizer Point.

Fortunately, we didn't have to deal with the crowds (or so we had thought, more on that later) that other cities and towns experienced. We were in a private resort area, and the employees told us they were making sure that guests actually had reservations and weren't coming in just to watch the eclipse. One worker told us officials were expecting half a million people to invade the surrounding area.

Traffic was fine when we made the 61/2-hour drive Saturday, taking Interstate 69 virtually the entire way.

Our cabin had a capacity of 12, but on Sunday night, there were 15 of us. On Monday, we were ready for history to be made and amazed at how dark it got and how much cooler it suddenly felt when the sun hid behind the moon. It provided temporary relief on what was otherwise a very hot, humid day.

Hopkinsville, about 45 minutes east of us, was expected to get 2 minutes and 41 seconds of totality, among the longest stretches in the country. Cadiz was expected to get 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

Today we'll find out if we really escaped the crowds when we pack up the car and head north on I-69 for home.

Jim Chapman is Metro Day Editor at The Journal Gazette.