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Jan 17th
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Written by Jack King, BT Contributor   
September 2017

Tales from the drive to view the eclipse

FPix_JackKing_9-17or reasons unclear to me, I liked going to cool and wonderful places to have a good time in my younger days. The first such event was the 1969 Super Bowl in Miami. I was living in West Palm Beach, so the travel was easy.

I had a friend whose father was in the wholesale electronics business (read: RCA television tubes) and who had tickets for four days of parties in Miami, but he’d already given away the tickets for the actual game.

That seemed strange, but we went anyway, thinking we could score some tickets while at one of the parties.

I asked why they weren’t staying for the game and my friend replied that they didn’t want to sit in the hot sun (this was before there were sky boxes), plus they had a barbecue party for 500 going on at their ranch. A light bulb went on in my brain, and it hasn’t gone out since: fun needs to be comfortable.

Enter the recent solar eclipse. Again, for reasons unclear to me, I’ve always wanted to see one, but there have been very few in geographically close areas. And then, wow! There’s going to be one in South Carolina! And we have relatives that we actually like in Charlotte, North Carolina, right next door.

After a few hours of casual thought, it dawned on me that we would have to pass through north Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina to actually get to Charlotte. Over a number of years in the past, we’ve been fortunate when we traveled north, primarily because we’ve flown every time. Was it a subliminal inclination to stay out of those neighborhoods along the way? Or was it just easier to fly?

The eastern sides of north Florida and Georgia are modestly nice -- not too racist and somewhat well educated. This is primarily because they are mostly inhabited by northerners who want to live close to the water. I can understand that. It’s also hard to grow peanuts and cotton there.

But when you get to central north Florida, central Georgia, and central South Carolina, watch out! Yes, there are lots of colleges in these areas, such as the University of Florida and Florida State and Georgia, but almost all their students come from other areas and they leave right after graduation. That doesn’t do much for the neighborhood.

I’ve always wondered what we should do with north Florida. For the most part, it doesn’t do much for our state, even though Tallahassee does more damage to the state than anything else, including hurricanes.

Possibly the best solution would be to cut the state in half horizontally, just north of Gainesville, and then slice it vertically right through Tallahassee, giving the eastern part to Georgia and the western part to Alabama. With precious few exceptions, these areas are more suited to the Confederacy than to the 21st-century State of Florida.

Cutting Tallahassee in half and putting it in separate states would reduce the amount of damage Tallahassee can do to the world, especially to Florida. But I digress again. My apologies, and on to the eclipse.

Back in Charlotte, we woke up early and talked about family issues and the state of the world over a light breakfast. Moving casually, we fixed a light, late lunch and packed a cooler with food and drink. Our plan was to leave Charlotte about noon and drive some 30 miles into South Carolina to our eclipse observation site, which happened to be the world headquarters of Zippy Ice, which happens to be owned by my brother-in-law.

We were fairly off the beaten path, with few other people around. Next to us was what had to be the world’s largest used-car lot. I can see why it was here. Just about every car in the region looked like a used car.

We got out our eclipse glasses -- purchased from Amazon. Yes, those were the ones that were not approved for eclipses, but they worked fine. Still better than window panes painted with black paint.

It wasn’t long before the eclipse started. At first the moon moved slowly, but it seemed to move more rapidly as we got closer to the eclipse “totality.” When the moon was right in the middle of the sun, we still had the sun popping out on the top.

With the sun was mostly obscured, the temperature dropped some 15 degrees. That was very eerie. And with the light dropping, the whole scenario seemed like a bad B movie. Very weird.

At the near total eclipse, we did what any person from South Florida would do -- we broke out the wine. I wondered why we waited so long.

This may be last eclipse for me. The next one in my pathway will be in 2045. Don’t think I’ll make it to 100.


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