Myles and I had a simple task on Monday, August 21, 2017
"to go see the sun."
So, we mapped out our adventure and were going to make the day of it.
The only goal was to arrive before 1:06 pm - Partial Eclipse begins
and BAM, traffic
just like that - we were delayed
I'm pretty confident this is the wildest traffic scenario I've ever experienced! So. Many. People.
Any opportunity I had to jump off the highway and take the backroads, I did. But these roads were also congested, so I had to take side roads to the backroads. Dirt roads even. The goal was to never stop - had to arrive before 1:06 - Partial Eclipse begins.
So.... the next portion of the trip was hectic to say the least.
After many miles of bumper to bumper traffic and the time getting closer and closer to 1:06, I began to get really nervous.
I already had tickets to the 'OutASight' Viewing party at the Nacoochee School in Rabun County, but upon arrival and amongst the chaos of CARS EVERYWHERE and ZERO PARKING left, I scrapped that plan and bailed out last minute. I turned down a road and followed a sign that said 'eclipse viewing party parking,' at City Hall.
I got half way up the road and saw cars parked on the side of the road and quickly made a decision to park here (mistake #1).
Being that it was 1:03 when I parked (3 minutes before the moon was to start passing the sun) I was in quite the rush. (mistake #2)
We parked - got all our stuff - hustled to the side of the road - found an opening in the trees - and took the first shot:
All is well (**so I thought**) - we got there on time and got the first shot off.
So we moved into the event and purchased some glasses and then looked around and found some shade under a big tree. It seemed like we got the best spot amongst all the people even though we arrived last minute.
Eclipse Viewing Party
All was going well until the clouds started creeping in:
Extreme disappointment began to consume everyone as we realized that there was a very high chance of the full eclipse being covered by the clouds. (people even began to return to their cars and leave). Silly people.
side note: because of the detour of my original destination - I accidentally picked the same location as my cousin and some friends - win!
it freakin' popped through the gap
...minutes before the full eclipse.
I was only able to get two more shots off after the eclipse before the clouds came back and covered the sun back up.
This is where the story should end...
...but, we couldn't quite leave yet because, well - my sloppy, rush job parking that I did earlier...got my truck towed. TOWED! OH NOOOO!
I've never had my vehicle towed before so....I didn't really know what to do.
This part of the adventure was quite the journey I tell ya. I had to think fast, ask for lots of help, and comfort Myles, and make it seem like it wasn't a big deal....when actually - it was a huge deal. And things seemed to keep getting a tad worse with each step forward.
The first step was to figure out where my truck was. So we wandered up to the information tent and asked if they could help.
These people were so kind and stopped everything they were doing to help out. I was guided to three men who had several numbers to different possible tow companies. So, I dialed them all up until I found the one who snagged my truck.
It was 3:30 and the tow company closes at 5:00
The company is in Clayton, GA - 6 miles south
All traffic was headed south
$300 towing fee
$35 extra a day fee
Zero cell service
40% cell battery, no charger
We haven't eaten
This super kind lady offered to give us a ride to retrieve the truck and she even knew the backroads to get there! BUT - we quickly realized a huge problem....THE TRAFFIC! Thousands and thousands of cars were all headed south! So we pretty much went one block in 45 minutes and came to the conclusion that we weren't even going to get close to getting there before 5:00. So we turned the car around and had to come up with plan B.
Plan B was to have someone come get us which I didn't really want to do. As they would have to drive 4 hours up here and then turn around and drive back. Then I'd have to come back up here the next day but also bring someone with me so I could get the truck - which would be tough!
So my goal was to find a hotel for the night. I learned that the event we were at was right next door to the Dillard House. Which is a restaurant and hotel. So we walked over to discover that it was slammed full of people. We put our name on the restaurants two hour waiting list and then went to the front desk to see about rooms. And with some good news they said they had one room left! But then turned around and said never mind - it was actually reserved for an employee. Dang!
Here I am trying to stay calm, with Myles asking a bunch of questions and complaining about being hungry and I was still striking out. I voiced my predicament to the ladies behind the counter and they were doing the best they could to assist - but at the same time they were still having to manage the high demand from the influx of customers.
While this was going on - I was in communication with family trying to find hotels and/or discuss who was going to get in a car and head up here. And what continued to make things tough was the bogged down cell towers making my phone useless to look up any hotel information.
The Dillard House receptionist eventually got back to me and I asked her if she knew of any hotels nearby and if I could use their phone to contact them. But she did me one better and called her contacts and found a hotel nearby with one room left! BINGO - finally a break!
So, I booked the room and also learned that there was a diner nearby! Perfect :) We now had a place to stay and food nearby.
The hotel was about a half mile away and the receptionist offered to drive us to the hotel! So, we kindly accepted her offer. (I knowingly realized I was offered these sweet gestures bc of Myles by my side)
We turned the boring hotel stay into a fun adventure! Which ended up being Myles' favorite part.
Our taxi ride and truck pickup:
Made it HOME
Even though this trip ended up being something I didn't plan for AT ALL - it certainly ended up being a great time. Minus the extra $450 spent. But I actually think that may have even been worth it as Myles and I had a blast. There were times where it sure was sketchy. We were tired, hungry, and left without much to go off of.
I don't know if I communicated the amount of people up there well enough but dang - there was a bunch. The area was overwhelmed. (come to find out, it took my cousin and friends about 8 hours to get home to Atlanta - due to the traffic). And it was potentially the worst time to have my vehicle towed - all while having a kid to provide for. I felt pretty irresponsible for letting that happen but dad-gummit - I was going to fix the problem. I had to keep from losing my cool and create an environment of adventure to keep Myles engaged and for him to not melt down. We just kept moving. And moving we did. We marched all around the little town of Dillard, GA. Ran into some super kind people that went out of their way to assist us and I'm very grateful for their gratuity.
Myles' favorite part of the whole trip was 'everything at the hotel' which would've never happened if I didn't mess up my parking job. The hotel is actually all he talks about!
He also voiced to me during our moments of despair that "he's glad he has me to help him and that I did a very good job packing his bag. And he has everything he needs." - those kind words from him helped me through the frustrating moments we were in.
I love that little dude and I'm grateful for our wild adventure.
I shared my story with Nathan Wingate ( one time ) and he narrated this masterpiece from memory ( and highly accurate ), laid onto the instrument work of Jonathan Giles. All raw - one take. Really good stuff.