Catching the Eclipse in Stanley, Idaho

August 2017

The time had come. The event of the summer was getting very, very close. OK, maybe not THE event of the summer for everyone, but this was something I had been looking forward to. It was a total solar eclipse, after all. Not something that happens every year. And I was going to hang with a great group of friends. Yep, I was excited!

The Perfect Location

As I had discussed in my last post, I had taken on the task of finding the perfect boondocking spot for the large-ish group of fellow nomads to view the eclipse. It had previously been decided that Stanley, Idaho would be our gathering place. Stanley was right smack dab in the middle of the path of totality – where you would see the complete eclipse. Because Stanley was literally in the middle of the path, we would experience the longest period of total eclipse possible. The key was finding the right spot.

We had to have Internet (something hard to come by in the mountainous region that Stanley occupies. We had to have a spot large enough for the expected group size. I wanted to be away from the crowds expected to descend on Stanley. And it wouldn’t hurt if we had a great view. Um, yeah, OK, as if that isn’t a tall order! But I managed to find it! Yay for me!

 

I managed to find an ‘unknown’ boondocking spot that not only had very usable AT&T and Verizon signal, it had a pretty awesome view, had a spot large enough for the expected number of RVs, and because it was off the radar, it should be quiet. This particular spot isn’t on any of the websites that show boondocking locations. If you want to know how I found this spot, head over to Camp Addict and read this blog post about boondocking.

I ended up staying at this spot just shy of 3 weeks. Yep, it was that nice of a spot!

 

Stanley proper is a small town. The population is something like 60 people. It swells to some multiple of this during the summer, as it’s a very popular region. It is the gateway to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It truly is in a VERY gorgeous setting. But did I mention it’s small? No proper grocery store. Not much to do. But it was right in the middle of the eclipse action for that part of the country. Which means there were tens of thousands of people expected to arrive (not that many people showed up, but damn if they didn’t prepare for it).

 

UPS Deliveries

Bear with me for a minute while I tell you about something really cool that happened at our boondocking spot in Stanley. For those of you that live in sticks-and-bricks (a house) this might not seem like a big deal. But trust me, it’s a HUGE deal for us nomadic types.

We were able to get UPS deliveries to our boondocking location. In the middle of nowhere. With no physical address. Not a campground. Not any sort of designated spot. Literally a chunk of dry ground.

How in the world did this happen? To this day, I’m still not sure. But one day, early on in our stay, a UPS truck came down our dusty road and asked where Jill was. Huh? How do you know who Jill is and furthermore, how did you find her????

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Jill showing off one of her first UPS delivieries

I happened to be the one that intercepted the UPS driver so I pointed out where Jill was. And I proceeded to ask how we could get deliveries here.

Turns out Jill (one of our group) had ordered something to be delivered to the local Post Office via General Delivery. Problem is the item was shipped via UPS, which doesn’t deliver to a General Delivery address. Fortunately the VERY resourceful UPS driver went above and beyond and stuck her nose down some roads and eventually stumbled across us. Or something like that. Again, I’m really unclear how she found us. But she did!

One of the advantages of being in such a small town is that the UPS driver is willing to make deliveries to really odd places. She told me how to address future packages so that she would understand where to take it. And I spread the word throughout our group.

 

I think literally every day of our almost 3 week stay the UPS driver showed up. She became a fixture. She started to know our names. It was the weirdest, and coolest, thing.

So yeah, that happened. Again, if you aren’t nomadic you might not understand the magnitude of this. But believe me, this is really, really rare (I’ve never seen it before, though I heard about it happening at the New Years gathering a couple of year ago).

Social Time

One of the things I was looking most forward to during the eclipse gathering was catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and finally meeting people I had only known online. Yes, the eclipse was the reason why we were all in the middle of nowhere, but this was an event whose actual event was only going to last just over 2 minutes on one day. We had almost 3 weeks of time to fill pre- and post-eclipse.

So we were social. Oh boy, were we social! Almost every evening there was some sort of gathering. A happy hour, if you will. It wasn’t mandatory to attend, so people came and went as they pleased. I certainly didn’t attend every social event, but I attended plenty.

Some of the below photos courtesy of Amanda Watson and Jen Nealy (as marked).

 

Being social meant everything from sitting around shooting the shit, to having a potluck, to getting together in smaller groups in someone’s rig. There may have been a hot springs visit or two (Idaho has the most of any state). Some off-roading took place. Hiking. Kayaking. All the usual outdoorsy stuff.

 

It was great to catch up. To be social. Even for this introvert.

Our group eventually grew to 15 rigs. Plus the one rig that was there when we first arrived (there was nobody there when I scouted the location, so I was a bit surprised to hear someone was there when the first of our group arrived, considering how hard it was to find this spot). The spot wasn’t the largest, so we had to get semi-cozy. Normally this isn’t something that makes me happy (there is a reason I dislike traditional campgrounds), but since we were all friends, it was very manageable.

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Day of the Eclipse

There were several wildfires in the area, including one that popped up pretty darn close. The smoke from these fires would sometimes completely obscure our view. Hiding the gorgeous Sawtooth Mountains. We were a bit concerned that come eclipse day we were going to have to deal with either smoke or clouds. Fortunately we had neither. It was a perfect day to experience the eclipse!

The eclipse was going to happen late morning, Stanley time. So we made it an all day affair. Things started out slow as we all gathered and prepared for the upcoming show.

Photo (as marked) courtesy of Drive Dive Devour.

 

During the eclipse, the moon moved across the sun, eventually blocking the sun completely from view. This whole process takes quite some time, but the actual eclipse part (where the sun was completely blocked) lasted just over 2 minutes.

While the moon was slowly marching across the sun, we had to use those funky eclipse glasses if we wanted to take a peak. But during the actual eclipse, we could use our bare eyes.

Photos (as marked) courtesy of Drive Dive Devour and Jen Nealy.

 

It was weird to experience the changing light as the sun became covered. It’s a light that is very hard to describe, so I won’t bother trying. The temperature dropped noticeably (it got cold). An eerie sense of calm spread.

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Sunset – in the middle of the day!

Yes, experiencing a total eclipse was pretty spectacular. No, I didn’t have one of those life changing moments where I broke down in tears. Nothing like that. I just enjoyed the show. And my friends.

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