Yesterday, Aug. 21, we drove down to southern Illinois to enjoy the total solar eclipse. This would be an entire day of driving there from Chicagoland and back, the weather report for that area was dicey (“mostly cloudy”, they said), and I wasn’t sure where to go. But my older son was persuasive, and I called my high schooler out of school, made some sandwiches, and set my alarm so we could leave early.

We ended up pulling over and setting up in Cambria, Illinois. We were heading somewhere else, probably far more crowded, when we saw the signs and the people at Cambria Park and pulled in. It’s a lovely park and was the perfect place to watch. Got there in time to enjoy the crescent shadows under the trees, see the slowly changing light, and watch the sun disappear.

Behind the solar glasses, when the last sliver of sun goes, it goes completely black. I lifted the glasses and the sky was incredible. A dark hole where the sun was, with streams of light reaching out from its edges. Twilight but not quite twilight all around. Everything everyone said was right. It was perfect. I won’t waste words trying to match what much better writers have said, and I won’t upload my poor attempts at photography when there are better ones online.

But if anyone is ever reading this who has a chance to see a total eclipse, and you can afford the time off, and like I was, you are just trying to decide whether to put in the effort and take the chance on weather, my advice is: just do.