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Our Eclipse Trip (Part 7 – The Eclipse!)

(Continued from Part 6)

This was a typical view of clouds on the 21st.

So, the morning of the 21st, we started getting stuff set up.  There was to be less than 20% cloud cover, a light breeze, and overall a good day for the Eclipse.  The cloud cover was in the form of mostly light cumulus clouds that were sliding from the south-south-west, but had big chunks of blue sky between them.

Our eclipse-viewing set-up.

We had brought a small 90mm refracting telescope that I fabricated a projection screen onto.  Using the 90 degree prism diagonal adapter, the image of the sun was easily visible on the small screen.  I had tested it in Buffalo on both the sun and the moon, so I was sure it would work well for all the lighting conditions of the eclipse, without a sun filter.  Well ahead of time, I took this out to the cleared space just south of our site and set it up.

The projection screen on the telescope, for those of us without the lovely steampunk goggles that allow you to look at the sun …
No, that’s not all dust on the lenses, those are sunspots!

I was really happily surprised that the screen worked as well as it did, as we were able to make out sunspots before the eclipse was even near approaching. I was able to leave the image up for a couple of minutes before the sun would track off and I’d have to readjust the telescope so the image would be visible, but that was no problem (except for a couple of times when a big cloud went over).

Here comes the moon …

Slowly, over the course of an hour, accompanied by drinks and popcorn, we watched the sun slowly disappearing as the moon slid in front of it.  Mostly we watched on the projection screen, but occasionally we’d sneak short looks with the solar glasses, to see it in  as unaided a manner as we could.

(Light) Clouds won’t stop us!

Even when the light clouds passed over, we were still able to see the progress, though the dense clouds were just too much.

Here’s the sun about half-way gone …

Slowly, but steadily, we watched the moon make it’s way across the sun’s face, and were able to look across the campground and watch people enter the park for the viewing they had set up at the visitor center/museum.  There were some people congregating at a campsite farther along our loop, but otherwise, we had the campground area to ourselves. (Which is really how we like it.)

And this is what a half-gone sun looks like without a telescope …

One of the things I was really surprised at was how bright it continued to be, even as the moon was covering up the sun.  It wasn’t until the very last 5-10% of the sun was getting covered that it made very much of a difference.

A tiny sliver of sun left …

But finally, the moment was upon us.  The ‘crescent sun’ kept getting smaller and smaller.

But still plenty of light for reading …

But there was still plenty of light for reading, even if it wasn’t full-strength sun.

But as the last little bits of sun were covered up, it got dramatically darker.

I had also turned the bus’ dashcam on.  Here’s the video of the eclipse from the bus’ point of view (sped up to double-speed).

The eclipsed sun as the camera saw it …

We did try to get a picture of the sun being eclipsed, but due to the humidity in the air, it wasn’t as dramatic as we’d hoped – the light was getting refracted back into the darkened area.  As such, instead of a nice dark area in sky, like we saw with our eyes, the camera picked up a dully glowing donut of sorts.

The crescent sun is on the other side now!

And then, the sun, slowly came back.  We had one diamond show up on the projection screen, but it was gone too fast to get a picture. And then it was like we were back to just standing in the sun, much as we had been waiting for the eclipse.

The sun is almost all the way back …

And slowly the sun came back and it was just like every afternoon we’d had up to that point.  But it was an amazing thing to witness, and surprising as to how long it actually took for the eclipse to be noticeable, and how quickly it returned to normal (at least to our unaided eyes).

(More of the trip in Part  8)

 

Our Eclipse Trip (Part 4)

(Continued from Part 3)

The Wanderlodge behind us.

Now full of pizza and wings, we set off to find our way out of Butchertown.  Along the way, we were followed (and passed) by a beautifully kept Wanderlodge.  These are the ‘official’ company made RVs built out of school bus bodies (from 1968-2009).

The Wanderlodge heads off to parts unknown while we turn left. We had way more windows, though …)

As the Wanderlodge headed off on it’s own adventure, we made our way back onto the highway and over to the Bulliet Distillery.  The distillery is the only one in a rather industrial area just outside the city (map here) limits of Louisville as it was secured before the area was developed because of the availability of good water (and also to avoid paying taxes).  As it was, there were plenty of trucks and parking lots for heavy vehicles along the way.

One of the newer storage buildings.

The distillery was originally the the Stitzel-Weller Distilling Company  which was founded in 1935 with the combination of the distributor W. L. Weller & Sons, and the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery.  Known for their ‘Old Fitzgerald’, ‘W.L. Weller’, ‘Pappy Van Winkle’, and other brands through 1972, when the distillery closed though the storage buildings continued to age barrels (at the height of it’s operations, the storage buildings could house 800,000 cases worth of bourbon).

Our tour guide walking us through the distilling process on a display of the facilities.

Bulleit was started (again) in 1987, and used some of the facilities at the Sitzel-Weller plant (though production other that R&D was moved before our tour – be on the lookout for a chocolate rye to be coming out in a few years!).

In the cooperage.

One of the cool things on the tour was seeing one of the few remaining historic cooperage buildings still with gear in it.  It had the facilities to empty a leaking barrel, remove the ends and bands, and allow the staves to be splayed, replaced, or leaks packed with rushes (rushes impart no odd flavors, it turns out).

A quick lesson on repairing a leaking barrel.
Quality control is first!

The highlight of the tour was the tasting. We tasted not only the regular Bulliet, but the 10 year-old, the single barrel uncut, the Rye Whiskey, and

some of the historic blend that’s being made with some of the orphan barrels that were left over when Bulliet took the space over.

But alas, it was over all too soon.  Though we did still have a drive ahead of us, and one of the things that I never seem to be able to do is get to a campground while it’s still light.  So, off we set for Metropolis.

And wound up in a traffic jam.  There were two accidents within a mile of each other and the multiple lanes of traffic were just crawling.

Finally we were in the clear and moved easily down I-65, until we hit the interchange with the Western Kentucky Parkway, which becomes I-69 near Morton’s gap. The interchange had a 15-20 minute stop-and-go traffic jam because of the merging with the Elizabethtown exits, but before we could get to that we had to climb the hill.

And the boy got plenty of reading done …

But once we got onto the Parkway, the engine was nice and cool, and we sailed along.  The Parkway runs nearly straight west, but with lots of hills, though none big enough to slow us down to shift into fourth.

Finally, we hit the end of I-69 where it intersects with I-24, which we took toward Paducah.  We got glimpses of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, but it was starting to get toward evening and I had high hopes of getting to Fort Massac before dark. (I seem to have a hard time ending up at our campsite before dark for some reason.)

Looking west from the I-24 bridge over the Ohio River. Metropolis is just a few miles downriver.

But there was still some light as we got through Paducah and headed back across the Ohio River again and into Illinois.

Our exit was just past the bridge, and then it was only a couple of miles to our site.  Finally, we were at our location for the eclipse, safe, sound, and kind of tired!

 

(Continued in Part 5)

Our Eclipse Trip (Part 3)

(Continued from Part 2)

Friday morning found us off to Metropolis via Louisville.  After a nice breakfast with our friends, we set out on an overcast day, finding our way to OH 562 to get us to  I-75, as I-71 was closed before the bridge to Kentucky.  Not surprisingly, the traffic was a crawl until we got over the bridge and into Kentucky.

It would have picked up more for us, had it not been for the hill. Called the ‘Cut-in-the Hill‘, it climbs about 380 feet over 4 miles, and a calculation over that distance gives it a 2% grade, though the steepest part reaches a about a 3% grade.  And as we were nowhere near up to speed when we hit it, we crawled up at 40 mph, but we weren’t alone, as there were several tractor-trailers in the same situation.

But on the other hand, there was a huge duck atop a building (Cornerstone at Norwood along I-71, for the 23rd Annual Rubber Duck Regatta)

But after that, the drive was pretty nice.  After the rain, the day was a little cooler than the first day, and the engine temperatures didn’t need as much attention, even with the hills and high speeds.  It did still take some attention, as there seemed to be more ‘discourteous’ drivers (not leaving space, weaving in/out of lanes, speeding in excess, cutting nearly sideways across several lanes of traffic to exit suddenly) here than there were in Ohio, and THAT was more than I’m used to dealing with on the road in New York.

But by the time we got to Louisville, though, I was used to it and was being a bit more careful than usual.  Before we were really deep into the city, we had to pull off because the Embroiderer’s Guild of America (EGA) is headquartered in the Butchertown neighborhood.  As my wife is a member of the EGA, and they have a small collection of high quality needlework, we needed to stop.

The Water Tower & Pumpworks around 1860.

As the name suggests, Butchertown was originally full of stockyards, and near where the Beargrass Creek was rerouted to, making it a great place to dump all the unwanted trimmings and such so they would float away to the nearby Ohio River.  So it was a great drive along River Road (right along the river) from the Louisville Water Tower Park to what seemed an overly industrial area for embroiderers.

But the EGA Headquarters is in a readapted historic leather work and cotton sash factory and warehouse (The Pointe), so that explained it.  However, the kind of residences that would have been for workers in such a mid-to-late 1800’s area were small and densely packed, and many didn’t have off-street parking to speak of.  Meaning that there wasn’t anywhere for us to park the bus! There were, however, a number of businesses around with large parking lots, so my wife went off to see if any of them would give us permission to park, while I waited in the bus to be technically ‘standing’ in a no-parking area.

The bus in the Butchertown Pizza Hall parking lot.

After making her way from business to business around the block, she came back to direct me to the parking area of the Butchertown Pizza Hall, where she spoke with one of the owners, and where, as we drove up, employees were moving cars from the back of the lot to give us space to park!  My wife had said that we would definitely buy something there, the owner had said that we didn’t need to, but we were determined to have lunch there after we’d gone to the EGA Headquarters.

A closeup of one of several wall-length hangings at the EGA Headquarters.

Being only a block and a half from the headquarters, it took little time to walk over there and make our way to the back of the building to see what there was. The re-purposed building was high-ceilinged, bright, and airy with terrific heavy wood floors.  The EGA offices were likewise bright and airy, and the displays of needlework were well-displayed over the walls of the small gallery.

The EGA dollhouse, full of miniature embroidery!

We spent a half-hour or so looking over the stitching, the needlework in the display dollhouse, and chatting with the staff members there, especially as one was about to be heading off to Tennessee to watch the eclipse!

And more modern needleart …

After that, we headed back to have some pizza for lunch.

We expected the Butchertown Pizza Hall to have pizza, but they also had wings, so we opted to not get individual lunch specials, but get a pizza with slices of home-made meatballs and mozzarella, and an order of bourbon-honey wings (we were in Kentucky so it made more sense than hot wings).

Our Butchertown Pizza Hall pizza!

The pizza was a full 18″ pizza with a fairly thin crust you could fold to eat.  The sauce and meatballs were really nicely spiced/herbed and the pizza as a whole was really filling!  Even with our growing boy, we barely got through half of it.

And some bourbon-honey wings!

The wings were just awesome.  And coming from Buffalo, I guess you could say that we’re sort of ‘wing snobs’.  While Buffalo is known as the ‘birth place of chicken wings’, even in Buffalo, people know where the best wings in the city are and what makes a good wing.  The Butchertown Pizza Hall wings had the hallmarks of great wings, being completely cooked through, still tender and juicy, with crispy skin.  The sauce was really well put together, being just a bit sweet and buttery, with a well-rounded bourbon flavor that made them way too easy to eat.

While we finished the wings, we had to get the rest of the pizza to go, and left feeling very satisfied and happy that we’d found the place. It was well worth the stop.

Then we headed off to the Bulleit Distillery, originally the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which was only 20 minutes away.

(Continued in Part 4)