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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 - the camp

We went up two weeks before the eclipse to find a place with good camping. We found a spot that had TREES on a round formation called Pine Mountain, about 25 miles West of Casper. Sadly we didn't find a camp with trees that a low-clearance van could follow so we picked another spot. Here's one of the maps we made for people. Green X marked our proposed campsite.

How cool is this mountain?
the orange areas are Bureau of Lan Management (BLM), public lands. barring a special circumstance, they are free to camp on. the blue line is the exact center of the eclipse totality

Unfortunately for us, a local rancher decided they didn't like the idea of potentially having a lot of people camped nearby so they put up no trespassing signs - illegally as far as we could tell - with a claim about deeded land. So this is what we found when we arrived at 9:30pm on Friday night:

What to do? We had 32 more people coming up (B&T) had already found this sign and had camped elsewhere). Tired after a long day, we found we had cell reception and called the sherif's department (Natrona County). We explained the situation and asked if they had any way to corroborate or disprove the no trespassing sign's claims - they did not have that info so they gave us the BLM's after-hours number. We called them but the employee manning the desk also didn't have that information. We left our number and the coordinates and asked for a call back. It was late and we had to start work on Plan B, finding a new site.

Not that there was any doubt that we weren't going to camp there. A rancher that would do this would also be likely to be armed and belligerent. We just wanted to register our grievance with the BLM and see the jerk weasel who did it put on the radar of the authorities (*cough* Strohecker owned ranch nearby *cough*).

We drove up to another possible site and it was taken. We drove back the other way to another spot we knew and that was taken too. It felt like everywhere we went there were people. We were just exhausted since we have little kids and we're usually in bed by 9. We finally found a spot to camp and crawled into our bags at midnight. We slept like the dead.
asleep by midnight - a low point on the trip

The next morning, a quick jaunt in the car revealed that we had, essentially, found ALL the other campers in the area the night before. There were, intact, many more sites and since the weather was expected to be good, we could even camp right on top of hills...which we did. Party saved! Later we found out that T & B found a great camping spot with trees that we could have gone to if we had only known. Oh well, at least we wouldn't have to move to view the eclipse here. Besides, there's a beauty to being out in the wide open...that's our story and we're sticking to it.

easy change to the directions
took a spot up top (500 feet from the exact center of totality)

We had cellphone coverage for voice but no network for texts or email or internet. We called everyone and told them he new directions.
home sweet home for the next three days
camp sign on the road
up went more  tents as new people arrived
fantastic 360˚ viewing areas
Camp life ensued...

I found bones!

why there were so many bones up there

Seiji got hold of the camera and took it for a spin

the NonaDome was the main hangout

windstorm the evening before took out some sunshades and a few tents

more coming...