USA road trip and total solar eclipse

Having crossed from Oakland to Denver by train, Lucy and I joined my parents in Denver (well, Aurora, technically) for the remaining phase of our holiday – incorporating the total solar eclipse, after which Lucy and I went as far as Boise, Idaho, while my parents continued further.

Day 1 – Rocky Mountain National Park

Dad looks out over over some of the mountains after we’ve driven up from Estes Park
Nearing the summit of the Trail Ridge Road
A view from the Alpine Visitor Center, at 11,796 feet above sea level.
We’ve lost a little height but that much extra oxygen in the air has helped compared to that at almost 12,000 feet. Here we cross the Continental Divide
An impressive example of an intrusive dyke, one of several we saw on the road north from Granby (where Lucy and I had been yesterday on the train). The intrusion is a sheet of rock that formed in a fracture in a pre-existing rock body. Here, the softer surrounding rock has eroded away leaving the intrusion. The fully grown trees give some sense of scale: iIt is really, really high – hundreds of feet – it would be quite a wall!
Crossing the continental divide again on our way to Laramie

Day 2 – total solar eclipse

We got up in good time and travelled to Glendo State Park on the banks of the Glendo Reservoir. There had been lots of coverage warning us to expect large amounts of eclipse-associated traffic, but we experienced no problems in getting there, and found ourselves a decent spot in plenty of time.

Our spot with a good view of the sun, some shade to rest under, and with the backdrop of the water behind – albeit that there wasn’t all that much water in the reservoir
Eclipse glasses nicely modelled by Lucy
Pinhole projection
A helpful reminder of the date in case we’d got the wrong day
Crossed fingers can create an array of pinholes, which then project the sun safely
And thus we get an array of crescent suns as the moon gradually makes its way across the face of the sun
Another helpful reminder from someone of why we’re here
The big moment approaches
And totality. The light has gradually being getting dimmer for a long time, but so gradually you barely notice, but as the moment approaches it rapidly gets darker, far faster than at dusk. And suddenly there is a black sun in the sky, surrounded by fire
The diamond ring as the sun just peeks through a gap on the imperfect circle of the moon
And afterwards, as people start to pack up

The third total eclipse for Lucy and me (after Zimbabwe and Turkey; we almost saw the Cornwall eclipse from the air on the way to Cyprus), and still special. We may be back in the USA for the 2024 eclipse.

Day 3 – to Jackson Hole

Some lovely reds alongside the Wind River
Colours galore
Crossing the Continental Divide for the fourth time on this holiday. Three Waters Mountain sends its precipitation into the Colorado, Columbia and Mississippi rivers.
Approaching the Teton Range
A bit closer; Grand Teton is the highest in centre picture
Alpenhof Lodge, our hotel for the night
The cable car (here called an aerial tram) takes us up over 4000 feet to the top of Rendezvous Mountain.
Lucy at the top of the aerial tram
Me on top of the mountain
Looking north to Grand Teton on the left and the valley of Snake River
Further west, the view towards Idaho.
South along Snake River
Lucy heads off on the “Top of the World” walk.
The moment the Jackson Hole aerial tram crashes into the mountain. Not really, but it does look a bit like it!
Grand Teton again during an afternoon run – at 6300ft altitude and 26 degrees, I took it fairly easy.
Christmas in August at Teton Village!

Day 4 – Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park

Today we travelled through Grand Teton National Park and had a little taste of a very busy but beautiful and interesting Yellowstone National Park.

Crowds waiting for Old Faithful
There she blows, a few minutes late

Day 5 – Idaho Falls and the Craters of the Moon

Our last full day in the US: first, as we were staying in the city of Idaho Falls next to the Idaho River, we had to pay a visit to Idaho Falls. Then on our way to Boise we stopped at the stark but fascinating Craters of the Moon. Though the sites of the major volcanic eruptions with calderas have moved east over several million years to Yellowstone, more minor activity has continued here with basaltic lava flows covering a large area of Idaho, with more expected in the next thousand years.

Idaho Falls
North Crater flow, some of the youngest lava flow at Craters of the Moon National Monument, about 2000 years old.
Walking to the top of Inferno Cone
The view from the top of Inferno Cone, including vast lava fields, and cinder cones lined up along the Great Rift, with Cinder Butte in the distance, one of the world’s largest basaltic cinder cones.
The wall above held in a lake of lava, which then spilled down the hillside towards us
A partially collapsed lava tube
A couple of spatter cones, miniature volcanoes.
Inside a volcano. The other one had snow in it!
A lone small tree in a field of lava

Day 6 – Boise

And so it was time to go home – but just time for a run along the river, before heading home, via Seattle and Reykjavik.

Dawn over Boise, Idaho
A lovely spot for a run, though not quite as much view of the river as I’d hoped as the riverside paths had a lot of vegetation between them and the river. Still, good to stretch the legs before the three flights home.

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