We almost didn't make it there, because I lost my nerve somewhere in Virginia. I haven't admitted that up to now. If it wasn't for my son, traveling ahead of us in his car, we may never have made it.
We were familiar with the route. We had made the trip to South Carolina several times; to Columbia, once. We would take I-81 to I-77 to Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The next day would be a short drive to Columbia.
That is, until we hit the traffic jam in Virginia. Much of the trip in fact, is in Virginia. We are talking around 234 miles from (approximately) the northern border of Virginia to its intersection with I-77, and then there is still more driving after that.
We knew many people were traveling south to watch the eclipse, but hadn't imagined this would happen.
The traffic jam stretched as far as the eye could see. No construction was in sight, nor was an accident.
My son called, a few minutes ahead of us.
"I pulled off and stopped at a gas station. The attendant told me the traffic jam stretches to the Virginia border." he calmly told me.
We would never make Mt. Airy. We would never make the eclipse. We would never.... negative thoughts filled my head.
We got to the gas station. We talked to someone pumping gas at the next pump. "Yes", he confirmed. "It's the traffic going south to see the eclipse. It's all jammed up."
I called my son, visions of a 200 mile long traffic jam curdling my thought processes.
"I don't know..." I began. "I'm thinking of turning around..."
"Mom!" interrupted this young man in his 20's. "You aren't going to give up now, are you? I'm not giving up!"
This is what my son did. He got off of I-81. He had never been in the area. He had no routine, no preconceived notions. He went for broke. He used Google Maps on his phone to find a Virginia state road that paralleled I-81. It was rural, and it was slower, but what was the alternative?
Believe it or not, after we started to follow him, we got back on I-81 a couple of times, and quickly found ourselves back in the traffic jam. Finally, the wisdom of what he was doing sunk in.
That night, in Mt. Airy, in the motel room we shared, he told us of his adventures. He had fallen in love with that part of Virginia, especially after someone flagged him down to tell him his gas cap was open. He talked about the beauty he saw. He's definitely a blue highway kind of man.
The next morning, the road to Columbia was clear.
I learned so much about myself during that trip. I'm stuck in my ways. I have to unstick myself.
I have to relearn being flexible.
|Not where I viewed the eclipse but I'm sure it was fun for the fans|
|Columbia, South Carolina, day before eclipse|
|South Carolina State Museum, where we watched it, at totality|
|The horizon at totality|
Sometimes, you just need a good kick in the pants from your son.