2017 total solar eclipse.

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse Path of Total Eclipse

We departed San Diego, on August 11, for a trip to Idaho to see the total solar eclipse. Our life was busy and we knew a slow down was in order and this trip was part of the plan. We didn’t know how fast to travel and considered the solar eclipse as a once in a lifetime experience. For me getting in the path of the total solar eclipse was very important.  I had seen many partial eclipses and knew that a Total Solar Eclipse was better, I didn’t know how much better.

Yes the Path of Total Eclipse is that important

Now that we did that, if you tell me that you saw a partial eclipse, I’m going to say, “I’m sorry you missed it.”  A total solar eclipse is that much better. We had driven the San Diego to Las Vegas route many times before but this was the first RV trip. Plus the first leg of our first trip was going to be in the middle of summer, across the Mojave Desert.  You can’t time a total solar eclipse for good traveling weather.

Total Solar Eclipse Map 2017 Idaho
Total Solar Eclipse Map 2017 Idaho

New RVers

We were seasoned travelers, but not RVers. Before becoming RVers we followed the advice of friends and rented an RV for a beach trip one time before. We could see the potential from that trip, but that trip didn’t prepare us for RV ownership any more than a tent would have.  The RV we rented was small and cramped and when you drove it, it sounded like parts were falling off. It is amazing the difference that small things make.

Crossing the Mohave Desert

Our first big climb up the Cajon Pass to Victorville was uneventful and our trip across the Mojave was hot but bearable. In Baker, we stopped to trade drivers and our first heat-related breakdown happened. Thankful it was only for the step motor, plastic gear that died in the heat. The RV stairs extend and retract automatically when the door is opened. On trailers, this isn’t necessary because you and extend them manually, to get in, from the outside, but on our RV you are in the inside, trying to get out. It is a big step without the stairs.  After strapping the broken stairs up with nylon belts, we continued to Las Vegas and stayed at the Oasis RV park for the night.  The air conditioners ran straight through the night until we departed the next morning.  Miles covered: 321, nights stayed 1

Here is our review of the Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort

Stock Photo Sun
Stock Photo Sun

Half Way across Nevada

Our next stop was Ely Nevada, still hot but so much cooler than Las Vegas, and here we stayed in our very first KOA.  Driving quickly across several western states on our first trip taught us a valuable full-time lesson. The same lesson we learn over and over again. Slow down, both in how fast your move, and how often you move.  Anyway, KOA was fine but not the reason we got an RV. Miles covered: 253, nights stayed 1

Commercial RV parks, at the time, I considered a necessary evil. To be used sparingly and I didn’t know I had options. There are three types of commercial RV parks in my mind. Ones like Oasis (and KOA)  that want you to come and join the fun. KOA fun, being different than Oasis fun and geared more towards children. Then there are the parks used by long term residents for whatever reason they live in their RVs for extended times. Then there are commercial RV parks, near and sometimes inside major attractions, that are located to serve as a hub for stays near the attractions. The RV parks next to Disney World are these types of parks.  Two things every RV park has in common that I have ever seen is that the spaces are tight and prices expensive.

Total Eclipse Viewing, Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho
Total Eclipse Viewing, Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho

Our night in Ely was followed by another full day of driving to Twin Falls Idaho. We stayed in a very nice, mostly cool, somewhat buggy and inexpensive RV Park, right in town operated by the county. Rock Creek County Park was like a grotto with a stream. This was more like it.  Miles covered: 251, nights stayed 1

Idaho Falls

Just up the hill from Rock Creek County Park was Idaho Concrete plant. I am so glad they turned off the machines at about bedtime. Another lesson. Check the surrounding area. I had already been on the lookout for train tracks, but the concrete plant caught me off guard.

Total Eclipse, Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho
Total Eclipse, Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho

Boise

The next day we made it to Boise and stayed the night at the airport.  Actually it was at Gowen Field, Air National Guard, at the airport. Still noisy.  This was our first Military RV park, outside of San Diego County. Not our ideal situation and we were only staying for two days. We had a mission. Miles covered: 127, nights stayed 2

Our Mission in Boise

Our mission in Boise was buying supplies for the trip to the eclipse, which would include family visits for at least part of the camping trip, all at the lake, all waiting for the big event. We anticipated ten people at any one time at our campsite. One RV and up to four cars. All eating all our meals at the RV.  I have no idea how we stored enough food for the entire thing.

Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho
Campsite, Cascade Lake, Cascade Idaho

Cascade

The road between Boise and Cascade Reservoir was our first mountain steep road followed by our first time off the grid in a National Forest Campground, first time trees raked the top of our RV on the way to our campsite, the first time we pulled into our campsite backward after going around the one way backwards. The first time being hyper-conservative with our water supply.  So many lessons in such a short time. We had so much to learn about this RV thing and our learning curve was very steep. Miles covered: 104, nights stayed 6

Amanita Campground

Amanita Campground is on the north-west side of Cascade  Lake was nearly perfect for our eclipse viewing.  It was on the north side of the path of the total eclipse and most people lived on the south side. Being on centerline would have been nice, but campgrounds near that location would have been way too busy.  We had a lakefront site and a view of the lake from the RV.  I can’t say for sure it wasn’t available elsewhere but it is rare.  We had a nearly private beach, shade in the afternoon. Typically in August in central Idaho, the sky would be clear. I was in a happy place.

Next Eclipse

Now that we know how great a total solar eclipse is our plan is to go to the path of the total eclipse in 2024. Without giving too much away on exactly where we plan to be, Here is the map for the 2024 eclipse. Most of Mexico and nearly half of the United States will see a partial eclipse. On the 2024 eclipse, if you are in the path correctly, the eclipse will be darker, longer and more dramatic. You can bet that we will be there.

2024 map of solar eclipse
2024 map of solar eclipse