The Path of the Total Solar Eclipse
I have seen many partial eclipses and knew that a total solar eclipse was better, but I didn’t know how much better. How much better — a total solar eclipse is way better. Our life was busy and we knew a slowdown was in order and this trip was part of the plan. We didn’t know how fast to travel and we considered the solar eclipse a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For me getting in the path of the total solar eclipse was very important. If you are not in the direct path of the solar eclipse, you are only going to see a partial eclipse.
So we departed San Diego, on August 11, for a trip to Idaho to see the total solar eclipse.
Yes the Path of a Total Solar Eclipse is important
Now that we made it to the path of a total solar eclipse, and saw the eclipse 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.
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 buying our own RV. We could see the potential from that first 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 RV breakdown happened. Thankful it was only for the step motor, plastic gear that died in the heat. Our RV stairs extend and retract automatically when the door is opened.
On trailers, self-deploying stairs are not necessary because you extend them manually, to get in, from the outside, but on our RV you are 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
We stayed in Las Vegas at the Oasis Las Vegas RV resort. Here is our review of Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort
Halfway 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 lesson. The same lesson we learned 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 is different than Oasis fun and geared more toward 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 commercial RV park has in common that I have ever seen is that the spaces are tight and prices are expensive.
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. We liked this much more than commercial RV parks. This was more like it. Miles covered: 251, nights stayed 1
Just up the hill from Rock Creek County Park was the 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.
The next day we made it to Boise and stayed the next two nights at the airport. Actually, it was at Gowen Field, Air National Guard, at the airport. It was still noisy. This was our first Military RV park, outside of San Diego County. Gowen Field is not our ideal situation but we were only staying for two days. We had a mission. We needed to get into the path of the total solar eclipse early and we needed to get there well before other RVers and campers showed up. Miles covered: 127, nights stayed 2
Our Mission in Boise
Our mission in Boise was buying supplies for the trip to the total solar eclipse, this 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 our campsite at any one time. We had our RV and up to four cars. Everyone was going to eat every meal at the RV. I have no idea how we stored enough food for the entire thing.
This was not our first time being on the road between Boise and Cascade Reservoir but it was the first time we were driving our RV on this road. The road between Boise and Cascade Reservoir was our first mountain steep road followed. Another first was that this would be our first time off the grid in a National Forest Campground.
Additionally, this was the first time trees raked the top of our RV on the way to our campsite. And this was the first time we pulled into our campsite backward after going around the one-way campsite row backward. This was also the first time we needed to be 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 is on the northwest side of Cascade Lake and 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 of the path. Being on the centerline would have been nice, but campgrounds near that location would have been way too busy. We had a lakefront site and because we pulled in backward we had a view of the lake from the RV. I can’t say for sure you can get this view elsewhere but I know that it is rare. We had a nearly private beach, and shade in the afternoon. Typically in August in central Idaho, the sky would be clear. I was in a happy place.
How was the eclipse?
A total solar eclipse is awesome I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. Everything turned out perfectly. As the sun was blocked the birds all quit chirping and the colors of twilight made the world look like a better place. Then as gradually the midday sun peaked out from behind the moon.
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. During the 2024 total solar 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.
Here is a link to our planning for the next eclipse. Total Solar Eclipse 2024