9/8/17 Lytham UK

UPDATED 29/8/2017

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PALNET.CO.UK is grateful to NASA for their free resources.

The astounding background photo of the diamond ring moment was taken by our companion Cathy Grimes. Thank you for sharing!

The map shows our plan. After ten days touring the Western USA, we will base ourselves at Jackson Hole on the day before the eclipse. But first we arrive in San Francisco, a couple of days before our group, to explore for ourselves. OH? It is cold and foggy, that is a surprise! Then we find out that August is when the Pacific fog is at its best/worst.

Anyway... The Chicago Cubs visit The SF Giants and we have tickets. It is best of three and the score is 1-1. SF win 3-1 so take the match. I find I have a new interest in Baseball and reckon myself now to be a Giants fan, although this may require a second mortgage with the price of a bag of unshelld peanuts at $8 and $10.75 for a small beer.

Whole families come to the game in order to a) eat hot dogs, b) use cell phones and c) go early. However everyone stands hand on heart for the National Anthem beautifully sung by a young lady. I sincerely sure love those words, God bless America.

10/8 San Francisco

Our AirB&B is on 20th floor with a fantastic view of the fog. The interior is interesting being mainly cushions and tea lights. Very comfortable. I am hopefully comfortable that buildings are Earthquake proof these days.

No No NO, that is Alcatraz not our digs but, as a matter of fact, neither have a TV. The tour is awsome. (Did I just say that?). We all have audio directing us and telling the most incrediable story. Everyone is quiet, everyone is thoughtful. It is a profound experience.

Unlike some, we leave Alcatraz and as it is a pleasant evening so we Uber up to Twin Peaks. Upon arrival the weather changes suddenly to a vicious cold wind and we become stranded. The walk home is long and arduous, but at least, downhill.

11/8 San Francisco

We continue to explore San Fransisco today for ourselves using the trolley bus and some public transport to get to Fishermen's Wharf. Here I find a S'mores Crepe, crushed biscuit, chocolate and marshmallow. My eyes become crossed because it is so sweet. I did not finish it and had no further chocolate on the trip.

We catch up with the well known Lombard Street which is very steep and twisty. An endless stream of cars comes down it with cell phones hanging out of the windows. Belatedly I discover that the middle letter of Francisco is not an s.

We say good bye to the view from our AirB&B, there are some hours at mid day when the fog clears. SF is not at all what I expected.

We check in to the hotel where we are to meet our group. They arrive late after a bad journey compounded by some clerical errors from the organisers at home costing yet more time at the airport searching for someone who arrived early like us. We met Shane Boocock a fantastically well travelled fella from Burnley, who would be our guide for the trip. Yuri from Siberia would be our driver. He blessed the coach and Jesus every day. There would be good humoured dialogue about that during the trip since almost everyone else on the trip was from a scientific background and probably all Darwinists. Perhaps E-Day would change his mind? (Spoiler: It did not). Anyway, despite us being a somewhat unusual group from their perspective, both turned out to be fantastic at their work and did things for us above and beyond the call of duty.

12/8 San Francisco

Morning guided driving tour of San Francisco's Union Square, Civic Plaza and Golden Gate Park and visit California Academy of the Sciences.

Things start to become apparent. I enjoyed the ball game and Alcatraz very much but why is this the most visited city in the US? We learn that the Silicon Valley has pushed reality prices through the roof. Only the extremely wealthy live here and yet SF has the highest homeless population of any US city. The Academy of Science is a big day out for families but I think misses the mark a bit.

13/8/ Yosemite

AH! 30 miles inland and the weather improves no end. It gets hot and Sunny. We set off through the Sierra Nevada foothills to Yosemite National Park.

Camping and the great outdoors are favourites with the Americans and this is a great place to do it. Gold panning and white water rafting are popular. But the highlight for me was the wonderful medical centre who examine my leg which has been getting hot in the last day or so. They give me a ten day antibiotic course and it starts to get a bit better. They tell me to put my feet up which is a problem when facing eight days and 2,200 miles in a replacement coach.

14/8 Las Vegas

A LONG drive to Las Vegas for one night at Bally's Hotel. We were here before so we limit ourselves to watching a couple of Bellagio Fountains and a short trip to the Venetian. I lost $1 but Liz made $1.40 on the Starbucks card.

Bellagio Fountains #1

Bellagio Fountains #2

On seeing a sign at a casino 'Beers $3' I go in.
Peter: A beer please.
Barman: What kind of beer?
Peter: a $3 beer please sir.
Barman: Sorry sir , blah blah they are $6.50, you want one?
Peter: What kind on high roller do you think I am? Keep it.

Next Casino, I go in.
Peter: A beer please.
Barman: What kind of beer?
Peter (learned his lesson): a $6.50 beer please.
Barman: Sorry sir , blah blah they start at $9.50, you want one?

Then an early start, but even now after a few days these early starts are ok because of the time difference.

15/8 Zion

Cross into Utah, drive to Zion National Park.

OH! I did not know that.

The park is a narrow valley cut by the Virgin River flanked by sandstone walls rising more than 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Melt water seeps into the sandstone and takes twelve hundred years to find a way out in the form of a spring here and there. We can hop on and off the courtsey bus to our hearts content. So we do so.

We stay in the first of several motels. The rooms from now on tended to have microwaves and fridges and several times we stayed in to use them with things bought at a neaby store.

16/8 Bryce

The outdoor activity lifestyle continues for the locals in this magnificent scenery of Bryce Canyon. The land was made from sandy deposits under sea then pushed up where erosion has taken place forming 'Hoodoos'. Tall misshapen structures which dwarf all the tourists. The Hoodoos then create wind tunnels that accelerates the erosion process. The red landscape is a favourite for photographers at Sun rise and Sun set.

We walked two hundred feet down a path (The floor would be about 1000 feet down) and returned with laboured breathing as we are now at an altitude of 8000 feet.

We see the Moon on a regular basis now as it careers towards the Sun, its crescent shrinking all the time. It builds our excitement. The five day forecast for Jackson is however uninspiring. Chins up.

There is a trip to do some sky watching in the evening to avail the excellent dark conditions.

Outside Bryce Canyon is Ruby's Lodge. A hotel and shop complex with a big turn over of tourists. It is almost as if it was built there specially. On most evenings they put on a Rodeo Show, Bull Riding, Roping, Bronco Riding and many events for the young riders like Sheep riding and horse racing. They all show guts as the fall off and then get straight back on. It is a long way down.

17/8 Salt Lake City

Longish drive to Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah which would be our base for the next mammoth day in Yellowstone. We have a hour at the Temple complex and mall.

It is very hot here, difficult to imagine the Winter Olympics were held here.

The story of the founding of this city is long and complicated and I think involves an angel visiting these two chaps when they were camping one day. Brigham young is credited with building the city. A pioneer driving West into what was then Mexico. Young was a polygamist, marrying a total of 55 wives. By the time of his death, Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives. Now the Mormons are restricted to just two by Federal law. And strangely that is the number of beers they restrict me to as well?

18/8 Yellowstone

Drive to overnight in West Yellowstone with a stop at Grand Prismatic Springs.

Good chatting at the local bar to a couple who explained about how the geysers have changed over the last twenty years following Earth tremors and shakes. Some stop altogether, some change their pattern. New ones appear.

19/8 Yellowstone

Full day to explore Yellowstone's highlights.

We had over an hour to wait for the ETE and it happened nine minutes late. In the still above, Shane had pointed out the best position regarding the wind and the Sun. It produced a nice clean line on the left with a spray to the right.

We drive the full figure of eight track which takes us all day. The road is made through the forrest and there is sometimes little to see. Some of our party get 'Tree Sick' on the coach as they continually flash past.

Occasionally there are breaks in the trees and we all keep a look out for Elk, Moose and Bison, seeing them.

20/8 The Tetons

As we set off in the coach we passed the Old Faithful site and, LOL, amazingly it was spouting as we passed. How we laughed. Double Bubble.

Our journey now took us through Grand Teton National Park visiting Jenny Lake with its views of rugged Grand Teton Peaks towering to more than 4,000m above sea level.

We continued to our Jackson hotel to prepare for next day's eclipse. At least we are in the zone of totality now. An eclipse briefing was given in the evening by Dr John Mason. All along the way our party were concerned about traffic on EDay. Dr John told us this was unlikley to be the case. He explained that strangely the US population generally did not appreciate the difference between 99% totality ( a peck on the cheek) and 100% ( a night of passion). So he thought not many would be taking the trouble to locate themselves. He was right.

21/8 Wilson WY

We set out from Jackson Hole to the ranch which is situated in a suburb named WILSON. That is a Twighlight Zone moment if ever there was one.

43.545838, -110.831433 is where I made it, but I stand to be corrected.

Last night Dr John had explained how the exact location had been chosen. Not only for the good chances of a clear sky but for the mountains which would be facing the Sun. He expected beautifl lighting effects on them during the partial phases. This is what I decided to set my video on.

Dr John Mason gets some snaps of my pinhole projection.

The path of totality crosses the USA an interactive map of the path is HERE You can drill into it. The longest duration of totality (marked GE) will be 2 minutes 40 seconds at 36░58.5'N 87░39.3'W in Christian County, Kentucky just North West of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. As you move away from this point east or west the duration of totality falls. Totality can never last more than 7ámin 31ás, and is usually shorter than 5 minutes. Some exact details can be seen HERE.

We saw a magnificent eclipse. (Liz usually uses a glass, but where could you find one like mine in the USA? Yosemite perhaps!).

22/8 Salt Lake City

A day of reflection as we bus it back to Salt Lake City. We get to see more of it than when we were here a few days ago. It is sensationally bland with huge architecture. What goes on here? No Idea. There are a lot of Mormons here, working their way through to becomeing better Mormons by being a waiter for example. White shirts, black trouser and a certain look in the eye and a bag over the shoulder.

But they want to help and they are strongly enthusiastic about life and communication. It is all no problem, I can even have a beer because I brought it with me from WY.

the moon and the sun
hide behind the curtain sky
to kiss each other

Haiku Anon

Simon Calder was with us and later wrote an article: HERE.

I was the man with the Wallmart box pin hole camera.

Steven & Helen Burt sent me this animated satellite image: HERE.

As the YouTube videos build up I realise how good our group was because we were all serious about it. Public locations suffered a lot from;

23/8 Chicago

We say goodbye to our group and fly out over the GSL to Chicago. On arrival, the Metro Blue Line takes us to California and as soon as stepping out of the station I like the place a lot. Our AirB&B is just around the corner. We settle in and go out for a Mexican.

24/8 Chicago

We do one of the hop on hop off bus tours. I love America. They provide so much for everyone. Almost.

Fountains everywhere all working by the way. They do provide cooling spray as well as beautifying the city.

25/8 Chicago

Our kind AirB&B host allows us to leave our cases in the hall which is on the way to the airport from the centre of Chicago. We set off with our bus/metro passes and have a wonderful time travelling around. Chicago has overhead trains in the city and we just ride them. The points system is amazing as so many lines share tracks and some simply cross at right angles. We go around the centre and out to the suburb of Wilson travelling back by bus.

Driver's View Pink Line

What a great place. We are lucky to experience a sudden squall which whips in from Lake Michigan with freezing stair rod rain. Dry in five minutes afterwards. But reflecting on the megga minus temperatures they get here in winter.

26/8 Home

WOW what a trip. Did that all actually happen?

Bonus Photos

Salt Lake City: First time I had to call reception because the Gideon Bible was not where it should be.

Chicago Cat & Mouse games shop.

Chicago Mini Golf par excellence. Contoured fairways and neat ideas. Clubs and balls ready to choose from.

Our guide, companion and complete travellaholic - Shane Boocock.
Shane's stuff #1
Shane's stuff #2
C'mon Maaan update this stuff! Miss you!

What was missing on the trip!

OH dear. SF played the Cubs and gave us this, but after going to Chicago... well I am a Cubs fan now. Sorry SF.

Day 20

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