Chasing the 2017 eclipse across Wyoming

© 2017-Kemmerer Gazette

This “Great Eclipse of 2017” business has had me traveling Wyoming from one end of the state to the other.

In recent weeks, we have been in Wilson (west of Jackson) to the Terry Bison Ranch (south of Cheyenne), and everywhere in between.

And we have not been alone — there must be a million big RVs and 10 million motorcycles out there. But I exaggerate.

This latest adventure involves me promoting the big eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017. We put special souvenir covers on my three coffee table books. We are promoting the books as souvenirs for those folks coming to our state to view this astronomical wonder.

We have sold more than 30,000 of these books over the last four years. They are surely the best-selling coffee table books in the state’s history. Thanks to the wonderful work of 54 Cowboy State photographers, the books have been a big hit. Most of those same wonderful artists will be trying to capture unforgettable images on the day of the eclipse.

Our small company includes just me and my wife Nancy as the only full-time staff. So when it came time to distribute books, we drew the short straw and traveled off across the state.

We got lost trying to take the “old road” from Wheatland to Torrington. We saw some great rock formations on some bumpy gravel roads. A rancher named Spencer saved the day by steering us back to the paved roads. Linda Fabian gave me perfect directions, but I botched it.

Wheatland goes dark for 51 long seconds at 11:46 a.m. on Aug. 21. Lusk goes dark at 11:46 a.m. for 112 seconds.

In Douglas, Helga Bull said her town is all-in for the big event, as the town will go dark for 142 seconds at 11:44 a.m.

In Casper, the visitors bureau is preparing for the best (or the worst). A big new downtown pavilion is taking shape and they want it ready by the big day when the sun goes dark at 11:42 a.m. for 146 seconds. They have lots of spectacular events planned.

In Riverton, Jim Davis at the Chamber is working hard. Jackie Dorothy at Wind River Casino has a full slate of amazing events scheduled.  Gigantic crowds will be headed her way on the big day. The sun goes dark for 133 seconds at 11:39 a.m.

Paula McCormick and her crew at the Wind River Visitors Council have a full slate organized. Concerts are being held all over the state, with a big one in Lander the night of the eclipse, says chamber manager Brian Fable.

In Jackson, Anna Olson and her chamber crew are busy.  One observer described Jackson’s situation as “a crisis.”  It will be pitch black there at 11:34 a.m. for 135 seconds.

This is the biggest deal in the last 99 years when it comes to a coast-to-coast full-on eclipse of the moon covering the sun. Earlier, I predicted one million visitors would come to Wyoming.

The totality of the eclipse goes through the center of our state. Jackson, Riverton, Casper and Glendo are all smack dab in the totality zone, which means it will be dark for over two minutes. Here in my hometown of Lander, the dark will last only 67 seconds at 11:30 a.m., which is similar to Pinedale and Thermopolis.

Many folks are staging tours so you can see the eclipse from a mountaintop, deep inside a canyon, or out in the middle of the desert.

Wyoming Whiskey created 6,000 special Eclipse boxes for their product. “Sold out already,” owner Brad Mead told me three weeks ago. Other places are staging booze blasts so you can really get “eclipsed” on this most famous day of 2017.

Business people all over Wyoming are stocking up on souvenirs. The most popular items are T-shirts. Each town seems to have its own custom T-shirt. Some are really neat, and some are sort of hokey. I predict they will all sell out.

We only had 3,000 books left in our inventory, and they are selling fast. You can find them at fine stores around the state or online at wyomingwonders.com.

My prediction is that our state will truly be overwhelmed. Traffic jams caused by stupid drivers could paralyze some places like in and out of Jackson, in and out of Casper and on Interstate 25 between Denver and Casper.

The biggest potential spoiler to the whole experience will be smoke from forest fires. The smoke might add some color to the experience, but our famous blue skies could be gray. Let’s hope it does not cloud up and rain.

With all that said, I think it will be an unforgettable experience. Stay put and enjoy it. See you around.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 30,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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