At mostly the last minute, we decided to drive to Wyoming to witness the 2017 August 21 Total Solar Eclipse. Why Wyoming? Mainly because the historical weather records showed us that this was the best bet for clear skies. We had also been through the area in 2009 and were somewhat familiar with it, and there were destinations we wanted to see again. So we made the plans and on Friday August 18th morning 6am, we headed out.

The intent was to find a campground somewhere west of Chicago, but circumstances beyond our control, namely +60 minutes on the 401 highway trying to get through the city of Toronto, and worse yet, 1 hour 45 minutes from encountering the end of the line at the Bluewater bridge in Sarnia, to getting through US customs. Arrg!
We ended up in the city of Peru, Illinois, much later than hoped and packed it in after 12 hrs 18 min + another 2 hr 45 min or 15 hours on the road and 1225km (765 miles).

Day Two, or Saturday as the locals called it, had us travelling west as far as possible and find a campsite before sunset for ease of setup. We did approx 10 hours that day and 1120km (700 miles). Clear day with high temperatures in the low 30sC. We ended up in a small campsite that could have used a little more work. The tenting area was near the only creek in the area and we were inundated with mosquitos. Double Ugg.

Day Three (Sunday) was intended to be a short day so we could stop at Wall, South Dakota and get some souvenirs… which we did! Then a leisurely drive up to our destination, the KOA campsite at Devils Tower Wyoming. We arrived relatively early after only a 4 hours drive 450km (283 miles). It was a great campsite with a great view (more of that later). Mostly it was to rest and prep for the next day, Eclipse day. We had filled up with gas near the end of the day, as we were preparing against pumps being empty in the Eclipse Zone. We checked the next day weather forecasts and things were on track for a three hour run due south to the centerline. Another 30C day with temperatures that night plunging to near 12C.

Day Four, Eclipse Day! (Monday)
We were up bright and early, just after 04:00 local (Mountain Daylight Time) or UT-6 and headed out shortly afterward. We stopped and topped off again with coffee and gas in Newcastle and continued southward to light traffic. Passing through Lusk and then Jay-Em a distance, suddenly there were cars everywhere parked in ditches, well off the highway and shoulders. We picked a spot just north of the 2nd Rawhide Creek Bridge, not knowing exactly how far away the centerline was or where exactly we were. But the thought was with so many people, there may not have been space further ahead.
We set up to perfect weather and amidst a lot of technical issues with mounts and cameras and power, the eclipse came and went and was 100% awesome. The trip back was not nearly so smooth. While 90%+ of the people left after totality, we stayed until the end of the event, another 90+ minutes later. We packed up and headed north and ran into a traffic jam approx 3km south of Lusk and it stayed stop and go for over an hour before we finally got into town. Stopped off for a bite to eat and ran into Jennifer from Toronto coming out of the Subway shop! Amazing!
Afterward we kept going north and ran into yet another huge traffic jam a few km south of the turnoff to Rapid City. That one was MVC that slowed us down. We managed to get back to camp much later than expected but still early evening, where we were able to partake in their nightly screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Amazing!
It did get cold so we packed it in. Too tired to do any astroimaging. Another 12C night.

Day Five (Tuesday) was meant to be an easy day, about 5 hours of driving with stops in Deadwood, Wall and then a slow tour through the Badlands to our campsite inside the Badlands. Deadwood was fun. We have only seen Season1 of the TV series and are looking forward to the remainder as soon as possible!
We stopped in Wall again for supplies and then headed into the Badlands, going the opposite direction this time from the 2009 trip. Awesome terrain and scenery. Highly recommended! The campsite was basically in the desert and we had a Park Ranger, Ranger Ed, give a great talk on the background of the park, and a guy from the Tucson Astronomy Club with a C11 showing us Jupiter. Kim managed to look out the tent window all night at the stars. Very hot and dry, over 33C. Not so cold in the night, maybe 15C.

Day Six (Wednesday) was a big travelling day, albeit not backtracking the same route we took on the way out. We had hoped to make it further east than we did, but then there was that pesky time zone change and we lost an hour of time and sunlight. So we managed 9 hours of driving to get into West Salem Wisconsin just as the sun was setting, 923km (577 miles).

Day Seven (Thursday) we had hoped to make it all the way home, but another pesky time zone change left us well short and after 6 days of driving, we were getting cranky. Rain had started to fall in bits and pieces as well. Getting through or around Chicago again was even worse then last time. Maybe an extra 1.5 hours to get by. The border and bridge crossing went well, maybe 10 minutes in total. We ended up near London Ontario just before sunset and decided to call it a day.
11 hours and 1165 km (727 miles) later.

Day Eight (Friday) saw us encounter horrible 401 traffic through and before and after Toronto and the 5 hour estimate turned into 6-7 hours before we pulled into the driveway 415km (260 miles) later.

Total trip was over 6100km in 200 hours
Was it worth it? Totally!

Here is a better map of the eclipse zone showing the relative positions of Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. We were on the blue centerline in Wyoming near the Nebraska border.

This is a closer view of the Wyoming/Nebraska border and shows where we set up, on highway 85 south of Jay Em, near the creek/bridge just north of the centerline. We believe we at
Lat 42 deg 25 min 03.09 seconds North
Long 104 deg 21 min 22.56 second West
with a total duration of 2 minutes 28.8 seconds of Totality


elevation 1399m (4590 feet)
42° 25′ 03.09″ N <—> 42.41752° 2m 28.8s (total solar eclipse)
104° 21′ 22.56″ W <—> -104.35627°
Umbral depth : 97.48%
Umbral depth : 1.4km (0.9mi)
Path width : 109.4km (68.0mi)
Obscuration : 100.00%
Magnitude at maximum : 1.01442
Moon/Sun size ratio : 1.02958
Umbral vel. : 0.744km/s (1665 mph)
Event (ΔT=68.8s) Date Time (UT) Alt Azi P V LC
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 2017/08/21 16:24:58.2 +44.5° 120.5° 288° 13.0
Start of total eclipse (C2) : 2017/08/21 17:46:19.8 +55.5° 146.7° 108° 07.6 -1.1s
Maximum eclipse (MAX) : 2017/08/21 17:47:34.2 +55.6° 147.2° 200° 04.5
End of total eclipse (C3) : 2017/08/21 17:48:48.6 +55.7° 147.7° 291° 01.5 -0.6s
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2017/08/21 19:13:33.8 +59.3° 186.3° 111° 08.4

If we had made it to the actual centerline, totality would have lasted 2 minutes 28.9 seconds
Lusk elevation 1599 m (5246 feet)