GREENFIELD — Nearly 2 million Americans live within a day’s drive to see the total solar eclipse, and many will be traveling to get a better view, according to NASA.
Among them are a handful of Hancock County residents who have made travel plans to head south ahead of Monday’s celestial event.
While people in every state will be able to see a partial eclipse, the path of totality, when the moon completely covers the sun, is thin. That path stretches across 14 states from northwestern Oregon to southeastern South Carolina, according to NASA’s webpage dedicated to the eclipse.
It will be the first total eclipse in the contiguous United States in 38 years.
The eclipse’s longest duration will be about 2 minutes and 40 seconds near Carbondale, Illinois, according to NASA, but cities and towns across 14 states promise to provide a good show.
Early estimates suggest more than 1 million people will travel to the path of totality to see the rare celestial event.
Greenfield resident Andrew Clark has been planning this trip for the past three months.
Sometime this weekend, he’ll pack up a cargo van he rented and head for Kentucky.
Clark plans to spend Monday in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a town that’s been dubbed “Eclipseville” and is about four hours from Greenfield.
At least 100,000 people are expected to impede on the town not much bigger than Greenfield, Clark said.
He’s always been interested in storm chasing and weather, and when he learned he was in driving distance of seeing the total eclipse, he knew he had to go, he said.
Hotels in the area were going for $500 or a more a night — out of his budget for the trip — so he got a little creative.
He’ll pack a cargo van with everything he needs — solar eclipse glasses, food and water — and spend the day parked on a golf course open for viewing.
There’s no telling whether the weather will cooperate that day so Clark is ready to head west if needed.
He’s prepared for other hiccups, too. Traffic on major interstates is expected to be congested so he’s ready for traffic jams, even gridlock. The small towns people are headed to might run out of gas or food, officials have said, so Clark will pack a cooler full of essentials and get gas early.
If all goes well, he’ll have the rare chance to see a total eclipse, which makes all the planning worth it, he said.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a great show,” Clark said.
Great Smoky Mountains
Cindy and Dave Carver won’t have to leave their cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains to get a good view of the eclipse.
Months ago, the couple planned a minivacation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park after hearing the park would offer a variety of events celebrating the solar eclipse.
The Greenfield residents are looking forward to their getaway that begins Sunday, and they’re hoping by hanging out for a few days after the eclipse, they’ll miss some of the traffic.
When Cindy heard they could see a total eclipse by driving just a few hours south of Greenfield, she began looking for a place to stay, she said. She’s not seen one in her lifetime and is looking forward to taking in the whole experience.
They have some plans to explore the area a bit, but on Monday, they’ll avoid the crowds and stay put in their cabin.
They’ve got their glasses and are ready to see the once-in-a-lifetime event.
“We’re just going to be off in the middle of nowhere,” Cindy said.