It does rain sometimes in Wyoming. It may rain there on August 21. Or another forest fire could be sending dense smoke across the state (assuming the ones doing it now have even been put out by then).
I can certainly understand why people are going to Wyoming to view the eclipse — totality will pass directly over the part of the state where Mrs. McG and I want to move to when she retires. It’s a high desert and the presumption is that the sun’s always shining in the desert.
Well, not exactly. Even if it isn’t raining, the sky can be obscured by clouds. The anvil of a thunderstorm dumping on a mountain range 40 miles away can put a town in the valley in the shade; in fact, the town may get nothing from that storm but shade, and a spate of gusty wind as it collapses.
And then there’s the remoteness. Gawkers by the tens of thousands seem to be assuming because it’s far from big cities it must be too difficult for other people to get there. Well, you do kind of have to be wanting to go there to wind up there — but a total solar eclipse is a strong motivation, and the whole world knows it’s coming.
Places in the path of this celestial-yet-man-caused disaster have been planning for months, if not years, to deal with the once-in-a-lifetime influx of crowds, expecting to find themselves up to their armpits in people who think a flying visit to Wyoming should be no more challenging than a drive to the playground.
It’s a mercy that this eclipse will be visible across the entire width of the country; I’d hate to imagine the trouble if it were only happening in Wyoming. While I do find myself wishing we were already living there so we could see the show from our front porch, lately I’m kind of relieved we don’t. Trying to stock up ahead of the invasion would be like shopping here in the South when there’s snow in the forecast.
Furthermore, if we had land of any amount we’d need to worry about trespassers — or set up at the gates and take people’s money. If we didn’t already have a landline, we’d better get one. As it is, my idea of observing the eclipse online from here by looking in on webcams? Might not work.
Update, August 19: It’s just occurred to me that, as rough as it’s going to be for residents in many of these small towns — not only in Wyoming but across the country — it could be worse. It could be an annual event lasting a week and a half…