My fifth time to (or through) Waynesville

In the past three weeks, I’ve passed the Waynesville exit four times — once on August 2 while taking our mission team catch their flight in St. Louis; once about six hours later on the way back home; once on August 17 while driving back to St. Louis to pick up the team; and once about five hours after that on the way back home — but until today I had never actually stopped in Waynesville. Who would, except the people who live there?!?

Today, I did stop on the west side of Waynesville, or rather, Andrew stopped. I had arranged for him to be released from school at 10:00 AM so he could make his 10:20 AM dental appointment (two fillings; hopefully the LAST two fillings), and then as soon as he could get home, our plan was to head northeast as far as we could get by 1:13 PM to have a maximal view of today’s total solar eclipse. I happen to have a personal conviction about driving the speed limit, but since Andrew doesn’t share that conviction, he would be our designated driver. We had a couple of challenges, what with the school not releasing him on time, and the dentist’s office misplacing my credit card information, but eventually his teeth were filled, he came home from the dentist AQAP, I was waiting for him in the passenger seat of the Durango with the engine running, lunch packed, lawn chairs loaded, eclipse glasses in purse, and all he had to do was slide into the driver’s seat and BEV.

Which he did. To the tune of about 84 mph.  = )

Around 12:30 PM, I put on my patriotic eclipse glasses and looked up through the sunroof at the sun, and OH.MY. Was that ever something to see! I was so excited that I had him get off at the next exit so he could look too. And then on we sped toward Rolla. But I wanted to stop at 1:05 so we could actually watch the moon move across the sun, and 1:05 found us at the (first? only?) Waynesville exit, where we pulled off and into a gravel parking lot.

It stayed a bright sunny summer day. That is, it never got “dark,” but it did get dimmer; as if it was hazy or smoggy, or kind of like an imperceptibly gradual shift from full brightness to the way things look when you put on your sunglasses. What absolutely blew my mind was how, with almost all of the sun obscured, that little tiny sliver of sun was enough make it nearly as bright as a sunny August afternoon would normally be. And although it didn’t really feel noticeably cooler to me, I did notice on the Durango’s thermometer that the temp had dropped from 91 to 86.

We stood there in the parking lot, craning our necks till they hurt. Then I got out my trusting gray softball-game-watching bag chair, which made the leaning back thing much more comfortable, and we watched the little orange crescent move very, very slowly from lying in repose at the bottom of the disc, counterclockwise around to the upper right “corner” of the disc, where it was gradually getting very slightly fatter. At that point we said we’d had enough and headed back to Springfield to pick up My Hero, who was returning that very afternoon from a nearly three-week mission trip to Niger and Nigeria.

All’s well that ends well, and all’s sleepy that’s jet-lagged, and Andrew and I agreed that our memorable twenty minutes in Waynesville had been worth the effort.

I drove home… at 70 mph.

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