Bill King

One fellow said, “We haven’t seen a total eclipse of the sun in almost one-hundred years.” I felt pretty sure he was lying. He didn’t look a day over fifty. As you most likely have heard, probably 3,489 times last week alone, it really has been nearly that long since the residents of the United States have seen one. It happened on June 8, 1918.

My dad would have been two years old at that time, so even if he saw it, he probably didn’t remember. The trek of the eclipse back then was similar to this year’s. It went from Washington State to Florida. In Opelika, Alabama, we were not in the 100 percent zone this time, but close. I was close to being in the 100 percent zone, but I left a day too early. Thousands of people flocked to Helen, Georgia over the weekend and my family and I were among them, but not for the same reason as the others. They went to see the eclipse. We went to celebrate my daughter’s thirtieth birthday by tubing down the Chattahoochee River. She says you only turn thirty once. I know better because I’ve done it twice now. Ashley wanted to go to Helen, go tubing, and eat some German food.

We planned the trip months ago and made our reservations, not realizing that it was the weekend before the great eclipse. I had not been to Helen in quite a few years. I was surprised at how the town had grown and could not believe the traffic. I soon learned the huge crowd was there to see the eclipse.

I guess that is like having seats at the Iron Bowl on the fifty-yard line, whereas to view the eclipse from Opelika is like sitting on about the ten. You can still see what’s going on, but it’s hard to tell if they made the first down or not!

The problem with being in Helen on eclipse weekend was one of over-crowding. We did tube down the river but there were so many other tubers that it reminded me of riding bumper-cars, or should I say bumper-tubes! It reminded me of an Atlanta traffic jam (which we experienced on the way home too).

When we walked the sidewalks of downtown, we didn’t have to worry about tripping over something and falling. You might trip, but you couldn’t fall! When we went to lunch, they told us it would be a forty-five minute wait, so we left. We went to a sandwich café and waited an hour! After all, who wants to wait for forty-five minutes to eat?

No, I did not have eclipse glasses. I had some 3-D glasses from the last movie I had seen, but I decided that would not work, or be wise. In one drug store, I asked if they had any eclipse sunglasses. The lady replied, “Yes, we just got in a bunch.” She must have thought I said clip-on sunglasses. Do you need to buy a pair of clip-ons at a cheap price?

Well, I have missed getting to look up at the sun, during a total eclipse. The good news is we won’t have to wait another ninety-nine years for the next one. NASA predicts another on April 8, 2024. The only problem is the trek will be from Texas through the northeast.

I feel a road trip coming on! A total eclipse is indeed an amazing phenomenon, but it’s most amazing that God created the moon, the sun, and stars, and put them in orbit in the first place!

Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. Visit for more information.

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