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The traveling to Texas thread

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#51 sandman1330

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Posted 07 March 2024 - 08:28 PM

I'm all worried now!

 

I couldn't commit to the trip until a couple months ago, as I wasn't sure I'd have the time off work. I'm also bringing my 16yr old son, who is becoming an absolute astronomy nut, but I don't want him to miss too much school.

 

This means we're arriving Sunday night into Houston, and staying overnight in College Station. I figured this would be a good central point from which I can head northeast or southwest to chase the best weather. Ennis is the primary plan, but I'm ready to travel as far southwest as the Mexican border if I need to.

 

But all this talk of traffic has me worried... We are prepared to get up early (we rope dropped Disneyland at 6am, so I'm no stranger to being an early bird). The max I should have to drive is 3hrs, but that's in good traffic. I really don't want to end up stuck in traffic! Hopefully a very early start will make sure this doesn't happen.

 

Plan after the eclipse is to go back to Houston. Hitting the Space Center at opening the next morning, then off to the airport for an evening flight home. Hopefully the drive back to Houston isn't the nightmare that it sounds like it might be...


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#52 Cajundaddy

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Posted 07 March 2024 - 09:15 PM

^^ Just hit the road early and you should be fine.  All us TSE nerds will be the only ones on the road at 6am and the rest of the unaware masses will start driving around 9-10 am.  


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#53 JayElDee

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Posted 07 March 2024 - 09:24 PM

^^^that's good to know

I too will be in College Station and google tells me it's just under 2 hours to the centerline, on the side of some farm to market road.


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#54 RossMacMan

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Posted 07 March 2024 - 09:33 PM

I'm all worried now!

 

I couldn't commit to the trip until a couple months ago, as I wasn't sure I'd have the time off work. I'm also bringing my 16yr old son, who is becoming an absolute astronomy nut, but I don't want him to miss too much school.

 

This means we're arriving Sunday night into Houston, and staying overnight in College Station. I figured this would be a good central point from which I can head northeast or southwest to chase the best weather. Ennis is the primary plan, but I'm ready to travel as far southwest as the Mexican border if I need to.

 

But all this talk of traffic has me worried... We are prepared to get up early (we rope dropped Disneyland at 6am, so I'm no stranger to being an early bird). The max I should have to drive is 3hrs, but that's in good traffic. I really don't want to end up stuck in traffic! Hopefully a very early start will make sure this doesn't happen.

 

Plan after the eclipse is to go back to Houston. Hitting the Space Center at opening the next morning, then off to the airport for an evening flight home. Hopefully the drive back to Houston isn't the nightmare that it sounds like it might be...

I expect that Ennis is going to be one of the primary locations that Houstonites travel to for totality, so honestly I'd avoid it and pretty try to stay away from I-45 which I expect to probably be the worst road for congestion.  If staying in College Station (Howdy, I'm TAMU class of '06) then I think your best destination is going to be Waco, or just past north of it in West or Hillsboro if you want to be closer to the centerline.  Just watch out for the speed trap in Riesel (if you're so lucky to have clear enough roads to be able to speed) and if you go on past Waco, snag some Kolaches at Czech Stop in West.  If you get an early start on Monday, you should be several hours ahead of the Houston traffic.

The return trip to Houston is likely to be very slow going and where you deal with the worst traffic.  Don't be too married to those JSC plans, as a post-midnight arrival in H-town seems extremely likely and you're likely to be pretty exhausted.  But if you can make it, it's a cool visit - very neat to look over the Apollo-era MSC and the mockups in building 9, as well as the enormous Saturn V.


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#55 sandman1330

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Posted 07 March 2024 - 10:20 PM

I expect that Ennis is going to be one of the primary locations that Houstonites travel to for totality, so honestly I'd avoid it and pretty try to stay away from I-45 which I expect to probably be the worst road for congestion.  If staying in College Station (Howdy, I'm TAMU class of '06) then I think your best destination is going to be Waco, or just past north of it in West or Hillsboro if you want to be closer to the centerline.  Just watch out for the speed trap in Riesel (if you're so lucky to have clear enough roads to be able to speed) and if you go on past Waco, snag some Kolaches at Czech Stop in West.  If you get an early start on Monday, you should be several hours ahead of the Houston traffic.

The return trip to Houston is likely to be very slow going and where you deal with the worst traffic.  Don't be too married to those JSC plans, as a post-midnight arrival in H-town seems extremely likely and you're likely to be pretty exhausted.  But if you can make it, it's a cool visit - very neat to look over the Apollo-era MSC and the mockups in building 9, as well as the enormous Saturn V.

Thanks for the info! All things being equal (weather) maybe I will look more into the Waco area.

 

I’ve already purchased the Mission Control tram tour and tickets for JSC - times were selling out fast, so I took the risk. Our Houston hotel is close, and they open at 10, so even a midnight arrival in Houston shouldn’t be too bad. Assuming we get to our observation site early enough to observe a good chunk of partiality prior to totality, I’ll probably hit the road for Houston shortly after totality ends. Try and beat some of the rush…


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#56 bunyon

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 10:49 AM

It's really hard to know, but I suspect most drivers will leave as soon as totality ends. Most aren't going to be amateur astronomers but people there specifically to see totality. And a lot of us with scopes and interest in the partial phases might be with family who wants to leave.

 

That's a long way of saying, beating the traffic may not be possible. Hopefully traffic isn't bad but, as everyone is saying, have food, water and a full tank of gas before totality.


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#57 maj

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 12:25 PM

Anyone have any success today getting a day pass for any of the Texas parks on E-Day?  Availability seemed to disappear instantly.  By some quirk, we got one at Lost Maples with three of our party trying this morning at 8:00:01.  


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#58 sandman1330

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 12:26 PM

I think I've settled on Gatesville, thanks to the advice of Rossmacman. Keeps me away from the Dallas area, and I was able to reserve parking at the civic center, where we can set up on the adjacent baseball fields. Knowing I'll have somewhere to park, and not have to walk a long distance with my scope setup, lawn chairs, etc. really helps with piece of mind.

 

I'm wondering how deep down the rabbit hole I should go... I am considering reserving similar parking slots northeast and southwest down the line, just to hedge my bets on somewhere with clear skies. What's $20 when I'm already travelling from Northern Canada for a once in a lifetime experience! My only pause on this is I don't want to be that guy that hogs all the reservations for everyone else. Perhaps if the weather doesn't work out in Gatesville, I'll just shoot for a walmart parking lot in whatever locale I end up chasing the sun into...


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#59 sandman1330

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 12:26 PM

Anyone have any success today getting a day pass for any of the Texas parks on E-Day?  Availability seemed to disappear instantly.  By some quirk, we got one at Lost Maples with three of our party trying this morning at 8:00:01.  

I just reserved here:

 

https://www.gatesvil.../eclipseviewing

 

Looks like a good option?


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#60 Anhydrite

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 12:33 PM

It's really hard to know, but I suspect most drivers will leave as soon as totality ends. Most aren't going to be amateur astronomers but people there specifically to see totality. And a lot of us with scopes and interest in the partial phases might be with family who wants to leave.

 

That's a long way of saying, beating the traffic may not be possible. Hopefully traffic isn't bad but, as everyone is saying, have food, water and a full tank of gas before totality.

2017 Eastern Idaho, the interstate was pretty backed up even after the entire eclipse finished.

Do not underestimate Post eclipse traffic heading back into the major cities.


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#61 jrussell

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 01:37 PM

Anyone have any success today getting a day pass for any of the Texas parks on E-Day?  Availability seemed to disappear instantly.  By some quirk, we got one at Lost Maples with three of our party trying this morning at 8:00:01.  

I'd say luck was definitely on your side. I think Lost Maples is going to be an excellent location.

 

For those going to Gatesville, that is another excellent choice IMO. That was my original destination before I decided on camping instead.



#62 Phillip Creed

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 01:45 PM

^^ Just hit the road early and you should be fine.  All us TSE nerds will be the only ones on the road at 6am and the rest of the unaware masses will start driving around 9-10 am.  

That's my plan if it comes down to it.  I'd like to know I can get at least 200 miles under my belt before the more casual eclipse tourists hit the road.  Hopefully my starting locations (either NE Ohio or Jonesboro, Arkansas) will be close enough to clear skies to allow for a more leisurely drive to a suitable spot.

Not going to fight red in tooth and claw for a centerline spot.  Anyplace 50%+ umbral depth will work, and give me a better shot of driving back out of the path if I need to find a nearby hotel.  I was only able to go 60 miles from the centerline for TSE 2017 before the traffic got so bad I had to get a hotel room.  I was never so happy to be off the road.

Clear Skies,

Phil


Edited by Phillip Creed, 08 March 2024 - 01:56 PM.

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#63 Cajundaddy

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 01:45 PM

We have camping reservations at Garner SP and are hoping for clear skies.  If necessary we are prepared for a dawn assault to a better observing spot.


Edited by Cajundaddy, 08 March 2024 - 01:52 PM.

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#64 Anhydrite

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 02:06 PM

I have decided that sleeping the night prior is pointless......so Im going to drive at night.......and take a nap in my rental car at my site.


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#65 kfiscus

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 02:56 PM

I have decided that sleeping the night prior is pointless......so Im going to drive at night.......and take a nap in my rental car at my site.

This is a good idea.  Use the time to get there instead of tossing and turning.


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#66 bunyon

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 02:58 PM

Come now. Tossing and turning the night before is part of the tradition!
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#67 Bigred77

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 06:20 PM

We have chosen 4 possible viewing sites based on probability of clear skies and will get to our chosen site very early AM.  After the eclipse we break out the grills and have a proper Texas BBQ to bask in the glory,  hang out, and swap stores while everyone else is heading for the exits.

 

What's the plan for the bbq?

Being a central TX native I'm pretty passionate about my bbq FarmerRon.gif

 

I'm doing briskets, sausage and some pork butts  the day before (Saturday night really) for lunch on Sunday at our churches eclipse viewing event.

Planning on leftover pulled pork and chopped brisket sandwiches for the day of the actual eclipse itself.


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#68 Cajundaddy

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 07:12 PM

What's the plan for the bbq?

Being a central TX native I'm pretty passionate about my bbq FarmerRon.gif

 

I'm doing briskets, sausage and some pork butts  the day before (Saturday night really) for lunch on Sunday at our churches eclipse viewing event.

Planning on leftover pulled pork and chopped brisket sandwiches for the day of the actual eclipse itself.

Hehe, my wife has a proprietary tri-tip preparation and I will slow cook this to perfection.  We have another campsite smoking ribs so even if the eclipse viewing is a bust we won't go hungry.    


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#69 JMW

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 09:26 PM

We are taking an 18 night travel trailer trip from Reno to Marathon TX. We will visit family and go to our son and daughter-in-laws baby shower in Las Vegas. Two nights at south rim of Grand Canyon. Two state parks on the way to Marathon Texas. 5 nights at Marathon so we can spend 3 days in Big Bend NP. We have reserved parking and day passes for Stonehenge II in Ingram Texas. This is a town of less than 2000 people but totality is supposed to be 4 minutes 27 seconds. 

 

https://www.timeandd...44?iso=20240408

 

After the eclipse we travel for three more days before spending 3 nights at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah just east of Canyonlands NP. One more overnight on the way back home.

 

We have our dog and 3 people. It took me a while to find a day site that had reserved parking, plenty of treeless open space and permitted pets. We enjoyed the 2017 total eclipse while at the Oregon Star Party for 8 nights. The duration of totality will be about twice as long so we hope for no clouds. We plan on having a great trip clear skies or not. We plan on many nights of astronomy on the way there and back.

 

I lined up all the RV reservations months in advance. We didn't get the eclipse parking lined up until this week. I was relieved once I one I booked the parking for the eclipse. Many of the small towns had eclipse plans but only had first come first served parking. We wanted to know we had legal reserved parking for the day of the eclipse. 

 

This will be my first time camping in New Mexico and Texas. We have been to Arizona and Utah many times.

 

I am keeping the gear for eclipse day to a minimum. I will setup a 60mm double stacked Lunt Solar Ha scope on an AM3 mount and project the image onto a tablet to share with people walking by. I will have a 150-600mm zoom on my Fuji X-H2 with a NiSi UV/IR cut 16.6 stop ND filter tracking the sun and projecting the image on another tablet so people can see the sunspots and eclipse progress. I ordered an 82mm magnetic filter system. The base is male threaded and screws into the zoom The top ring is held magnetically to the base and has a female thread for the UV/IR cut ND filter. This will allow easy removal and replacement of the filter during totality. 

 

I need to do some practice sessions for the Ha solar scope and mount and tracking tripod with camera and zoom so I am not having problems on eclipse day.


Edited by JMW, 08 March 2024 - 09:46 PM.

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#70 havasman

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Posted 08 March 2024 - 10:04 PM

Watch Texas being entire smoke filled during the eclipse.  The winds are out of the North right now keeping the smoke down South, but once the winds change and starting blowing from the South, watch out!

We got much more smoke in the sky from western forest fires the last few years than from the Panhandle grass fires over the last couple of weeks. Grass smokes less than forests.

Yahoos defending the border with all that implies huh? Then you'd love the shootouts we have in the middle of the street at high noon every day. They generally start with "Thar ain't 'nough room in this here town fer th' both o' us Rattlesnake McGee." It gets excessively violent from there. Kind of like a Sam Peckinpah movie. You know, because that's what we do here.

 

Any other stereotypes I can reinforce for you?

lol.gif lol.gif lol.gif  Peckinpah or Yosemite Sam, either works for the stereotype reinforcement. 

I was heading to Utopia, but there's apparently a HUGE music festival there so am heading to Leakey instead. If all else fails it will either be Mason or as a last resort in Broken Bow Oklahoma. In my experience, stay far away from big metro areas and pick a place well off the beaten path away from interstates.

One thing I'm hearing is that NOAA expects an early and active severe weather season. This obviously doesn't bode well for clouds, but a lot of times behind the dryline there can be sustained winds in excess of 50mph. This happened more times than I can count when I used to live in the region. 

Getting from Mason to Broken Bow that day sounds to me like a nightmare from the 5th or 8th circle of Dante's hel.

 

For all y'all coming to Texas, I hope you have a great time and carry wonderful memories back home. I hope you return often and enjoy our great state, especially the wide, dark skies of the west. I do hope you do not ever move here.

 

Spring wx in Texas is always a crapshoot. I hope we all get lucky. As I have said here b4, totality's coming to me. I'm going to be on the driveway with 1 Ha scope and 1 set of binoculars rigged for WL. Selected neighbors and my sister & BL are invited. If it's stormy or cloudy I'll be on the driveway or in the back yard enjoying the midday darkness and all it may bring. But that guy that cuts you off on the road and shoots you the finger to max the burn, well I promise that will not be me. I have declined numerous invitations to centerline parties at fine homes with folks I prefer over the best people in the world because it's going to be crazy out there.

 

Y'all have fun and be safe.


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#71 Bill Weir

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Posted 09 March 2024 - 12:31 AM

For the heavy, hours long backups, especially where there's a long way between exits, there's something I haven't seen mentioned that might not be a bad idea: https://www.amazon.c...T1zcF9hdGY&th=1

Adult diapers are better. Less spill hazard after doing the duty. Just put them in a kitchen catcher bag as the have deodorant fragrance.

 

Little story. Way back when the kids were little and making time was of the essence my wife had to go while we were in a no place to stop on a highway in a provincial park. Empty yogurt container made do. Then there was the question of what do I do with this highly spillable thing. My answer was open the window and bucket it out. A shower of liquid filled the air visible in my rear view mirror. At the same moment I saw a large number of motorcycles racing up behind us. For about a minute a parade of Hells Angels roared past us. I have no idea if they caught some or not. There is now a supply of adult diapers in the emergency box in the back of my Forester. Two actually got used when we were driving north through Montana coming home from Wyoming from the 2017 Eclipse. It’s amazing how there seem to be no roadside rest areas in Wyoming. My wife was so happy I had the foresight to add them to my kit.

 

Bill


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#72 Bigred77

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Posted 09 March 2024 - 08:37 AM

We are taking an 18 night travel trailer trip from Reno to Marathon TX. We will visit family and go to our son and daughter-in-laws baby shower in Las Vegas. Two nights at south rim of Grand Canyon. Two state parks on the way to Marathon Texas. 5 nights at Marathon so we can spend 3 days in Big Bend NP. We have reserved parking and day passes for Stonehenge II in Ingram Texas. This is a town of less than 2000 people but totality is supposed to be 4 minutes 27 seconds.

https://www.timeandd...44?iso=20240408

After the eclipse we travel for three more days before spending 3 nights at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah just east of Canyonlands NP. One more overnight on the way back home.

We have our dog and 3 people. It took me a while to find a day site that had reserved parking, plenty of treeless open space and permitted pets. We enjoyed the 2017 total eclipse while at the Oregon Star Party for 8 nights. The duration of totality will be about twice as long so we hope for no clouds. We plan on having a great trip clear skies or not. We plan on many nights of astronomy on the way there and back.

I lined up all the RV reservations months in advance. We didn't get the eclipse parking lined up until this week. I was relieved once I one I booked the parking for the eclipse. Many of the small towns had eclipse plans but only had first come first served parking. We wanted to know we had legal reserved parking for the day of the eclipse.

This will be my first time camping in New Mexico and Texas. We have been to Arizona and Utah many times.

I am keeping the gear for eclipse day to a minimum. I will setup a 60mm double stacked Lunt Solar Ha scope on an AM3 mount and project the image onto a tablet to share with people walking by. I will have a 150-600mm zoom on my Fuji X-H2 with a NiSi UV/IR cut 16.6 stop ND filter tracking the sun and projecting the image on another tablet so people can see the sunspots and eclipse progress. I ordered an 82mm magnetic filter system. The base is male threaded and screws into the zoom The top ring is held magnetically to the base and has a female thread for the UV/IR cut ND filter. This will allow easy removal and replacement of the filter during totality.

I need to do some practice sessions for the Ha solar scope and mount and tracking tripod with camera and zoom so I am not having problems on eclipse day.


Marathon is one of my favorite places. Such a cool little place

#73 JohnFlannery  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 10 March 2024 - 02:34 PM

Apologies if this is a repost.

I found these handy pdf maps of Texas and localities on the state’s Department of Transportation site. I have a Michelin state map (paper) anyway but the pdfs will be useful too while doing a bit of touring after the eclipse. https://www.txdot.go...ravel-maps.html

John
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#74 mdredmond

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Posted 10 March 2024 - 03:09 PM

Staying at Lost Maples State Park. Daughter needs to be in school next day so bought refundable ticket from San Antonio to Dallas for her that evening.

If it’s anything like Casper, Wyoming was in 2017, it’ll take 8 hours to drive 100 miles back to San Antonio.

Food, water, extra gas and a porta-potty in the SUV.

Edited by mdredmond, 10 March 2024 - 03:11 PM.

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#75 jrussell

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Posted 11 March 2024 - 10:04 AM

Hehe, my wife has a proprietary tri-tip preparation and I will slow cook this to perfection.  We have another campsite smoking ribs so even if the eclipse viewing is a bust we won't go hungry.    

Soooo, where is this campsite? I might show up hungry wink.gif


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