Anna and the grandcubs left early Friday morning and got here to the south of Bloomington by 11:00 or so. We had some lunch and packed up the rest of the gear. I drove from here, to give Anna some rest. We had almost five hours of travel still ahead of us. We drove down I-69 past Evansville and rounded Kentucky Dam on I-24. Then we turned south down the west side of Kentucky Lake. Along the way, we stopped for supper at a Waffle House. Good, solid chow -- with grits! (Waffle House is one of the best things about traveling through the mid-South.)
Ah, Waffle House, how have I missed thee
We were among the very first to pull into Camp Roy C. Manchester. We checked in at the office. We learned that there were about 375 campers registered for the weekend, and some Council staff and their families would come out for the eclipse itself on Monday. So, we were expecting about 400 people in all. The camp could easily accommodate those numbers.
We set up our tents in Campsite 4. James bunked with Anna and Daniel put up in my tent. Soon, we were joined by a troop from Ferdinand, Indiana, and a mom and her 9-year-old Webelos son from Louisville. All of us got along well, and the boys of all ages played together. It was a beautiful setting, though hot and humid.
Our home in the woods
Camp Roy C. Manchester
Claiming his spot
Daniel had to run all over the campsite first
On Saturday morning, there were Cub Scout learning sessions and Boy Scout merit badges offered. Daniel and I attended a session on the eclipse given by the Louisville Astronomical Society, which included viewing the sun through telescopes equipped with various special filters. Daniel earned his BSA Eclipse patch.
Astronomers welcome gawkers
Louisville Astronomical Society gave safe views of the Sun
In the afternoon, the Cub Scouts made Raingutter Regatta boats. Our two got almost as much paint on themselves as on their boats. Then, they made model rockets which can actually be fired. We saw somebody wearing a t-shirt that said, IT AIN'T ROCKET SCIENCE -- oh, yeah, it is.
Just add explosives
Sunday was a relaxed day. We started it by attending chapel service by the lake. Anna baked a loaf of soda bread for her entry in the Dutch Oven cook-off. After lunch, we went swimming. Anna and I buddied with the two boys in the non-swimmers area. It felt good to just soak in the water.
Come on, baby, light my fire
Anna starts the charcoal
Fresh from the oven
Soda Bread cooling
The lake felt good on a sweaty afternoon
Anna and the other mom, Maureen, took their boys to Shooting Sports to fire B-B guns, bows, and slingshots. As supper time approached, Anna prepared the rest of her entry for the cookoff. She had put a barbecue rub on two pork tenderloins the night before, and now seared them and put them to roast in a Dutch oven. Then she made St. Davy's trifecta -- a dish of bacon, leeks, and asparagus -- while the pork was roasting. When all was ready, she composed her plate and took it off to the judges.
Searing the pork
Anna knows her way around the griddle
Photobombing the asparagus
James watches Mommy make St. Davy's Trifecta
Done to perfection
Pork tenderloins resting
Anna's composed entree plate, ready for judging
In the evening, there was a campfire. There were two flag retirement ceremonies, very well done. Daniel got to participate. Anna won second place in the adult division for her pork tenderloin.
Monday, we waited with great anticipation for the big happening. We got our glasses to view the sun. More telescopes with sun filters were available as the moon began its transit of the sun.
Viewing the eclipse
"A dragon is eating the sun!"
James gets to see it happen with the help of a big telescope
As the sun disappeared, the light grew dim, and shadows were shaky-weird. The temperature dropped. Stars -- planets, really -- came out. When the totality finally occurred, it was safe to take pictures with ordinary cameras. I took several, some with flash and some without.
Using flash, I think
Darkness at mid-day
Note the planet appearing on the horizon
As soon as the totality was past, the herd began to migrate. People started leaving. I imagine it was the same throughout western Kentucky and middle Tennessee. Knowing that, we had laid our plans to stay another night. We had a relaxing afternoon and evening. I believe only nine people were left in camp last night.
We broke down our tents and moved into a nearby cabin, the better to make a fast exist this morning. Daniel was up early this morning -- as he usually is. I got up soon after. Anna and James got up less willingly. We had a light breakfast, packed up the car, and were driving out shortly after 8:00 a.m. local time -- 9:00 a.m. back home. We reached Bloomington about 2:30. After unloading and re-packing and a cup of tea, Anna drove on with the boys to Richmond.
It was a great experience to share with some of my favorite people. The chance to be there with my two grandsons as they experience the challenges and excitements of boyhood is a great privilege. They are both growing fast in body and mind and spirit. Anna did home-school with Daniel yesterday. I worked with both of them to learn a table grace they can use when an adult isn't available to lead prayer.
Daniel and James are confident and mature and woods-smart for their age. If anything, Daniel is a little too confident at times; we worry about his wandering off, following his own nose. James is very excited that he gets to be a Lion Cub next year; meanwhile, Anna remarked that by the time he actually gets to register as a Scout, he'll have four years of staff patches to wear on his uniform. Of course, Anna and I (and Brian and Deanne) are very experienced campers, so the little were-cubs are getting the best of practical outdoor educations. We stay dry and comfortable in all kinds of conditions, and we eat as well outdoors as indoors.
But it's still good to be home again.