Bedford Family Takes Memorable Journey to Vermont to Watch Eclipse

By Irene Cullen Gravina     

My husband, Sam, began getting excited about this total eclipse right after the last one in North Carolina that we saw in 2017. After a seven-hour journey in our van with Lindsay and Hilary, our daughters, and our dog, Oliver, made longer by a stop at a piercing parlor in Manchester, trying to reach our hotel in Plattsburgh, NY, had put him in a tizzy. 

We left one day early to get in a last day of skiing at Whiteface Mountain, a 1980 Winter Olympics site near Lake Placid, NY. 

Many people. Including the Gravina family, went to Vermont to see the total solar eclipse on Monday. Courtesy photo

As we cruised down Rte. 314 in northern Vermont at about 10:40 p.m., the road took an unexpected curve to the left, and a sign pointed to the loading dock of Gordon’s Landing. 

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“I think we have to take a ferry,” I told Sam.

“What?” he exclaimed. 

GPS had given us no clue. (The text directions did, but when do we ever read those?) We had no choice. Luck shone on us, however, as it were, and the man in the reflector vest waved us right onto the boat after extracting a fee. It turns out the Cumberland Head – Grand Isle ferries run every 20 minutes, and we slid silently over dark water, sparkly from nearby lights under a pitch-black sky and packed in among other vehicles. In 10 minutes, signs directed us to please continue on Rte. 314, and we were on our way. 

Skiing was patchy, mushy, but nice with sun among end-of-season diehards giving their skis a turn one more time. But our main goal was eclipse viewing, and driving back to the hotel, we monitored the encroaching clouds warily. We explored contingency plans for the following day. 

Heading north became the talk at breakfast, in the elevator, and around the hot tub at the hotel, filled as it was with eclipse-watchers from all over. The license plates in the packed parking lot showed the range: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia. 

We packed our telescope, a white board to reflect the image of the eclipse, some snacks, and of course the glasses our friends all warned us to wear when we told them where we were going!

Driving until the very last minute to avoid the encroaching clouds and still have time to set up the telescope, Sam chose a parking lot full of people and cars in Newport, VT, to pull over. A promising-looking restaurant stood nearby, but had apparently decided its bathrooms were now off-limits. No problem, we had stopped in a town nearby where the nice proprietors of a Stewart’s let people use the facilities. Overwhelmed by the line of people waiting, an employee exclaimed, “I hope we don’t have another eclipse for a long time!”

As totality approached, the light dimmed, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and people donned their coats. We peered into our telescope, glasses appropriately in place as well as its lens covered, and the moon slowly covered the source of heat and light for our planet. Sam’s image on the white board, reflected from the telescope, depicted it perfectly. 

And, as anticipated, totality happened! As one can imagine, night fell. Yet, there was a black orb in the sky, surrounded by light, and with unique phenomenon if one looked through the telescope. Small, red and pink and sometimes white flaming formations, called prominences, jutted out from the orb’s edge. A triangular one in particular, which many people documented on their phones, stood out on the lower left curve. A nighttime temperature swirled through, the neon sign on the restaurant across the street lit up, as did the one streetlight at the corner. 

In exactly three minutes and 26 seconds, the moon began its ascent to the other side of the sun, rays of light shone, and the crowd cheered. The sky over the wide vista distant mountains, which had turned to a burnt orange as the sun disappeared, a temporary sunset, began to lighten again, like daybreak. Our white board captured the first rays of the “new” sun, and we asked a nearby couple to snap a picture. We had met them earlier in the journey and serendipitously bumped into them again in this parking lot. 

Day dawned again, and we headed home, mission accomplished. 

Irene Cullen Gravina is a Bedford resident.

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April 12, 2024 12:35 pm

Glad you made it to Vermont to see the full eclipse. This is the max we saw at Lahey Hospital (2:31) – but still impressive.

Carole Charnow
April 14, 2024 9:45 pm
Reply to  Clive


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