So far this year we’ve had earthquakes, the sky turning black, and soon, locusts. I’m not sure where that leaves us on the Biblical Plagues bingo card, but after I realized that people can’t even drive on a simple bend on the freeway, I’m pretty sure the end is near.

I recently went down to Ohio to see the 2024 solar eclipse. When I found out some time ago that it would just be a few hours away from us, my first thought was: road trip. After hearing about the traffic from the 2017 solar eclipse from friends, I started scouting out remote destinations, far from people, along the centerline of the shadow’s path. I decided for a small town in Ohio called Dunkirk because they had a community park, and because they had a combination Mexican/Pizza restaurant. But mostly because of the restaurant.

I left my house a bit after 9 am for the 3:10 pm eclipse at Dunkirk. The traffic on US23 south of Ann Arbor was heavy but moving—until it came up on any gentle bend in the road. Then the traffic would stop. Each time I expected construction or an accident, but nothing. Just a gentle bend.

When the traffic is heavy and someone taps on their brakes, the person behind them will also tap their brakes, but slow down more than the car in front of them. This continues until a car in the back of the pack is actually moving backwards in the time-space continuum. I’ve mentioned this in a previous article, but now I’m convinced humans cannot be trusted with sharp objects.

It took me an extra 45 minutes to get to Dunkirk because of the traffic. To which, I apologize to the state of Ohio for being part of the problem. I also apologize to the truck drivers just trying to do their job while we’re slowing them down. They have places to be.

How did I know that these cars were eclipse viewers from Michigan? Because there were more than one person in the cars, and often included kids on a school day. The rule in Michigan (as well as other U.S. states) is one person per vehicle. We recently just implemented a high-occupancy vehicle lane in one of our freeways, but I wonder if its use will be as rare as a total eclipse.

Chekhov’s Eclipse

Park closed; Mr. Cheezy’s food good; eclipse dark/amazing/awesome/yada yada.

Obligatory picture and GIF.

Great Ball of Fire

With the solar filter on the lens, it was too dark for the camera to focus on the totality (8x)

The Drive Home

Once I picked Dunkirk for my eclipse destination, I knew I was going to take back roads all the way back home. As I drove, I could see the freeway back north marked in red and orange on my nav screen to signify heavy traffic. If I wanted to drive in stop-and-go traffic on the freeway, I would have gone to work.

Most of the back roads through Ohio farms were devoid of traffic. I was tempted to go fast, but I have an irrational fear of police in Ohio, because every time I go there, there are police all over the place (as they were today). Plus, in my mind, they are now going after Michigan drivers because Michigan has beaten Ohio State in football the last three years. I have no proof of this, but I’m not taking chances.

Some of the roads in Ohio have bends or curves for no obvious reasons. I assume Ohioans haven’t figured out how to make a straight line yet. But their lack of basic skills adds to my driving enjoyment, and for that I thank them.

My route home added an extra 50 miles and 50 minutes to my drive, but I didn’t care, because this was the road trip I was hoping for. It was heavenly—what a wonderful way to use up a tank of gas. Thanks, Ohio.

And so while there may not be hope for mankind (*cough* AI *cough*), at least we can enjoy the ride in the meanwhile. As long as we stay far away from each other.

Ridin’ along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Cruisin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go
—Chuck Berry

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