After packing, and hitching up the camper this morning, we headed into Rexburg and the area Chamber of Commerce. I try to stop at these places and ask about local awareness of the eclipse and plans being made. Rexburg is blessed to have a major university in town, Brigham Young University – Idaho. The town is looking to the University to provide information and activities. There is talk of making the football stadium available for people to set up and view the eclipse. Other venues are possible as well. The majority of motels in town are fully booked for the eclipse.
We then left Rexburg and headed east toward the Teton Valley. Along the way we made a few stops. We almost passed a historical marker for the Teton Dam. I remember a dam collapsing many years ago and wanted to check it out. I was in for a sobering experience. The dam site was 1.5 miles off the main road and we almost turned around when we saw a sign that said “Dead End.” But I got out and walked to a fence and saw the remnant of the dam. As I looked at it, another car came up and 4 people got out. It turned out to be two older people and two younger. The older ones said they lived through the collapse of the dam in 1976. It destroyed their home fifteen miles down river. They rebuilt and have lived in it since.
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At the overlook of the Teton Dam collapse with the couple who lived through it.
This hill is all that is left of a great dam that was oriented left to right. The left half gave way and failed spectacularly. The resulting flood covered land 20 miles away up to 9 feet. The nice slice on the right side of the hill pictured was made by the engineers to try to figure out why the dam failed.
Meeting living survivors of this tragedy was sobering, indeed. They were sweet people and spoke freely of the event. I think they said only 2 or 3 people died in this collapse. If it had happened at night, that would likely have been much higher.
While on the road, I received a phone call from a ranger at Craters of the Moon National Monument. I had called and left a message asking about their plans for the eclipse. Now only a tiny part of that park is inside the path and it does not reach the center line, but I thought there might still be some interest in having an eclipse event there. He said that they are working with the Idaho Falls Astronomy Club on setting up an eclipse viewing station at the visitor’s center. There are no other concrete plans at this time.
We headed east again and made it to Tetonia, where we stopped and talked to the owner of Teton Peaks Lodge & RV. He said that he had been fully booked for eclipse weekend until a group with 7 rooms recently cancelled. He is not concerned about filling those rooms, since he has been getting calls regularly. He has a pavilion for day use that has been reserved by a group of Dutchmen. He was happy to have the information I gave him about the circumstances of the eclipse at his location.
Next stop was Driggs and the Super 8 Motel. Again, all booked for the eclipse, this one by a group from Japan. The Best Western is also booked and both have waiting lists. The Driggs Chamber of Commerce was very interested in my book since they are putting an action team together and want education to play a big role. They bought a copy of my book and said they would stay in touch. Across the street was the Pines Hotel with just nine rooms. Again, already booked but this time by a local family renting it for a family reunion. What a clever idea: share this once in a lifetime event with your loved ones.
Our last stop for the day was the Teton Valley Motel in Victor, ID. The front desk person had not heard about the eclipse, but when I asked if she could check reservations for August 21, 2017, she found the motel mostly booked, to a wedding party! How cool is that: to be married under the totally eclipsed sun with 2 diamond rings bracketing totality.
Everyone I talk to gets excited about the eclipse. I am loving this.