Linder Point near Iowa City

Tuesday, August 29. Owls were frantically calling to each other last night in the trees right above our trailer. After some sleepless hours, got a slow start this morning. But we left Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, MN in perfect, cool sunny weather: You know it’s beautiful when this is the view from the dump station! 20170829_104936_resized

Long drive through Iowa farm country — our only break was one stop to get gas. But we were refreshed when we found our leafy campground only 3 miles north of the Interstate. Linder Point is one of five Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds in the Coralville Lake Dam complex which also includes several hiking trails, day use areas (picnic, beach, playground), a Visitor Center AND the Devonian Fossil Gorge!!! We knew nothing about this when we reserved a spot here — only that we have had good experiences with COE campgrounds, and that we get 50% discount with our Interagency Senior Pass. This campsite, on a perfectly level concrete pad with FULL hookups, costs us $13 ❤️❤️❤️20170829_150948_resized

We are very near Iowa City and there is a Planet Fitness only 20 minutes away. But after driving all day, we didn’t feel like jumping back into the truck and driving some more. Then, after taking a short walk and finding out about the local attractions, we did jump back in the truck to explore the Coralville Dam complex; first, the Devonian Fossil Gorge.20170829_201335_resized If nothing else, this is distinguished by the fact that there actually were brochures in the brochure box — possibly a first on this trip! But there is a lot more to distinguish it. The entire area is one surprise after another, and one of the most wonderful is the Devonian Gorge, a natural, exposed bed of fossilized rock and seabed floor from 375 million years ago. This rock bed is filled with small plant and animal fossils from those ancient seabeds, primarily crinoids, brachiopods, and colonial corals. The Gorge is the natural, downstream spillway just beyond the concrete spillway under the Dam. Two floods in 1993 and 2008 smashed and scoured out the many layers of the sedimentary rock and limestone reefs, exposing the Devonian bedrock and the fossils embedded in it. You can roam around this area freely, trying to locate the numerical markers corresponding to the key in the brochure (most are missing) and discovering many  interesting formations and fossils.

We were both a bit woozy from the long drive and lack of food, so we ended the hike and drove around the area, including beautiful residential properties among the rolling hills and valleys… so strikingly green after so much of the West. We saw the marina and other campgrounds, and came upon a group of deer near the Visitors Center.


Albert Lea, MN

Cloudy, cool morning on Lake Albert Lea. Good time to do some chores…IMG_1349

Waiting for an oil change:IMG_1351

Getting a haircut. Tristan said they haven’t had much of a summer in this part of Minnesota. It’s been cool, cloudy, rainy. Like today.

IMG_1352Going to Home Depot:20170828_112431_resized

Checking out the torque wrenches at the auto parts store:


Taking a stroll through the damp, deciduous woods around our campground:IMG_3220

After dinner the skies cleared and we took a walk along the Lake in Big Island Campground at sunset.

Long drive! 5 hours, 350 miles

We left our campsite at Big Bend Dam and drove through green rolling hills and bluffs above the Missouri River, a fond farewell to beautiful South Dakota.IMG_1346

Amazing cloudscapes and late afternoon prairie thunderstorms all along the interstate. 20170827_152949_resized

Our Sirius satellite radio had news about Hurricane Harvey but only reporting from Rockport and Houston, so we were glad to hear from our Port Aransas friends on Facebook that they are safe and their house is still standing.

Our midday break was at a Walmart in Sioux Falls, SD where we stocked up on groceries before continuing to Myre-Big Island State Park in Albert Lea, MN. We arrived just after 5 p.m., filled our water tank with potable water, found our shady campsite on the shore of Albert Lea Lake, and settled in for the night!20170827_172422_resized

In south central Minnesota, although not yet east of the Mississippi, we feel we have reached a watershed of sorts. Homeward bound…

Power tourism

Saturday, 8/26. At Left Tailrace COE Campground.
There must have been an airlock because our water pump wouldn’t shut off last night and also the stream of water sputtered and dribbled away. The (unreliable) indicator said our fresh water was empty even though we had just filled it with 10 gallons. So this morning Scott put another 8 gallons in and the pump seems to be running fine now. The indicator still says empty, though. 🤔
And speaking of water, the water coming out of the potable water spigots in the campground is brownish and smells strongly of chlorine. The campground host Ron Schwartz said they drink it, although they have an inline filter that removes particulate matter but does not change the color much. But he told us that the Lynn’s Dakotamart store in Fort Thompson 3 miles away has a reverse osmosis water machine that you can use to refill your empty water jugs so we did that.
Back at camp we had lunch (sautéed mixed veggies with a can of Amy’s chili and leftover rice), and then realized that we must be in Central Time Zone because it was almost 1:30 and time for our tour of the Big Bend Dam.
So we walked across the campground to the Powerhouse gate and joined a few other people waiting for the tour. Ranger Bob Karlen soon showed up and let us in the huge security gates (installed after 9/11) after checking everyone’s ID. I didn’t have any ID with me so he asked if I was a terrorist and I said no, I’m here with Scott; he let me in anyway.20170826_143940_resized
We spent close to an hour inside, and it was an interesting, informative and impressive experience. The Dam was started in 1959 and completed in 1964 and the entire facility has an aura of being back in time. All of the turbines and the many compressors and ranks and controls were original equipment and, although not spanking new, all exceptionally well designed and maintained. We went through multiple levels, from the top where you can see the covered tops of the spinning electrical rotors, down to the levels where the water is introduced into the housing, driving the vertical turbines. There are very detailed charts and photos showing the history of construction, and details on the electrical grid it supports. We were able to see spinning shafts on those turbines off line and being spun with compressed air which dries out the turbine and helps regulate output. There are paddle fish and giant catfish in the lake below the Dam. The entire system is within the boundaries of the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation, but the lake upstream and the dam itself is all Federal. A system of roads near the spillway Dam was rerouted to avoid a Crow burial ground, and their entire town had been moved from the original Missouri River bank to its present location a few miles North. One very unexpected sight was the appearance of clusters of calcium based stalactites in some of the tunnels; they were up to a few inches long and as a result of minor seepage through some of the concrete. Apparently the calcium seals up the small cracks and stops the flow, eventually. We also heard about the great snow melt of 2011, when they struggled to release enough water through both the power Dam and the spillway, and the entire campground where we are staying was under water. According to Wikipedia, “For the first time in the dam’s history, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the dam’s spillways on the morning of June 3, 2011. In June 2011, in response to the 2011 Missouri River Floods, the dam was releasing 150,000 cubic feet per second (4,200 m3/s), which greatly exceeded its previous record release of 74,000 cu ft/s (2,100 m3/s) set in 1997.”

Wikipedia also led us to more information about the blood-soaked history of this area, commemorated in a “monument at Big Bend Dam dedicated in 2002 … The Spirit of the Circle Monument honors the more than 1,300 people who died of malnutrition and exposure over a three-year period in the 1860s at the reservation following the forcible removal of the Santee Dakota to this site, which resulted from their defeat in the Dakota War of 1862.”


We walked back to our site… getting a bit warm! …and we made some iced coffee and checked on whatever info we could find on Hurricane Harvey’s effect on Port Aransas. Doesn’t look good…20170826_114646_resized

After dinner we drove up the road to pay our respects to the Spirit of the Circle Monument. It is not well maintained, with tattered flags and trash in the unmowed grass, but that perhaps added to the gravity of the site and the poignancy of the experience.

Eastward ho!

Friday, August 25.

Said goodbye to the Badlands this morning. This was the view from our campsite:IMG_1324

Driving past the Visitor Center on our way out to I-90E:IMG_1326

We are camping this weekend at Left Tailrace — a Corps of Engineer campground under Big Bend Dam on the Missouri River about 20 miles north of the Interstate near the Crow Creek Hunkpati Oyate Reservation. We took a walk down to the water after dinner. Looks like we may get some weather:


But nothing compared to Hurricane Harvey bearing down on Port Aransas tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of the storm, especially our friends the Tinnin’s and the Amos’s — hoping for the best. IMG_1336

A day in the Badlands

Thursday, 8/24
Got out before 8:30, while still cool and breezy, sunny and clear, and with fewer people in the parking areas and trailheads. Went straight to the Door trail to continue past the end of the boardwalk. This is off-trail, although there are stake markers indicating where to go. Great fun scrambling among the rocky ledges and canyons to a sweeping viewpoint of the Badlands.Scan_Pic0516
Next, we entered the 27 mile Badlands loop drive. First stop: Saddle Pass trail. This is a short but very steep and strenuous hike. The trail guide says “This short trail climbs up the Badlands Wall to a view over the White River Valley. The trail ends where it connects with the Castle and Medicine Root Loop Trails.” Perhaps we’ll do that 4 mile loop tomorrow morning…
Then we stopped at the Fossil Exhibit Trail, just in time for a Fossil talk by Ranger Jane Poss. She is a young college student in her second year at Columbia majoring in anthropology. She is from nearby Phillips, SD and this is her second summer working for the Park Service. She gave an excellent presentation on the geology of the area, identifying the several different rock layers found in the park, and the different fossils from different geologic eras typically found in each. She said that the vast majority of fossils found in the park are found by visitors, who are encouraged to leave them in situ and to fill out a fossil report form or otherwise report the location of the find to a ranger.
So the next stop for us was the White River Valley Overlook where the first thing we saw was something that looked like an old shoe wedged in a crevice in a wash about 20 feet below the top of the Overlook. Looking at it through the binoculars, it was obviously not a shoe, but was a rock formation that was a very different color (black), and texture (smooth, shiny) than the surrounding rock (light gray, gravelly). A fossil?? We took a picture and decided to stop back at the Visitor Center later to show it to a ranger.
Then we stopped at the Big Foot Pass Overlook picnic area and had a snack. What is now a picnic area is actually the site of the trail used by Lakota Chief Spotted Elk (AKA Big Foot) and 350 Lakota to evade the U.S. military in December 1890. A few days later they were intercepted and 200 were killed in what became known as the Wounded Knee Massacre.

There are many more overlooks on the loop drive but we only stopped at a few more (Panorama, Ancient Hunters — where there is evidence that herds of Bison were stampeded over a cliff and butchered on the spot thousands of years ago, and Yellow Mound Overlook, where you can clearly see the yellow layer indicative of weathered fossilized soil).

Then we drove out of the park to Wall, SD and stopped at the National Grasslands Visitor Center. Here they have some interesting exhibits about the remaining 5% of the Grasslands which once included the entire Great Plains from Canada to Mexico. One of the displays shows stuffed specimens of prairie dogs and their predators including black footed ferrets, weasels and badgers. Aha! These specimens suggest that although the animal we saw yesterday in Wind Cave National Park had the face of a black footed ferret, it was much bigger — more nearly the size of a badger. The weasel is much smaller than the animal we saw, so clearly it wasn’t a weasel. So was it a small badger or a large ferret? Scott thinks it was a badger. I think it was a large ferret. And according to the Park Service, the ferret is “mostly nocturnal” — not exclusively so — so the fact that we saw it during the day doesn’t rule out the possibility that it was a ferret. These NPS pictures, for example, were obviously taken during the day:IMG_1231 IMG_1232

And this is the badger — darker, larger and chunkier than the animal we saw:IMG_1230

I’m sticking with the black footed ferret… a large, insomniac black footed ferret!

From the Grasslands Visitor Center, we went up the street to the world famous Wall Drug. In 1961 my parents took us on a trip to Yellowstone and starting just west of Chicago we started to see signs for Wall Drug. We stopped there and it was basically a big souvenir stand. Today, the signs are still ubiquitous but Wall Drug has become a giant, kitschy mall with dozens of shops and fast food restaurants, 6 foot jackrabbit and giant T-Rex model. The free ice water and 5 cent cups of coffee are still offered.

Back into the Park on the loop road and back to the Visitor Center where we showed our fossil picture to the expert paleontologist who said it might be a fossil and we should fill out a fossil report form, which we did, and duly received our Fossil Finder patches! IMG_1234

Another busy day! Dinner back at the trailer. We discovered that we can access the campground wifi from the picnic table outside our trailer, so we can start adding some photos to the blog.

Hot Springs to the Badlands

Wednesday 8/23

We decided. We are going straight across the Midwest to the east coast. We will not travel into Canada along the north shore of Lake Superior. We will miss Toronto and Niagara Falls. We figure we would need at least another month for that. So here is our revised itinerary:
8/25-26 Left Tailrace Corps of Engineers campground north of Reliance, SD
8/27-28 Myre – Big Island State Park, Albert Lea, MN
8/29 Linder Point Corps of Engineers campground near Iowa City, IA
8/30 Last Resort campground (!!!), Hanna, Indiana
8/31-9/2 Van Buren State Park, Van Buren, OH (south of Bowling Green)
9/3-9/4 Tionesta Recreation Area, Corps of Engineers, Tionesta, PA
9/5-9/9 Pickerel Point Campground in Promised Land State Park, PA
This will take us into the Poconos by mid-week after Labor Day, to visit our dear friends Paula and Robert.

We did all this Wednesday morning, with the help of the Allstays app, because we knew our next drive would be short — 2 1/2 hours — so we decided on a leisurely morning with a focus on our new itinerary, the major part of which required calculating the routes, how long we can or want to drive and most of all, where to spend the night. Generally, the biggest challenges occur over Holiday weekends, when Americans take all of their kids and dogs and toys and head to the nearest State park or recreational area. They love those sitting on lakes, especially.

There is an inverse rule at work here. The most convenient locations are commercial. Most are at least near something worthwhile to experience. They have lots of amenities, they provide easy access, usually easy on/off an interstate, they are expensive and the quality of the experience is hard to predict, even with Web access to descriptions and reviews. On the other end of the spectrum, sites such as those run by the Army Corps of Engineers are likely to be relatively remote, usually spacious and sometimes idyllic in their location, inexpensive (and for us, half price with our Senior Interagency Pass), and with fewer amenities… sometimes none… so, in those cases you have plan ahead for water, especially, and you have to calculate how long your 12 volt battery can last. With frugality and no generator or solar charging, we can stretch this to 3 nights.

We thus figured out a good combination of factors to get us to the Poconos and then Massachusetts mid-September, and, once the bulk of that planning was done, we broke camp and headed for Badlands National Park.

We arrived at our commercial campsite, just outside the park, in mid afternoon. 20170823_161705_resizedWe went through our parking and unhitching routine in about 15 minutes, and waited out the midday sun and planned out our later activities. As the sun was getting low in the horizon, we stopped at the park Visitor Center just 5 minutes before closing, and then took some short hikes just off the road: The Door trail, the Window trail, and the Cliff Shelf Nature Trail.

It is very hard to describe the overall impact, but suffice it to say that the weather was ideal, the light enhanced the views in all directions, the trails are well designed and with great variety, and the scenery is ever changing, beautiful and haunting. We were able to plan out for some longer hikes tomorrow morning, and our schedule worked out just right to catch a wonderful ranger presentation at 8:30 p.m. in the park campground. Before the show, we were able to catch a glimpse of Jupiter and its 4 major moons, through one of the scopes they had set up for the later astronomical program.

There was an informative introduction, the most surprising of which was the announcement that one could walk anywhere off-trail in the park, although scaling the crumbling peaks is not encouraged, due to likelihood of death. Smokey the Bear was there and both adults and kids were encouraged to give the hairy guy a hug and take photos. Many did. Us? You will never know…

The major talk was on one of our latest fascinations, the prairie dog. 20170822_133951_resizedThis was by Ranger Kathleen Hansen from the U. S. Forest Service National Grasslands Visitor Center in Wall, SD. Two of the many important things to know: they are a true keystone species–look it up!–and they have been drastically reduced in numbers, due to the recent introduction of fleas carrying — yes, the Plague. She did mention that the black footed ferret is a prairie dog predator, so afterwards H asked her if it was likely that we saw a ferret in broad daylight yesterday. She said probably not — it might have been a weasel. Scott was sure it was a badger. To be continued…

Then there was a break, and everyone who wanted to stay for the astronomical presentation was treated to a view of Saturn’s rings and one of Saturn’s moons through the telescope. There was a breathtaking view of the Milky Way spread across the dark desert sky, as a ranger used a powerful green laser pointer to identify various constellations and stars. One interesting fact we hadn’t known: the heart of the constellation Scorpio is the reddish star, Antares. Because of its color, it was often confused with Mars, the red planet. To distinguish Antares from Mars, the ancient Greeks called the star “Not Ares,” or “Anti-Ares” (Ares being the Greek name for Mars, the god of war) — I.e. “Antares.”

The Mystery of the Black-Footed Ferret

Tuesday, August 22
Woke up to crisp, fresh air and blue skies. The campsites here are spacious and above the lake… not that we intend to swim in it! We decided to try out the local yoga class about 20 minutes into town, easy parking, nice walk to an historic building (aren’t they all!), a funky small studio, pay by donation, an hour long gentle hatha flow. We were 2/3 of the class, our co student was 80 yrs. or so Melody, who lives year round in Hot Springs and “walks everywhere.” A very pleasant class… instructor was about our age… a very loving lady who works with those who have serious medical problems. Next year the class will be located in the new hot springs club they are building not too far away… water will be warmer and adults only!

We then drove to Wind Cave National Park. Scan_Pic0525Decided to not take a crowded underground tour and did some Nature hikes and scenic drives instead. A combination of paved and gravel roads, gentle rolling hills and valleys, studded with pines and broken by fields of light yellow and buff colored grasses, with many clusters of wildflowers. 20170822_121022_resizedDrove through prairie dog towns–delightful and fascinating… small clusters of Bison, we also saw a black footed ferret … this is apparently quite rare as they are typically nocturnal (they eat sleeping prairie dogs). Why was it up and about in broad daylight?

The drive highlighted the geology of the area, which is ancient and captivating… lots of shiny micas and pink feldspars, black tourmaline, quartz, schist, granite and the ubiquitous sandstone from the Permian lake beds.20170822_115248_resized_1 Four miles into a dirt road there was a parking area where we could see the “spearfish formation,” red shale and siltstone exposed by erosion in a green valley.

One of the hikes, Rankin Ridge, was a moderately steep 1 mile loop to the highest part of the park. The views were resplendent… we could see the Black Hills in the distance, a hint of Montana smoke carried by the north westerly breeze. We got a real break as, just when we got to the top, Ranger D. Weber drove up from the access road and said we could join him to the top of the fire lookout, normally closed to hikers. It was about 50 metal steps up and of course even more of the countryside opened up, on all sides.

Weber is an Elk biologist and was up there with a radio antenna in the hopes of locating one of the collared females in the park. The park has half the number of elk as last year… they had to kill off that many to reduce density in the hopes of saving the rest from a neurological wasting disease (Chronic Wasting Disease — CWD) caused by a prion that was inadvertently introduced to the park by a private elk rancher to the northeast, who had imported infected animals from Colorado. They think the prion was originally the cause of Scrapie in sheep and goats and migrated to deer and elk. No cure, and no way to detect it early. Takes up to a year and a half to kill them. They do not have enough money to track enough elk and although he had a great attitude, the ranger was clearly sad, and still shaken from having to kill off so many of his beloved elk.

The driving and hiking road took us out of the park through the bordering elk fence, into Custer State Park, which has higher terrain, more exposed rock, and many narrow, twisting roads, lakes, and one-vehicle bridges and tunnels. Pronghorn and lots of Bison… they can support a herd of up to 1400 and they are famous for the Fall Bison roundup. We caught an IMAX movie about the park at the main visitor center, and we almost headed out of the park at that point but we were inspired to go through the Needles Highway drive, and despite the difficult driving, we were very glad we did. 20170822_163949_resizedAwesome rock formations, sheer spires and stacks of rocks seemingly balanced precariously. Great columns of granite and sandstone that are attractions for technical rock climbers. Narrow roads and viewpoints with awe inspiring vistas in every direction… really too much to take in! This area is just South of Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument, which we skipped, and we headed South towards Hot Springs.

Once out of this gorgeous park, we headed through the tourist town of Custer… he and his men had camped near here during their famous expeditions of the 1870’s (exact year 1874????). Nice drive to our home away from home, where we enjoyed one of Helen’s famous trailer dinners… S. collapsed early as we contemplated the next round of big decisions… where to get the next oil change… where to pick up S’s next round of medication and, the biggest of all… whether to head North into Canada West of Michigan, go directly East and try to ferry across Lake Michigan, or dip South before arcing back north to New England???

ECLIPSE!! in Alliance, Nebraska

Monday, 8/21
From all the media hype about millions of people descending on tiny towns in the path of totality and creating monster traffic jams, we were apprehensive that we would be inching along in a 90 mile parking lot southbound on I-385 between our campground in Hot Springs, South Dakota and Alliance, Nebraska, so we got out early and were on the road by 6:15 a.m.
There was some traffic but it was moving along with no delays. But because it was so early, there were huge fog banks settling over the land for miles and visibility was reduced to zero so Scott had to slow down to 40-45 mph in a 65-70 mph zone. Where the fog had lifted, we could see big patches of clouds covering the sky to the east. And to the west we could still see the haze of wildfires burning in Montana and points north and west. So we thought, what are the chances we will actually see this eclipse? Fog, clouds, smoke… what’s next? Tornadoes? Drones? Dragons? But the fog lifted, the clouds cleared, and by the time we crossed into Nebraska and entered Nebraska National Forest, we could see the lovely rolling wooded hills, rock formations, verdant valleys with little farmsteads — not our stereotyped expectations of Nebraska landscape! And by the time we got into Alliance, around 8 a.m., the sky was clear, a cool breeze was blowing, and we were optimistic.
We stopped to get gas, and people were lining up to snag parking spots at the gas station! Waiting in line at the cashier, Scott overheard people saying that the town was totally full and there was nowhere to park.
But we soldiered on and drove into town, passing the nearly empty K-mart parking lot on the way. The side streets were empty as well. Lesson: Don’t believe everything you hear, or overhear. Trust, but verify!

We pulled into the half-empty Safeway parking lot, bought a couple of items and used the bathrooms. Then, we walked to the downtown area to try to find some breakfast, which we did after waiting in line for about 1/2 hour, and scoring the last two breakfasts they made, only because the owner kindly took pity on us. I guess we looked hungry. Back at the Safeway, we saw a sign across the street pointing to Bower Park, and on our map app we saw that there was a little town park and baseball field about 2 blocks from there, so we left the truck in the parking lot and took off on foot to find the park.

The park is small, green, treed, with long soft grass, a swing set and playground equipment, several benches scattered around, with an empty bench just for us. Perhaps 20 or so people… families, a couple of telescopes, couples, children, retirees… all ages and descriptions. The weather cleared… in the 70’s, light breeze, some thin, quickly moving clouds, bright blue skies. Bucolic, embracing, perfect. We sat, watched, tested out the eclipse glasses, enjoyed this respite from what has seemed like constant moving over the past few weeks.

The eclipse itself: there are no words. Awesome? Magical? Thrilling? Can’t do it justice. From the moment the moon took a nibble out of a tiny corner of the sun we watched as the nibble became a bite and the bite became a sliver, and the sliver grew until the sun was fully covered and we saw the “diamond ring” and then, taking our eclipse glasses off, we saw the amazing spectacle of the brilliant white corona blazing around the inky blackness of the moon. The whole process took about an hour and 15 minutes with about 2:30 minutes of totality — one of the longest periods of totality in the country. WE ARE SO LUCKY!!!!!!! Despite all our anticipatory apprehensions, there was no bad traffic, no problems parking, finding food, finding the best, most perfect viewing spot.

We left after the sun started emerging again, drove out of town encountering a few bottlenecks at intersections where police were directing traffic, but nothing major. We heard that many people had driven up from Colorado, so most of the outbound traffic was heading back south and we were in the lighter stream of traffic heading north. We stopped at about the half way point at a pretty picnic area in Chadron State Park north of Chadron, NE and had our lunch of avocado on sourdough baguette, apple, figs, nuts. So pleasant!20170821_131608_resized_1
Back at camp, we rested for a couple of hours and then took off for the town of Hot Springs, about 10 miles away. We took advantage of the “Twilight Special” at the Evans Plunge — 50% off admission in the last two hours of the day — 6-8 p.m. This is a mineral-rich large indoor pool with some slides and areas for kids, and a small section for lap swimming. It’s not a hot spring — it’s 87 degrees so it feels cool-ish at first, but very refreshing! A separate area has hot tubs, sauna, steam room. All very pleasant!

Then we walked through the historic (albeit a little faded) downtown and found a yoga studio to which we will return for a class tomorrow before driving up to Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park.
What a day!!

Hot Springs, SD

Sunday, 8/20.

Long day of driving 285 miles in gusty cross winds. Scott had to keep both hands on the wheel all day, and had a stiff neck and shoulders by the time we pulled into Angostura State Recreation Area Cheyenne campground. The air seems a bit clearer this far to the east of the fires. Hope it’s like this tomorrow — eclipse day! Stay tuned!