Blog: Day 1 of Following the Total Solar Eclipse

Our editor road trips to Missouri in pursuit of clear skies
The sun during the total solar eclipse.

Amy Nelson

It’s finally here! After more than a year of planning to get both our college-aged kids home for the eclipse—and a week of worrying and watching weather patterns and predicted cloud cover—we headed out on our epic road trip Saturday afternoon.

As I wrote earlier, after seeing the total solar eclipse in Wyoming in 2017, I’m hooked. It was an amazing experience, something I now plan trips around to view. Last time, our daughter and French Rotary exchange student joined us, but our son had just started his sophomore year of high school at an international school in Botswana. He had some great adventures of his own, but kept hearing over the past nearly seven years that he could NOT miss this eclipse. He graduates from college next month, but we flew him home for the few days to join us. Our daughter and her boyfriend drove from Canada earlier in the week, so after our son landed at MSP at 9:15 a.m. Saturday morning, we were packed up and ready to hit the road by noon.

Ready for the total solar eclipse road trip

Amy Nelson

A lot has been written already about this eclipse—the science behind it, the path of totality, the expected traffic jams, the logistics of staying safe. In the car, we discussed many of these points. Our daughter is getting her master’s degree in astrophysics; her interest, in part, was sparked by the 2017 experience (yay, me!), and she knows more of the technical aspects of the phenomenon. I’m more about the awe it inspired last time. How I felt shivers during the approximately 2-minute totality, the darkening sky, the significant drop in the temperature, the increasing buzzing of the insects. Monday’s totality will double in length and be more intense, heightening my expectations. The Minnesotans quoted in this story help capture the “if you know, you know” feeling I’ve had the past few weeks describing seeing an eclipse to others.

Road sign in Missouri

Amy Nelson

The past week has been intense (at work, we finalized the 2024 Ultimate Travel Guide and hosted CannaFest) with changing weather predictions and speculation. On Easter, we told the kids it looked like we were going to head to Ohio instead of Missouri. On Wednesday, we were still thinking Ohio, but that we’d drive to mid-Illinois on Saturday and then decide from there. On Saturday, we returned to our original plan to camp at Alley Spring Campground in Eminence, MO (I mean, what a great town name!).

So Saturday afternoon, we headed south out of the Twin Cities, stopping at Culver’s in Owatonna for lunch at the request of the Canadian in our group, attempting to find an open Kum & Go along the route in Iowa, and waving at other caravans along the way we suspected were also en route to see the eclipse. As we passed into Missouri, one of us remarked that the cloud cover would be perfect for Monday’s event—if it stands.

Sunny skies in Missouri

Amy Nelson

We decided to stop in Kansas City for the night, pulling into a hotel parking lot about 7 p.m. Part of the road trip adventure is discovering new spots, right? So we checked into our hotel rooms and decided to find some famous KC barbecue for dinner. We lucked out with 3Halves Brewpub and BBQ in charming Liberty, MO. A participant in Minnesota-based Crafttapped, we chose it for the live music (John Prine and Lead Belly covers), brews, and family-style BBQ (smoky brisket and spicy ribs). After dinner, was walked the few blocks around town to see some of the highlights, including a Jesse James-related spot.

Barbecue platter at 3 Halves Brewpub

Amy Nelson

City Hall in Liberty, Missouri

Amy Nelson

Mural in Liberty, Missouri

Amy Nelson

Statue commemorating Susan B. Anthony (with additional tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg) in Liberty, Missouri

Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson

As editor of Minnesota Monthly, Amy works collaboratively with a team of writers, designers, photographers, and digital producers to create impactful, surprising, timely and insightful content that reflects the Spirit of Minnesota. An award-winning newspaper and magazine editor based in the Twin Cities, Amy has decades of experience guiding coverage of luxury living, arts and culture, style and travel topics across multiple platforms. She has interviewed personalities ranging from Prince to Roger Goodell and has stories to tell.