Dave's Eclipse Stuff


March 29, 2006 - Turkey

August 1, 2008 - China

July 11, 1020 - Hao atoll, French Polynesia

Turkey, March 29, 2006

The story:

My wife and I were going to observe this eclipse (her 3rd total, my 10th) from the Casa Fortuna cruise ship in the Mediterranean, but three days before we were going to leave she became ill and couldn't fly. She still wanted me to go, however, because, well, she knows... she understands.

As it happened, several days earlier I had seen a notice about a 24-hour trip from Frankfurt to Konya (Turkey), so I inquired about it and made a reservation. Then I booked a round-trip to Frankfurt, and the schedule was going to look roughly like this:

  • Leave Los Angeles 6:00pm Monday, arrive Frankfurt, 2:00pm Tuesday.
  • Relax, sleep, shower at hotel for a few hours Leave for Turkey 11:00pm Tuesday
  • Return from Turkey 11:00pm Wednesday
  • Relax, sleep, shower at hotel overnight
  • Leave Frankfurt 2:00pm Thursday, arrive Los Angeles 3:30pm Thursday

Hectic, but doable.

But, alas, even this was not to be... here's what actually happened:

My flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt was cancelled, which I discovered to my horror when I arrived at the airport. After scrambling for another flight, I was booked on British Air from LA to London, then London to Frankfurt, arriving at 8:00pm.

So much for the first night in the hotel.

Then, the flight to London was late, so I was going to miss my connection to Frankfurt and would have to take the next flight, which would arrive there at 10:00pm. Fortunately, they compensated us for this delay by allowing access to their private lounge at Heathrow, WHICH HAD SHOWERS!! (That was a good thing for me and, therefore, for everyone else on the tour!)

At that point I had been up for 24 hours. I arrived at Frankfurt at 10:30pm, just in time to connect with the overnight tour to Turkey.

They were scheduled to arrive Konya at 4:30am, but there were aircraft problems and we didn't arrive there until 9:00am. We boarded buses and ended up on a rocky hill in the middle of nowhere, but almost dead-on the center line. We saw the eclipse through thin clouds. At totality it had been approximately 54 hours since I had last been in a bed. It's a good thing I can sleep on planes and buses and in waiting areas!

It was another 12 hours until I finally hit a bed in Frankfurt - slept six hours and then left for the airport to return home.


During 67 hours round trip from the Los Angeles airport...

  • Roughly 14,700 miles
  • 30 hours in a plane
  • 6 hours in a bed

I'd do it again in a heartbeat!


Video - 4:53 Eclipse followed by panorama of the site (WARNING: do not watch this video if you cannot stand to hear a grown man cry...) Click here
Photos (click on photos for larger images)

A flock of sheep passed by as we waited for first contact.  (How many people can claim to have seen a total eclipse AND a grazing eclipse from the same location??)


After being out of bed for 54 hours, my eyes WERE actually open!


We weren't actually AT the end of the world, but you could see it from there; it was just over that hill in the background...


China, August 1, 2008

The story:

As in 2006, time was critical because I wanted to attend the 2008 National Speakers Association convention which started on August 2 in New York City.

The same people that ran the 24 hour trip from Frankfurt to Turkey in 2006 were running a 36-hour program from Frankfurt to Siberia for this eclipse.  I figured out that I could go on that trip and still be in New York by 2:00pm in time for the convention opening, so I booked that trip and used frequent flyer miles for the trip from Los Angeles to Frankfurt and then from Frankfurt to New York to Los Angeles.

Then a few things happened. 

The first thing that happened was that I decided not to go to the convention after all - it was a money issue.  So, I changed my ticket to go from Frankfurt directly back to Los Angeles.

The next thing that happened was that the 36-hour trip to Siberia was cancelled!  The tour operator offered me a 48-hour trip from Shanghai instead so I scrambled to get a ticket to Shanghai using my miles.  The only thing I could get routed me from Los Angeles to Chicago, and then to Shanghai and then the same thing on the return; amounting to an extra 8 hours of travel each way!

Naturally, I did it anyway.  I spent a day in Shanghai seeing the sights, then joined the tour for the 48-hours to the Gobi Desert for the eclipse, then flew home.  It went like this:

Left Sunday at 11:55pm for Chicago, connecting to Shanghai

Arrived Shanghai Tuesday at 2:00pm

Left Shanghai Thursday at 4:00pm for Jiayuguan

Friday we toured Jiayuguan, saw the western end of the Great Wall and an ancient fort, then headed out for the desert for the 6:00pm eclipse.

Saturday we visited the Great Wall, toured a winery, and left for Shanghai about 7:00pm

Arrived back in Shanghai about 2:00am on Sunday.

Left for Chicago/Los Angeles at 4:30pm on Sunday.

Arrived Los Angeles at 10:15pm Sunday.


Video - 3:35 Panorama of observation site in the Gobi Desert, followed by 1:50 of totality (WARNING: do not watch this video if you cannot stand to hear a grown man cry...) Click here

China, August 1, 2008

Mystery aircraft that landed on Hao about 45 minutes before totality, shown here taxiing to the terminal.