The totality. Totally in. Totally stoked.

“Totality” refers to a solar eclipse when “the dark silhouette of the moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible.”

The Great American Solar Eclipse is Monday. If you’re in the 70-mile-wide path across Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina or South Carolina, you can experience totality and die totally happy.

If things go according to our shotgun plan, we should be in Rexburg, Idaho, when the printed version of this column lands on your lawn, roof or sidewalk. I’d never thought of traveling to Rexburg. I like Idaho, I’ve been to Idaho, people seem happy living in Idaho, but Rexburg, a city with probably much to recommend it, may not have topped the list ahead of McCall, Boise or Coeur d’Alene.

I’m blaming this on Sue. “Blaming” or, in this case, crediting, because the girl with whom I will celebrate a 38th wedding anniversary in September, loves an adventure, a road trip and plunging into the unknown.

“I think we ought to go see the solar eclipse,” Sue said a couple weeks ago. “I’ve talked to you about it but you haven’t seemed excited.”

I haven’t? I haven’t because I’m a husband wall. Husband walls are solid, impenetrable and not given to sway with every whimsical notion. Sometimes it is necessary to chip away at the wall, beat on the wall or hurl something at the wall for the wall to rise from its wall-like slumber.

I hadn’t given the solar eclipse any thought. Don’t these happen all the time? Solar eclipse/lunar eclipse, which one was it? I can never keep them straight. Was it the one you need funny glasses for unless you want to go as blind as Poco, our sightless chocolate Lab?

“Totality” began to chip away at the husband wall. The word was hard to get out of my head. It seemed like a religion or the name of a really good pinot noir.

I started reading about it. During totality, the sky darkens, temperatures may fall, and birds and animals often go quiet.

People can freak out too, even wall people. People who’ve been there sometimes cry, fall to their knees and do everything but dance a tune under the midnight moon.

Observers talk about feeling communion with the other people with whom they have witnessed totality.

Communion. It sounded like Woodstock with less mud. Less mud and a better ice chest.

“I think we ought to go,” Sue said.

Go we are. The first leg is Saturday and Salt Lake City where we will stay with Sue’s Aunt Alice, descendent of the push-the-handcart-across-the-prairie people, and then a four-hour drive to Rexburg on Sunday.

Sunday we plan to camp with 200 other people at the Riverside Campground in Rexburg. When I called and made the reservation — $80 for Sunday night — it was odd because I couldn’t find any photos of the campground.

This being Idaho, I imagined a creek, tall shady trees and the Sawtooth Mountains.

When I called to reserve a campsite, I asked Marianne, who worked for the city recreation department in Rexburg, why there were no photos on the website.

“The campground is a soccer field,” she said. “We’ve converted it to 200 campsites for the eclipse.”

No photos but a picture and maybe not a pretty picture. The Riverside Campground in Rexburg had soccer team fundraiser written all over it. I did the math in my head and quit when I lost track at about $50,000. No magazine drive or chocolate bar sale for that team.

“Are there bathrooms?” I asked.

“Yes,” Marianne said, her voice faltering.

“Faltering,” meant there were bathrooms but not enough. “Faltering” meant lines. “Faltering,” meant Woodstock West with better grass.

Thirty-six hours of driving for less than three minutes of possible totality, assuming there weren’t clouds. A risk, but worth it. Walls have come down in less time.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at or (661) 395-7279.

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