Blacking Out

By Patti Parish-Kaminski, Publisher

Lisa Ann and I on the historic frontline of the US solar eclipse – with a soundtrack of Tejano music blaring in the background. ¡Viva el eclipse solar – all four minutes of it!

The term “blackout” has meant many things for me throughout the years.  Blackout curtains comes to mind instantly, as I recently purchased some new curtains for our bedroom, and Mr. Kaminski insisted that they be “blackout” curtains.  How he knew such a thing existed is beyond me, but I suspect HGTV has something to do with it.

Of course, being the seasoned Bingo player that I am, I also associate the term with peri-mutuel betting.  Everybody knows that the last game of the night is the “blackout” round with the biggest and best prize.  And then there’s the quintessential use of the term that is the action associated with a body’s level of excessive alcohol intake.  Fortunately, that’s been my experience only once in my 50+ years.  I do not recommend it.

At my age, “blackout” means memory loss – struggling for the word, idea, person’s name, movie title – and you just can’t quite put your finger on it.  You know it’s there, but you can’t dial it up.  It happens – a lot.

So, in my defense when Lisa Ann began using the term “blackout” for our next adventure, it conjured up several ideas for me – most of them not very positive.  An explanation was in order.

Her explanation involved other worrisome words:  Totality, Traffic-Laden Road Trip, Back Road By-Ways and Mexico.  Hence my concern.

“We are going to the first place in the United States that the eclipse is hitting for the total blackout experience,” Lisa Ann declared.  In all fairness, we like being first.

Relieved that she said, “United States,” I queried.  “And just where are we going for this grand adventure?”

“Eagle Pass, of course!”  She was excited.  I was scared.

For those of you unfamiliar with Texas geography, Eagle Pass, Texas is one footstep away from Mexico.  Within the city limits, I saw the Mexican flag flying high, the international bridge, the Texas National Guard, hummers, AK-47s, Border Patrol, a detention center – you name it, I saw it.  I could have thrown a ball and hit Mexico, and I am not an athlete.

“Well, that’s the perfect place for the rapture, don’t you think?” I promptly looked up every Biblical reference to eclipses and the rapture, just to make sure.  Now I’m ready to go home, at any given moment, but I do like to be prepared and well-organized.  If I’m meeting Jesus, I at least want my hair did.

With our handy Rand McNally in tow – in case the internet went down – water, toilet paper, snacks, cash and a pistol, off we went, South toward the border.  I figured we could deal with any situation in a prepared and productive manner with our accoutrements. I mentioned I dig preparedness.

We made it to Eagle Pass unscathed and untrafficked, and yep, we saw the blackout eclipse.  We have the T-shirt to prove it.  It’s black, of course.  The wind stopped, the birds quieted, and it got as black as night – and we saw it all with our solar eclipse sunglasses made in China.  I did express strong reservations about a conspiracy to damage our eyesight by using these dastardly devices.

Apparently, April 8, 2024 was the last solar eclipse in the lower 48 United States until 2045, and we dang near had to drive to Mexico to see it. I don’t know where the optimum viewing spot will be for the next one in 21 years, but I feel certain Lisa Ann is on it.  We’ll be in our 70’s by then.  Aubree Ann will just have to take us.  See y’all next week – on the porch!

Patti Parish-Kaminski

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