WHAT I DID FOR THE 2024 TOTAL ECLIPSE – by Little Donny Kingsbury – Age 12

Apr 29, 2024

What’s the big deal? When it’s all over, all that’s going to happen is that Auggie’s going to want breakfast again.” – Liana Kingsbury, April 8th 2024, going 110mph on I-95 North of Passadumkeag, Maine


On April 7th, I checked in with my parole officer and made my intentions plain.


Then on the morning of April 8th, I loaded my dysfunctional tribe into my dog-besmirched truck in hopes of reaching our “once-in-a-lifetime” totality. We left Boothbay Harbor around 7am with the intention of lazily meandering upta our friend’s place outside of Houlton by 2pm, where we envisioned relaxing and then watching the total eclipse. We’d stop frequently; running, fetching and swimming the dogs so they wouldn’t have the energy to be total embarrassments at our host’s. Perhaps we’d find a smashing little restaurant to have lunch. The main point was to have quality time as a dysfunctional tribe and not get too wound up about anything.

By the end of the day, I had driven over 13 hours and was weeping like a little girl, wishing the Aztec God of Darkness had indeed eaten the Sacred Sun Disc and doomed all of humanity to a slow, stygian heat death.



Liana downloaded an app named “Waze” that showed traffic conditions based solely on the collective app-users’ throbbing cranial blood pressure and how hoarse they were from screaming at other motorists. In that way, we avoided the lure of going straight up Route 27 to I-95 in Augusta. Apparently, that was worse than trying to cross the Cape Cod Bridge on a Friday afternoon in August. The traffic in Augusta wasn’t even stop and go. It was stop. One point for Waze. Thusly, we drove up Route 1 to Belfast and then 1A through Frankfort. We stopped to fuel up at a Dysarts (Pronounced: Di – sahhhhts) travel plaza before getting on I-95.


True chaos reigned o’er that travel plaza. As Americans, we rarely get to experience chaotic throngs of displaced, desperate people unless there’s a wildfire, some kind of chemical spill, or a Harry Styles concert. On this day, the travel plaza looked like a combination of the last chopper out of Saigon and the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

Canadians are usually meticulously thoughtful. But on this day, the Canadian group ahead of us left their car after fueling to go inside the plaza and get “warm dogs” that had been cooked entirely under a heat lamp. There were lines four cars deep waiting for fuel. You would have thought the Canadians would move their car away from the pump so the next car could get gas, but no. Even the Massholes were removing their cars from the pump after fueling. The Massholes were even accommodating whilst waiting for the disease-encrusted restrooms. I personally witnessed a group allow a small girl go ahead of them because, “SHE REALLY NEEDED TO PEE! NOW! DADDY! NOW! I HAVE TO PEE NOW!!”


When you combined the unexpectedly rude Canadians with the unexpected politeness of the Massholes, you knew something insidious was going on.

And why the hell were Canadians driving north to see the eclipse?

Maine was in crisis.



When we merged onto I-95, there were thousands of drivers going roughly the speed of sound. They surged 6-inches off our bumper with stern faces and blasted their horn(s) arbitrarily like Latin American drivers. I didn’t take it personally because I was born in Boston and lived in the Caribbean. I understood the cultures at work. The traffic reminded me of a giant sink clog that had broken free in one of those commercials, or the moment when you realize the laxative might have been too powerful.

The traffic thinned out between the Millinocket exit and that scenic rest stop that overlooks Mt. Kahtahdin. After that it almost looked like normal traffic on I-95 that far north. Houlton was farther north than you’d ever expect to see a Masshole, but it was the eclipse and they were venturing way out of their comfort zone. To see an act of nature of all things.


Maine was definitely in crisis.

It was also pretty amusing to see locals in their mammoth pickup trucks zoom easily up behind Massholes in their Audi and Mercedes SUVS. It must have been a shock for those Massholes going 97mph in the passing lane only to see a gargantuan pickup truck 6-inches off its bumper, flicking its lights impatiently, and wanting to pass them.


I had seen two partial eclipses before this one and they both sucked.

On both occasions, I couldn’t even afford the free eclipse glasses to look at it safely. I had to use my beaten up welders mask. The University of Maine canceled classes and said seeing the eclipse was mandatory. That was way better than my English History class as taught by a living fossil in a sweltering jail cell-like cinder block classroom in Dunn Hall.

My friend Rob and I started drinking for the eclipse around 8pm the previous night. At 8am we got up and started drinking the isopropyl alcohol from our roommate’s medicine cabinet. Ha ha! Just kidding! Isopropyl alcohol would have blinded us and we would have missed the eclipse and our English History credit. Instead, we drank all our roommate’s mouthwash. Then we took turns looking at the sun through my welder’s mask.


It got closer to the maximum eclipse time and we went out to the campus mall with all the other pinheads and waited for the end of the world. We no doubt scared the crap out of the nerds “observing” the partial eclipse through small holes in cardboard boxes with our ghoulish welder’s mask and 6ft bong we had stuffed with flavored tobacco and dried fruit.

The bong was brand new, so the Kampus Kops couldn’t run us in for illegal substances. They patted us down repeatedly. They hectored us without knowing what “hectoring” meant. And smoking tobacco on the Mall was legal way back then. There was nothing they could do. Especially with so many witnesses around.


When the eclipse hit its apex we all shouted, “USA! USA! USA!” and got positively ripped out of our skulls on whippets some guy in a revolutionary-war tri-corner hat was handing out. Then Rob and I went back to the condemned refrigerator box we lived in. I stayed up drinking until my internal organs shut down and Rob passed out in a rhododendron.

That’s when it struck me why it was so important to get a college education.



And so we arrived at our friend’s camp on a lake just outside Houlton. Fudgie set right out trying to destroy our friend’s priceless family heirlooms, and Auggie decided to kill himself by running out onto the semi-frozen lake. “As long as my dogs are having fun,” is my motto when we visit friends with our dogs.

We did the tour with our dogs and I started to get sleepy from all the driving and the nitrates/nitrites in the 1.5lbs of beef jerky, and the expired egg nog I drank at the travel plaza. I was also sick and tired of being cooped up with my dysfunctional tribe for this long.

Our gracious host Dave made us a thick French Press coffee with recently-frozen lake water that 12yr old Auggie almost drown in. It was the perfect thing at the perfect time. I didn’t even see one of Auggie’s hairs in it.


Then Dave told us we were driving 10 minutes to a better place to watch the eclipse. I was contemplating giving myself a broken leg to stay at the lake for the eclipse. This place was perfect. Why would we go anywhere else? In the end, I couldn’t muster up the courage to break my own leg and we drove about 10 minutes away.

Dave was right. It was a much better place to watch the eclipse.

We were on a large hill with acres and acres of corn snow-covered fields. You could see all the way upta Mars Hill and beyond. There was also an ill-monitored barbecue and trash cans, so the dogs could choke to death on shish kabob skewers fresh off the grill, in the trash, plucked from the table, or stolen directly from passive young children who would then cry hysterically through the entire eclipse.


We were greeted heartily and encouraged to eat as much as we wanted. We were also told to go wherever we thought the eclipse would suit us best. I was enormously relieved. Half my worry about leaving the lake cabin was that I would be brought to some place and forced to group-chant Native American eclipse dirges during totality. The other half of my worry was that I’d end up in a group of loud, drunk, over-exuberant, pinheads who would loudly chant “USA! USA! USA!” shoot off fireworks, and burn tires in the road.

There was no such nonsense here. This was “The County.” It was up to us. All I wanted to do was observe my first totality with people who understood what totality was and wanted the same thing.

I… nay we, were so lucky that day.



Liana and I forgot chairs or anything else that would keep our ample asses dry from the 4-inch deep corn snow and wet field grass that reigned everywhere at “The New Place.” I had trash bags in the bed of my truck that I’d forgotten to drop off at the dump from over 2 weeks ago. That hardly seemed the way to thank our most gracious hosts: rooting through trash bags filled with maggoty, moldy food at their Eclipse Party.


I went off on my own and walked up the hill a bit only to find an old concrete cistern sticking out of the snow. My ass fit perfectly on it. And despite me being a gigantic load, my ass remained dry. I was overjoyed. There wasn’t much I liked about myself, but I liked myself a lot better when my ass was dry. I motioned for Liana, still at the barbecue, to come join me. I found the perfect place for us to watch the spectacle.

Fudgie saw my hand motions to Liana and ran full-bore across the boundless snow field from the children he was shaking down for snacks. Corn snow kicked up like rooster tails from his rear feet. He ran up to me and did “Zoomies” circles around me through the snow and mud. I wondered idly if the mud was going to be the 80th or the 81st coating of dog mud spread over the inside of my truck since I had it detailed four days ago.

Old Auggie saw Fudgie running up to me and started running too. Probably because he thought there was food involved. Auggie is 12yrs old and has two bum ACLs. He’s also pretty much blind and deaf. Poor Aug face-planted in a patch of deep corn snow. He was stuck. He was fucked. And he was terrified. He barked and howled forlornly until he got hoarse.

Then Liana, Dave, and Mary headed up the hill towards me.

Liana picked Auggie out of his corn snow trap. And Auggie, instantly invigorated, licked Liana furtively before taking off up the hill with renewed determination to be with me and Fudgie and any food we had been keeping from him.

I love that dog.



I remember lots of people fretting that their pets would go blind or insane from looking at the eclipse. So they locked their pets safely away in the basement for the whole event. I’m not sure why a dog or cat would look up at the sun, ever. Especially if it would make them blind. Come to think of it, this fairy tale was usually told to me by the same people who swore their dog could calculate differential equations and/or was the incarnation King Charles II of Spain in a previous life. Haha! Just kidding!! No one would want to be King Charles II in a previous life! Not even Kanye West.

Besides going blind, I also heard that animals behave very oddly during eclipses. We saw none of it with our beasts. Fudgie wanted to fetch and steal scraps and run full bore through the length of the field over and over through the entire eclipse (not in that order). Auggie just laid down next to my feet and lunged out at Fudgie when he got too close. Liana had the line of the day: “What’s the big deal? When it’s all over, all that’s going to happen is that Auggie’s going to want breakfast again.”

I looked to the east. It looked like an enormous storm cloud heading directly towards us — dark, swooping, and in charge. It was totality bearing down on us.

The wind kicked up to a solid 30mph across the snow. I was freezing in my T-shirt despite enjoying 70 degrees only a moment before. There was a dull pumpkin-orange light encompassing the entire 360-degrees of the horizon. The cell tower on the hill and the town lights in the valleys came on. Stars came out. Venus was brilliant.

And you could look at the sun.

It was one of the most truly amazing things I’ve ever experienced in my short, whiskey-soaked life. I’d seen a couple partial eclipses before, but this was very different and much more spectacular.

Totality was so fleeting and primal. It never let you get a grip on it. It was unnerving and emotional. It was like driving a car, shooting a gun, and having sex for the first time all at once. The power and strangeness and emotion of it was overwhelming. I couldn’t help but gape at it. At one point I felt like I was falling into it – falling through the funnel cloud of a colossal, cosmic tornado.


But it also gave me a feeling of unremitting serenity. This is what the earth and the moon and the sun did. They spun around each other like this for billions of years. They spun around and around each other with me or without me. They did it whether I wanted them to or not. My puny, fat self didn’t matter. It was deep time physics. I was just lucky enough to live in an age where people much smarter than I could predict this eclipse and engineer my truck and roads so I could travel here and be overwhelmed by it.

That seemed incredibly profound to me at the time.

The tiniest bit of light shot out from the 7 o’clock position the instant after totality. It felt like a searchlight from a million miles away finally hit me. In another fraction of a second, the sun was too bright to look at with the naked eye. I looked down at the snow and saw rippling, boiling waves upon it. There must be some physics explanation for it, but I’m into my third whiskey and can’t be bothered to look it up.

You’ll just have to research these things for yourself and let me know in the comments section what you came up with.



The sun getting brighter and brighter after totality was pretty boring considering all you had to do was play the darkening of the sun backward on your phone. We went back down to the barbecue and sporadically put on our eclipse glasses to make sure the Aztec God of Darkness wasn’t eating the Sun Disc for eternity and further human sacrifice wasn’t necessary.

Fudgie and Auggie carried on in their bad behavior at the picnic table. They had such a great day taking advantage of nice people. It was around 5pm when I was able to corral them and my garrulous wife into my dog-besmirched truck and make for our Midcoast Maine homelands.

Of course I-95 was blocked up worse than Max when he stole and ate an entire wheel of Brie at a party. The app Waze was overwhelmed by angry submissions and was spitting out nonsense. Thus, we experienced something I-95 north of Stinkin’ Lincoln hadn’t experienced in a long time — stop & go traffic.

We got off I-95 at Medway with a lot of Massholes and got on Route 2. Some Massholes were so important that they had to pass us and three other cars on blind curves and through the Main Streets of small towns. Sometimes they passed us going through towns like Mattawamkeag when cars were coming the other way. It was pretty nerve-wracking inasmuch as it felt like being on a rural I-495 in Billerica during rush hour.

We got to Route 1, and everyone in the truck was asleep. Except for me. I suffered from that typical male disease that wouldn’t let my wife drive unless both my arms were amputated or I had blood coming out of my eyeballs. It’s a literal, long, slow road to recovery.

Anyway, as I turned onto Route 27 around midnight, I heard the first chords of “Eclipse” from Pink Floyd come on the radio. I thought it was all we were going to hear, all day long. But we hadn’t heard any of the album at all that entire day. I started belting out the lyrics to the song into the darkness and woke everyone up.

I am completely tone deaf, so by the end of the song I was just hoarsely belting out the lyrics, and tears were streaming down my face. Auggie licked my elbow repeatedly, probably in commiseration with his being stuck in the snow earlier and howling until he was hoarse.

Marz snuffled my ear. Liana was sleepily looking at me like she was finally witnessing the last reserves of my sanity boil away into a vacuum, and was trying to find the best opportunity to bolt.

My dysfunctional tribe and I were back home.

Anything was possible.

— Don (Not a Dog)

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