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Traveling To Rochester To Watch The Solar Eclipse Of 2024

Traveling into the traffic inferno of a solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse
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ASTORIA, NYC- “You’re from Buffalo?” some guy in the gym asked with excitement one day a few months ago. I’m not sure if it was my Bills hat or my Bills shirt that gave me away.

“Yes, why? Are you from there too?”

“No,” he replied, “but I’m going there soon.”

“For what?” I asked with a laugh. “Do you go to school there?”

That was the only reason why I could imagine someone who wasn’t from Western New York going there.

He just shook his head as his eyes opened wide and began sparkling. “Don’t you know? There’s going to be a solar eclipse!”

“Oh,” I responded, clearly not understanding the significance.

He then told me that he travels all over the world to watch them.

“Really? Why?”

“Because they are really beautiful.”

Cool, I thought to myself. At that time I thought this dude was some kind of an oddball eclipse tourist.

It didn’t really sink in as to how big this would be until multiple people from my acquaintance tree declared that they were also going. Apparently, this is a thing.

Hundreds of thousands of people will be descending upon the place where I’m from to observe the first total solar eclipse to happen there in 400 or so years. The media is calling for traffic jams on the scale of “20 or 30 Super Bowls.” Or 71 sold out football games ending at once.

During the last total eclipse to hit the US in 2017, over five million people traveled to see it, and this year there’s expected to be even more.

This is the first total solar eclipse to cross New York in 99 years and for the past year and a half the state has been planning for the influx of visitors traveling there to watch it. The hotels are packed, the cheapest room you can get in Rochester is currently $573. Local colleges are charging people $80 a car just to park there to watch the eclipse.

I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about traveling for the eclipse when I first heard about it but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to be there. Places only get a total eclipse once very four centuries. I suppose I should appreciate that one is happening where I come from within my lifetime … and I should probably be there, at the very least, on principle.

So we will be joining this hoard. It works out that Petra needs to go back to her boarding school in Ohio this weekend, so we figured that we’d also stop by my parent’s house in Rochester on the way back. Our entire route of travel both to Ohio and then to Rochester is going to be within the span of traffic heading to places to watch the eclipse on the day that it’s going to be the most heavy.

This could perhaps be the dumbest travel plan ever.

But as I thought about all the people going there, kind of marveling in the temporary relevance of the region that I grew up in, I suddenly burst out laughing. All of these motherfuckers are going to go all the way to Western New York to watch a once in a generation event and there’s a really good chance it’s going to be cloudy. I do not have any advanced knowledge of meteorology or have even checked a weather report but I grew up in this region and I know that it’s cloudy just about every day this time of year.

For the first time in 400 years my hometown is going to be important enough to travel to and there’s a good chance it’s going to be a total bust.

The humor in this is perhaps something that only people from Western New York can appreciate.


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Filed under: Natural Phenomenon, New York

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3716 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

4 comments… add one

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  • Rob April 7, 2024, 10:44 am

    In 2017 we were in an RV, we parked it at a friends work in Vancouver WA for the eclipse. My biggest take away was how fast it cooled down when the sun was covered and that the temp change was really noticeable.
    Good luck on the traffic and the weather!

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    • VBJ April 7, 2024, 6:10 pm

      Thank you! I’m just really surprised that people still care so much about natural phenomenon like this. It’s kind of cool.

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      • Rob April 7, 2024, 6:16 pm

        It’s a rare enough phenomenon that affects everyone who can see it, not something to miss if it’s not a real hardship I’d think…
        When you think about it the sun is always there…till it’s not…

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        • VBJ April 8, 2024, 2:10 pm

          Yes, it is something that people have attached significance to pretty much forever so we came to find out what it’s all about and appreciate it. However, my joke in this post is looking like it’s coming to fruition. Less than an hour to go and the entire sun is covered in clouds 🤷‍♂️

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