Total Eclipse Chasing in Arkansas

Along Comes Mary just had its twelfth anniversary. Since my tagline has always been that “you never know where I’ll show up,” I think I did well to celebrate the occasion. After much debate for nine months followed by a rather swift decision, we traveled to Arkansas to witness the total eclipse!

Not only was I eager to check off another state (I’d not been to Arkansas), but we made it a week-long spring break for Mabel. It was her first airplane ride and the longest time away from home. The best part was staying and traveling with our family in Tennessee. Mabel had not met them all yet and we were excited to see how she would react to living in a new home with new people for over a week. Plus, our dogs would be back at home, her toys, preschool, and what’s familiar….all a long way away.

Our gorgeous Airbnb in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (c) Mary Farah

Come Fly with Me

We flew out of LAX to Nashville on Friday. I was prepared to hold my breath a lot. TSA, luggage, lines. All of the things that frustrate me as a traveler let alone if I were three. Mabel turned out to not be too bad. She was her jumpy and hyper self at the terminal but we survived. She was a real trooper and looked the part as she rolled her Paw Patrol backpack through the airport.

We didn’t get any naps out of her while in the air. Although it was tolerable, it’s still not a walk in the park to have a toddler on an airplane. She did get a kick out of the TV screen and we had old favorites going like Coraline and Wonka the entire three-plus hour trek. I packed our bags the best I could with snacks and Bluey coloring books. I will share that the large plastic container of mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s ain’t bad when I get desperate, too.

After an easy arrival, it took a while to get our rental car. Mainly because they were looking for the appropriate-sized car seat we had rented. It was certainly a no-frills seat but got the job done. Mike even commented on how light it is compared to our bulky one. Once we were on our way, of course, we began our journey at a Nashville Target followed by the old reliable Chipotle. It’s all about convenience when you first land, am I right?

From Tennessee to Arkansas and Back

We began in Shelbyville, between Nashville and Huntsville. This would be our home base for the trip. With the eclipse happening on Monday, we set out to Jonesboro, Arkansas, on Sunday. Jonesboro is about four hours from Shelbyville and just an hour out of Memphis so, naturally, it was an ideal pit stop both ways. We were able to explore MOSH, the Memphis Museum of Science and History, and were not disappointed. Mabel was loving the life-sized dinosaurs every which way she turned. Stay tuned for a more in-depth recap of our time there.

Our Airbnb in Jonesboro was the ultimate “we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.” For a family from Los Angeles who live in a townhouse complex, this was the great outdoors. Acres of land looking out to fields and a wide open blue sky. I love Lana Del Rey’s album, Chemtrails Over the Country Club. The countryside Americana view we had could be titled Chemtrails Over the Arkansas Fields. We were at the end of a long dirt road and just up from us was a farm with burros and goats. Across from that was a gorgeous home with a tranquil pond. You cannot deny that everything just seems slower and more laid-back in the south. I know California is all about its “vibes” but they just hit differently when I’m down there.

Monday morning was spent enjoying that slow life and anticipating the ever-approaching eclipse. It was the first total eclipse any of us would see. My original goal was to be among a crowd with Mike and pull a John Cusack in Say Anything. I was planning to blast Total Eclipse of the Heart from my phone instead of In Your Eyes on a boombox. That didn’t pan out but the total eclipse was incredible.

Open, wide fields like a Lana Del Rey album. (c) Mary Farah

The big dark moment. (c) Mike Farah

Total Eclipse of Arkansas

As it reached its totality, there was a swarm of birds flying amok. They were in a panic as it suddenly reached the end of the day. In the middle of the afternoon, we witnessed the moon completely cover the sun and darken the skies to nighttime for over two minutes. I didn’t expect to be in awe but I was. We all were. I don’t know if Mabel will remember but we have the adorable memory of her jumping and screaming with us.

After the excitement, I decided to take Mabel on a cruise. We drove some desolate country roads, saw livestock, checked out the old downtown in Jonesboro, got drive-thru treats at Shadrach’s, and ended the fun at….wait for it….Target.

I’m so glad it worked out for us to experience the last total eclipse in the USA for 20 years. Beyond Arkansas, we covered a lot of fun stops the entire week in Tennessee. Stay tuned for stories on the Memphis Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, Nashville Zoo, and Bell Buckle. What’s that last one, you ask? Just the cutest small town I’ve ever seen. Trust me. xo

  1. Melanie

    April 16, 2024 at 11:35 am

    What an awesome trip! That Airbnb looks fantastic and I’m sure Mabel will have many fond memories of her first plane ride and vacation.

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