Cristie Dobson’s kids, Louis, Susan, and Henry, wearing special glasses during the solar eclipse in 2017 in Tennessee. Cristie Dobson

Cristie Dobson, a mom of three from Northern Virginia, is on a mission.

During Monday’s solar eclipse, she wants to stand in the path of totality with her three kids. So after closely monitoring the weather, she recently cancelled a long-planned flight to Texas in favor of a 10-hour road trip to Vermont.

Dobson is one of millions of people traveling for the eclipse. The path of totality, where the moon completely blocks the face of the sun, will stretch across parts of 13 U.S. states (including Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine) as well as portions of Mexico and Canada. This will be the last total solar eclipse in the contiguous United States until 2044, and towns in the path are bracing for tens of thousands of visitors. Hotels have been booked for months.

Mark Littmann, co-author of “Totality: The Great North American Eclipse of 2024,” told CNN that people who are mobile and flexible with their plans have the best chance of seeing the total eclipse.

“It’s going to take dedication at this point,” he said. “About 31 million people live in the path of totality. And millions and millions of tourists are going to be pushing into the path of totality — driving for an hour, two or three hours as well as flying in.”

Dobson is dedicated. Because she knows the payoff.

During the 2017 solar eclipse, her family stood in the path of totality in Tennessee.

“It was just awesome,” she said. “It was an incredible experience. It gets darker. It’s almost like a switch goes off. And, all of a sudden, the cicadas come out. It’s cool. It’s like nature takes over.”

So when she learned of this latest opportunity to experience totality, she knew she’d travel for it again and began researching destinations late last summer.

“I looked for where it’s historically less cloudy in April and I landed in Texas,” said Dobson, an analyst for the Department of Justice and amateur photographer interested in astrophotography.

But the predicted clouds in Texas on Monday caused her to pivot.

“In the 10-day forecast, it started looking not good in that area,” she said. “So I quickly switched gears and researched where it was going to be better. Vermont was the clear winner.”

Between 50,000 and 100,000 eclipse watchers are expected in northern Vermont on Monday. This doesn’t scare Dobson, an avid traveler.

“I am used to navigating crazy travel situations,” she said with a laugh.

“We were planning for 80-degree weather, going to The Alamo,” Dobson said. “Now it’s going to be 40 degrees on the top of a mountain. And I’m like, ‘OK, it’s all right, we’ll just pack differently.”

The original plan was to fly into Houston, stay in San Marcos, and drive to Boerne to experience totality with friends. She said she cancelled the hotel and car rental and received a credit for her flights.

“I feel bad because we had plans to meet friends and everything and they understood,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry, this isn’t going to happen again for a long time!’”

With an unexpected lengthy road trip on the horizon, she took her SUV for an oil change on Wednesday. She’ll drive all day Saturday to the Green Mountains, where the family will stay in a Marriott in Waterbury and return home on Tuesday. Dobson said she couldn’t believe she was able to find a hotel room on such short notice.

“I think I just lucked out. I searched the path of totality in that area,” she said. “This one popped up. When I booked it, it was sold out afterwards. So I don’t know if somebody canceled and I just happened to get their room. Because, honestly, everything was booked.”

Dobson and her kids will go on the Gondola SkyRide in Stowe. – Stowe Mountain Resort

She also booked tickets for a viewing event at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, a scenic mountain resort on 2,600 acres. The event begins early, isn’t far from her hotel, and has parking, which all work in her favor, she said.

“From a photographer’s standpoint, this is going to be much more picturesque,” said Dobson, who hung a framed photo she took of the 2017 eclipse in her foyer.

She is packing eclipse viewing glasses for eye safety, as well as special filters for her family’s mobile phones and the lens of her Nikon Z6 II.

A bonus: Dobson has never been to Vermont.

“It’s actually the only state in the East I haven’t been to,” she said.

On Sunday, the family will take the Gondola SkyRide to the top of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, where they’ll eat at Cliff House while enjoying panoramic views of the mountains.

“I gave myself ample time,” she said. “Our reservations are at 2:30 in the afternoon. I’m anticipating that yes, there’s going to be a ton of people everywhere.”

Talk of Vermont has filled her house this week, Dobson said, and she’s shown her kids photos of Stowe, the gondola, and Vermont’s famous covered bridges ahead of their epic road trip.

“They’re excited for it,” she said.

Dobson’s kids, now 9, 14, and 15, were much younger seven years ago during their first time in totality.

“I think the fact that I have my kids with me for this and can experience it with them is really important,” Dobson said. “And the fact that the next time this comes along in the U.S. they’re going to be grown and out of the house.”

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