All eyes were on the skies or glued to live streaming across North America on 21 August to see the Super Bowl of the Skies, the 2017 Eclipse. Bet you were one of the watchers, too. I decided to join the 1 million people traveling to South Carolina to experience the sun’s fully monty. Here's the story of my totality awesome experience in Greenville, SC.
Car loaded with everything possibly need for worse-case scenarios, from energy bars and toilet paper to sunscreen and print maps if GPS failed, Spouse JM and I motored 200 mile west of our North Carolina home to our totality destination in Greenville.
Traffic gods were with us, and we arrived after lunch at the first stop on our bucket list, the Eclipse Extravaganza at Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville.
Roper Mountain Science Center
The Science Center's 62-acre educational site hosts up to 600 students daily and enhances learning through interactive labs, STEM projects, living history exhibits. scientist talks, and more.
It also boasts an observatory powered by the world's eighth-largest 23″ refractor telescope.
The Center's state-of-the-art planetarium ran a brilliant animated show about eclipse facts and history that set us straight for watching the event.
Sitting back in those comfy seats to view the 360 image projections was the perfect way to get in a solar minset and out of a broiling summer day (heat index near 100F).
We mingled with visitors of all ages: babies in strollers seniors in wheelchairs, and parents working crowd control to keep kids close. (imho, parents had just as much fun as their children in the hands-on labs and talks with scientists for young learners.)
Downtown Greenville, SC
After settling into our motel, there was just enough time to motor down the interstate for 20 minutes to explore downtown Greenville and Falls Park on the Reedy.
This vibrant urban space sparkled with food, fun, art, fountains, and
flowing from the banks of Reedy Creek that sliced through city center.
The park's crown jewel was its suspension bridge with jaw-dropping views of waterfalls and rocks below. (Not recommended for anybody with vertigo. Plus, the bridge swayed as you walked over it!)
Parking spaces were at a premium, and people were everywhere...walkways, bridges, shops, creek...all in a good mood (well, maybe not tired babies) and beyond pumped to be here.
Like Disney on caffeine at peak season, we stood in long queues for everything, especially mouth-watering ice cream treats, but it was all a great adventure.
that chocolate-almond-coconut combo ice cream JM ordered?
Soooooooo worth the 20-minute wait!
The big day at last! I hardly slept a wink. Too excited!
Fingers crossed for clear skies, we hit the local mall for an air-conditioned morning walk, the closest place to exercise without mega-traffic.
We found a few others recharging at the mall, too. LOL - Have you EVER seen the Apple store this empty?
Given clogged streets and summer temps, we nixed plans to drive anywhere to view totality. Instead, we opted for a pool party right outside our door in the motel courtyard.
With chairs and cool beverages staked out,
it was like any pool party
with 100 strangers
on a hot August day ...
.... you popped on
your funky specs
Through solar lenses, the sun appeared as a radiant orange ball no bigger than the size of a pea. Its top-right edge was diminishing before our eyes, slowly replaced by the moon's black shadow.
AhHa! NOW I understood why ancient Chinese and Mayan cultures thought a celestial dragon nibbling at the sun caused the phenomenon. I could imagine that great dragon taking a tasty bite. You, too?
According to Roper Mountain Science Center, the ancients shouted and waved sticks at the dragon to stop it from eating Sol and bring back the light. It worked for the ancients every time, but we didn't try it <winking here>.
We stayed glued to the sky, taking breaks to rest the eyes and talk to people around us, who came from all over for this spectacle.
When the sun was 3/4 covered, a gentlemen walked over to us, excitedly pointing to the sidewalk in back of our chairs. I thought he wanted us to move, but he couldn't wait to show us wonders right under our noses (er, um, butts!).
Leaves from the Crape Myrtle shading us also filtered sunlight. Like hundreds of pinhole cameras, they sprinkled charming teeny crescents across the cement.
Cue a great chourus of OOOOoooos and AAAaaahhhhhhs.
But these crescents cuties were nothing compared to what was next.
Beads, Diamonds and DARK
About 10 minutes before totality, daylight dimmed. A strange golden glow crept round like dawn threading on a cloudy day. We grew quiet, knowing something incredible was about to happen.
Funny, the darker it got, the quieter we got.
Seconds before totality, one bright bead flared on the edge of a sun disk covered in sparkles like a diamond ring.
Then in the blink of an eye protected with solar lenses, the sun was obliterated except for its shimmery corona leaking out behind the moon.
It was The Big Wow:
Darkness and TOTALITY!
For two minutes and 10 seconds, we drank in the wonder of glorious night in the middle of the day, strangers bonded in our shared experience of this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
People say watching an eclipse
changes their life,
like a cleansing of the old
and starting of the new.
Others tell of a spiritual experience
that deepens their faith,
strengthens their respect for nature
or helps them realize
we are all one part
of a wondrous universe.
Holding tight to JM
and feeling awed
to be a teeny part
of this immense cosmos,
Did you watch the eclipse in person or on telly? What was YOUR eclipse experience like? We'd love to hear about it in the comment section.
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