Noah and I went to see the total eclipse in South Carolina on August 21st of 2017. It happened at about 2:45 in the afternoon and lasted for two minutes. We got up at an insanely early time in order to drive down to South Carolina in time to find an acceptable place to view the eclipse. We ended up arriving early (which is never a bad thing) and driving through tons of traffic, roaming through festivals and crowds, before finally settling on The Greenville Zoo as our viewing place.
The entire city seemed to have taken the day off work for the occasion.
I don’t have any epic pictures of the eclipse itself because all that could be photographed was a light splash in the middle of a slightly shadowy sky. The weirdest thing about it was that, without glasses, the sun looked no different. It just kept getting dimmer and dimmer and dimmer.
Until it was nighttime.
Pictures simply do not do the event any justice. It was dark. The only light came from a small circle around the moon and also the zoo lanterns. Some of the animals were remarkably docile during the entire time while others (mainly lemurs) continued with random outbursts of wild screams throughout both the light and dark.
Shadows from trees usually look like tree and leaf shapes, but that day they took crescent shapes nearest to the eclipse. Even our bodies’ shadows were obscure.
After the eclipse, we left the zoo and drove to Falls Park on the Reedy River. We explored the town, went for long walks, crossed bridges, walked in the water, nearly pet ducks, watched a comedy club (definitely worth your time–the one we found was free), picked up a free plant (I still have that plant; it survives even though I’m terrible at watering it–what a trooper), and had an ultimately wonderful time.
The drive back was long and exhausting, but we made a great memory and I really wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Travel tips, anyone?
- Plan ahead to arrive early. You don’t know the place, you don’t know the delays. Being early can’t really hurt (it just might mean you gotta get up a few hours before the sun and you’ll have some extra time to wander around).
- McDonald’s gives you free ice water. Lots of places charge (Sonic, for instance), but McDonald’s doesn’t, and when it’s a sunny 92°F in South Carolina, this is valuable. Invaluable, really.
- Traveling for a total eclipse is worth it. If you ever have the chance, go. Noah and I drove about 5 hours to see this one (10 hours round trip in one day), and while that’s understandably impossible for a lot of people, the trip is well worth it. There’s just something really cool about it being night in the middle of the day.
- Some strangers are actually cool people. We didn’t have any glasses for viewing the eclipse (we aren’t planners, and neither of us really thought that part through), but several people offered us theirs to borrow. An eclipse is an awesome experience and there’s something cool about how perfect strangers were eager to share it with us, to better our experience, and to bond over why it’s so cool. Also, they’ll absolutely take your picture for you and probably not steal your phone (keyword, probably).
- Take turns driving. One of you can sleep while the other drives and that’s okay.