My vacation planning reputation was on the line. Lianne wasn’t enthused, “We are driving 7 hours for a 2 minute experience?”
I admit, I wasn’t sure about it myself. The only thing I had to go one were the first hand accounts of strangers online who had seen a full solar eclipse. They claimed it was momentous, awe inspiring, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I talked it up with genuine excitement as the trip approached. I dreamed about the eclipse two times. I guaranteed an incredible experience. My vacation planning reputation was on the line before the eclipse trip, and now that we’ve returned, my vacation planning reputation is legendary.
I did my research and purchased a set of legit eclipse glasses on Amazon well over a month in advance. I couldn’t find a hotel directly in the path of totality, but I found one in Myrtle Beach. It was an older building, and when Ava first saw it she called it “sketchy,” but it was fine.
Speaking of sketchy, the weather wasn’t looking good when we awoke on Monday morning. I was originally planning to head down toward Charleston, but that was an additional hours drive and we heard some folks at the hotel talking about Georgetown. I decided to save some time and make the switch. We headed out before 10am, and hit traffic, heavy rain, and apocalyptic thunder on the way down. We consoled ourselves with the idea that the rain was draining the clouds so it would be clear when we arrived. That turned out to be prescient.
The weather was beautiful, and we found a great spot at East Bay Park to set up and wait. We bought some italian ice from the vendors, and then hung out and waited. There was a definite sense of excitement as the partial eclipse started. It was neat to see the edge of the moon gradually taking larger and larger chunks out of the sun. The clouds gradually increased and at about 15 minutes until totality the sun was completely obscured by clouds. We saw some blue sky off to the side and hoped that the clouds would move. Ava took notes. Davin bounced around excitedly. Jaron and his friend Kaleb analyzed the cloud cover. Lianne and I watched and waited. The clouds parted and the sun was a mere sliver. The next few minutes are tough to explain. Check out the Youtube video at the end to see our reactions. I think this FB post offers a good analogy.
Think of the most amazing natural sight you’ve seen. Niagara Falls, for example. You’re there, standing near the bottom, or on the boat, but the falls are completely dry. The water only flows at a specific time. 2:46pm. The crowd is waiting with building anticipation, and then the water goes from a trickle to a flood within a few seconds. It crushes your senses. The sheer mass of water and sound is overwhelming. Then, 2 minutes later, it stops and everything goes back to normal. That’s what it was like.
Oh, and it only happens a few times in your lifetime.
Definitely watch the video for our reactions. It’s neat. That wasn’t the end of our trip though. There were a couple of coasters I wanted to ride, and we hung out at the beach on Monday night. Then, at Ava’s insistence, we awoke early on Tuesday morning to see the sunrise.
It was a great way to cap off a memorable trip. The drive was well worth it, and we are already thinking and planning for 2024. Better yet, for me personally, my wife and children are in awe, not only of the eclipse, but of their Dad’s foresight and planning. Awestruck by his ability to stand against criticism and forge ahead. Made speechless by his striking good looks and solid biceps. And most importantly, fawning over his legendary vacation planning abilities. All is as it should be …
It was such a moving experience. The clouds cleared and there it was, or was not. The sun was gone. I couldn’t help but laugh and cry out at the sight. God’s Creation is so wondrous and so inexorably powerful. We are blessed to be alive. That shared experience with my family, and with hundreds of my brothers and sisters, is something I will never forget.