SOLAR ECLIPSE 2017
Our RV trip planning can take so many different forms including national parks, experiencing the magic of Disney, a beach vacation or a simple weekend getaway. No matter the trip, we always try to work in a little bit of homeschooling education. We’re not always successful but you have to try, don’t you? When I first learned of the full solar eclipse, I knew I had to be there to see it in person. I knew this would be a different kind of trip, having grown up kind of a science geek, and wanting to be an astronaut.
This is as close as I get to be a real astronaut.
That was before l I outgrew everyone and discovered a talent for football. Even with that, I’ve always loved the stars, and science. With a total solar eclipse coming so close to our home base, I just had to check it out.
After reviewing some information, I narrowed down the viewing locations to two of our favorite destinations. It was a difficult choice between Nashville, TN and Greenville, SC. We have spent time in both on previous RV trips, but I chose Greenville due to its closeness and the kids loved the Roper Science Center and Planetarium. The next question was where to stay? It just happens that both locations have great campground options. I settled on a wonderful campground, Traveler’s Rest KOA.
Our Deluxe site at Traveler’s Rest KOA
I was so excited to tell the boys, as they already had a passion for learning about the solar system. So I let them in on our little secret “boys only trip”. Of course, Tia couldn’t let this opportunity pass by without enhancing their education.
Studying the solar eclipse booklet
I agreed it would be a shame for them to experience this once in a lifetime event and not learn as much as they could about it. There were plenty of great educational materials to choose from. Our favorite was the National Parks Service Services Junior Ranger Booklet.
Working on NPS Solar Eclipse Booklet
I wish we could send the completed form in for a badge. By the end of their studies their passion for the solar system had doubled!
Greenville, SC was the perfect spot for our solar eclipse trip. We spent the first two days hiking.
Boys having fun on the trails…
One hike was particularly challenging for us new hikers. The pay off of the waterfall views were well worth the sweat and agony I experienced hiking up and down. I wondered who in the world rates these trails.
Enjoying this fabulous waterfall view
As Monday arrived the excitement could be felt in the air. Tens of thousands of eclipse watchers had descended on this town. We started out early to the Roper Mountain Science Center with our viewing tickets in hand. Planning for heavy traffic we left very early, but traffic was a nightmare, and it was discouraging. If RVing has taught me anything, it’s not to be afraid to change the plan and pull off the road to check something out. Spending 45 minutes inching along in traffic trying to get to the science center I noticed a viewing party in the parking lot next to me. Decision time. Stay in line or take a chance and check out the parking lot party. We took the risk and it paid off big time. We swung into the half full parking lot and joined the watch party!
Set up and ready for the Eclipse!
We met people from all over. Some locals and even a single mother with her two boys who drove all the way from New York!
We set up our spot on a grassy area and waited. The boys must have asked me a thousand times, “how much more time till totality?” I have to admit that I was just as excited as they were. It was the perfect time to have the boys practice using their glasses.
Practicing wearing our eclipse glasses
Finally the moment came, and we all put on our glasses to view the moon begin to overtake the sun. It took over an hour to get to those few minutes of totality. In Greenville, we would experience about 2 and 1/2 minutes of totality. When the moon finally covered the sun, the roar from the crowd was deafening. I found myself cheering and clapping loudly.
You can watch tons of videos on what it’s like viewing a full solar eclipse, but the time spent in totality is a very personal experience. For me it was a connection to this great cosmic galaxy that God created. I was in total awe for the full 2 1/2 minutes. I had never felt so small and so connected at the same time. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. Having my boys by my side made it even more priceless.
Photo by @thebrightwaysrvrs on Twitter
When we started RVing more than four years ago, we knew there would be benefits. We heard all the taglines about inexpensive vacations and making memories. Even though these are true, we never knew how deeply RVing would affect our family. We’re very confident that if we had not become RVers, experiencing the solar eclipse would never have happened.
Enjoying our time together…
RVing has changed our family and our priorities. The 2017 solar eclipse was a wonderful reminder of all the adventures and experiences out there waiting for us.
So if you missed this Solar Eclipse, for whatever reason, make it a priority to catch the next one. The next solar eclipse to find US soil isn’t until 2024.
Time to start planning. April 2024 is right around the corner!
Keith and Tia Sims
Soulful RV family