In case you haven’t heard, there’s going to be a solar eclipse next week.
Considering how rarely they happen, it is a bit of a big deal. Solar eclipses are far from frequent, and being within a few miles of the path of totality is obviously even more rare. It’s something I want to take advantage of, since it won’t happen again for a long time, and next time would require actual travel plans.
Eclipse glasses have been selling like hotcakes everywhere, and most places seem to be completely sold out. Optometrist offices are giving them out to patients only. Any stores with free displays have been out for at least a week at this point. People are going mad on social media trying to figure out other options.
My mother asked me 2 weeks ago to grab her a pair from a local apparel store that was advertising free glasses. We were tied up for a few days, so I put it off until some time last week. We went by the store, but the sign on the front door indicated that they were out of stock. Well, that’s unfortunate, but I’m sure other places in Spartanburg have some.
On Friday, I decided to spend my lunch break finding some of these glasses. I started driving toward the closest Walmart, and began calling places that might have some. Local libraries were saving them for their viewing parties during the eclipse. Chain stores for glasses and lenses were sold out, but directed me to local optometrists. These local optometrists had some, but were only giving them out to current patients. When I got to Walmart, they were out of stock, as were all of the other Walmart stores that I called.
Finally, some kind soul at one of the various places I called informed me that Croft State Park had some for sale. I called, expecting to be told that they were fresh out. Fortunately, they still had plenty and were selling them for $2 each. Despite the fact that Croft was about a 15 minute drive from my current location, and there was no way I’d get back to work within my hour lunch break, I stormed off to my car and flew out of the Walmart parking lot.
As I drove out toward Croft, clouds rolled in and it started to rain. The deeper I got into the state park, the harder the rain poured. I’ve never been to Croft before, so I didn’t really know where I was going, or even if the map point that I was navigating to was the same place that would have the glasses for sale. Eventually, the trees opened up and I came upon an intersection with a small log cabin on one corner. This was also the place that my phone was taking me to, so surely I could at least get more information inside.
On the way through the forest, it occurred to me that our plan to get glasses at the viewing party with The Children’s Museum was not guaranteed. The event was open to anyone with a TCM membership (as far as I knew), so feasibly thousands of people could show up. Who’s to say that TCM had purchased enough glasses to go around? Who’s to say we couldn’t show up too late, and be left with no way to safely view the eclipse. Instead of just buying 2 pair of glasses for my mother and one of her coworkers, I’d buy at least 4 more for my immediate family.
When I got inside, there were 2 ladies chatting. One asked what I needed, and I mentioned that I spoke with someone a few minutes ago about eclipse glasses. Coincidentally, one of the ladies was the same one that I talked to on the phone before. And lo and behold, they still had eclipse glasses. I asked the lady if she had at least 10 I could buy, and they did. With that many, I had enough for my mother, my own crew, and 4 more just in case someone else needed a few.
As for where to watch, we’ve decided to go to The Children’s Museum. We already have memberships, so entry is free. Not only that, but they’re supposedly giving out glasses to everyone who comes. Again, I’ve bought enough for my family, but those are a backup option. Nobody is going to know that we have those until I try to get the ones that TCM should be giving out for free.
My employer has announced that they’ll be doing a viewing party outside for the few minutes of the eclipse, but there are a few problems with that. One, I work in Spartanburg, which is outside the path of totality. With an event this rare, do you really think I’m going to accept a sub-par experience when I could go a little ways southwest and get the full show? Of course not.
Several other places have announced that they’ll be hosting viewing parties, but I figured TCM is our best bet with kids. It is both educational, and in a prime location to see the spectacle. I’m not looking forward to traffic in the area, since it has been estimated to be about the same as 3 Clemson football games letting out at the same time. I hate traffic, and trying to find a place to park, but I’ll put up with it for something like this.
Hopefully, this time next week, we will have seen the solar eclipse and not have any damaged retinas. I might try to snap a few pictures and videos, but I’ll mostly leave that to the professionals. There will undoubtedly be people with better cameras, more skill, and better views, creating better photos and videos of this event than mine. YouTube it in a few weeks and I guarantee you’ll find some impressive footage.