Murrels Inlet, SC
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While staying at Huntington Beach State Park and driving around taking care of a few errands, I saw a big sign for a Summer Lights Festival at the Brookgreen Gardens - right across the street from the campground. Intrigued, I jumped on the computer when we were back at the trailer and discovered it was a series of illuminated silk lantern sculptures in a variety of native animals, insects and plants, in the zoo section of the park (think Chinese Lantern Festival). There was only one night it was open while we were in town, but that’s all I needed!
Phil wasn’t as excited as I was, so he dropped me off and I got to wander alone.
Since it only runs 7pm to 10pm I decided to get there early and walk around while it was still light out. Then walk around again once it was fully dark, that turned out to be perfect. The lanterns were nice at dusk, but they were amazing in the dark! There were volunteers everywhere to answer questions and show you the way if you were lost. One volunteer told me this was the first summer of the festival and all the lanterns were made specifically for Brookgreen Gardens. Very cool!
When you first drive in, you are met by a trio of peacocks. Once you walk through the entrance gate there are butterflies for everyone to take their pictures in front of. Then you enter the zoo and walk under an arch of parasols. I think my favorites are the sunflowers! Then as you walk, the lanterns match the exhibits (i.e. at the otter exhibit there are otter lanterns . . . alligators by the alligators) and then - - - OH NO - - - then the camera battery declared it was ‘exhausted’! To make matters worse the 2 back up batteries in my bag were never charged. How did this happen? I finished the loop taking pictures with my the cell phone. Now back at the entrance what to do, call Phil and end the evening early? No way!
Since the light rain is getting a little heavier I decided to find the pavilion I went by earlier to get out of the rain and see if it had an electric outlet. Sure enough, there was an outlet there, it was right next to a bench, and it was working. Perfect - now charging the camera battery, out of the rain, waiting for full dark - I read my book.
By the time full dark came around, my battery was charged, the rain had stopped and I was ready for another 1 mile loop around all of the displays. Every lantern was even better with the background faded away by the night and the camera battery lasted for the whole trip. Yeah!
As I walked out of the zoo area, Phil was at the entrance waiting to pick me up and take me home! What a fantastic night!
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