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After an amazing New Year’s getaway in Vancouver, my wife and I had a long drive ahead of us to get home to California. Google Maps clocks it at 12.5 hours, and it is the longest I have ever done in one day (my previous record is ~10). Except…it actually wasn’t.

You see, we didn’t quite make it home. From Vancouver, British Columbia all the way to Eugene, Oregon, the weather was spectacular. It was the clearest I’ve ever personally seen the Pacific Northwest in the several times I’ve visited. We had incredible views of the Cascades, the Olympics, Mount Rainier, and Mount Hood. It was an absolutely gorgeous drive.

The clouds finally started to obscure things a little south of Eugene. Snow started lightly falling as we neared Roseburg, but overall it wasn’t too bad. We were still moving at freeway speeds. Things took a turn for the worse as we started through the mountains just north of Grants Pass, and I started to get concerned.

As we entered Grants Pass, I knew things were gonna be ugly on Highway 199 back over to the California coast. Snow was starting to accumulate on the road, and I knew things were just going to get worse through the pass.

Snowy morning in Grants Pass, OR

Stymied by snow

We made it just past Cave Junction when we finally had to turn around. I didn’t have chains for the rental car, and we hit ODOT chain control just a few miles from the CA border.

It was now 5:15 p.m. and there was no way I wanted to take I-5 north again and cut over to the coast on the highway to Reedsport. We wouldn’t get home until probably 1 in the morning, if things went smoothly. Not a fan of that idea.

So we were gonna spend the night. As we neared Grants Pass, I pulled up the IHG app on my cell phone. The battery was critically low, but I hoped I could find a hotel and book it before it died. I quickly found a Holiday Inn Express in Grants Pass and booked it for 20,000 IHG points. Ten minutes later, we were there.

Cash rates were ~$130, so it wasn’t a spectacular use of points. We could have gotten a Candlewood Suites in Medford for only 10,000 points, but I was done. No more driving. I am happy to have saved the money. From mainly promotions and work stays, I raked in over 200,000 IHG points in 2016, so we had plenty to spare. Plus, I’m trying to follow the “earn and burn” principle a little more (SEE: Earn em and burn em).

Points saved the day. We didn’t have to pay walk-up prices for a hotel room (SEE ALSO: One more reason we are so fortunate in this hobby), and we can attempt the drive well rested, in daylight, and in better conditions today.


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