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In case you’ve been living under a rock, there is a very-VERY-much-hyped solar eclipse that will be occurring in the U.S. on August 21, 2017. It is likely going to be the most viewed ever as millions of Americans travel to see this phenomenon.
Path of the eclipse
The eclipse will start around 10:00 a.m. local time in Oregon, southeast of Portland. The path of totality will then pass in an arc across the U.S. until it leaves the U.S. near South Carolina.
Make sure you know the time of the eclipse in your local time! Figure out your relation to GMT, and then compare to when that will occur where you live. I previously pegged the eclipse time in Oregon at a little after 9:00, but I forgot to factor in daylight savings time!
Scouring the eclipse path for a room
Since I honestly didn’t expect to still be in the country in August, I said goodbye to any eclipse plans months ago. But…it turns out we *will* be here, as everything in adoption happens later than you think it will. We thought we’d be in Costa Rica this summer, but it turns out we will finally be (hopefully) traveling in September to meet our kids (SEE: A new look at award flight options for our adoption trip).
So…I started looking for eclipse hotel options very late in the game.
As I suspected, award nights close to the eclipse path were impossible to find. I tried Wyoming and Nebraska, and then Idaho. I even looked as far east as Kansas City, Missouri. Nada. The closest I could come up with was Longmont, Colorado. But even that is quite a ways from the eclipse path.
I also found a couple options in Medford, Oregon. But Medford is over 3 hours from the eclipse path, and with the eclipse occurring at 10:00 a.m. local time, it wasn’t ideal. Doable, but not ideal. I decided to save this as as the backup plan if I didn’t find anything else.
Do I pay $500 for a hotel?
Short answer: nope. But the sky-high prices didn’t keep me from at least looking. I thought I’d found a couple reasonable places via Google’s hotel search, but every time I clicked through to book, there was no availability. Figures. Google, stop lying to me!
Everywhere that *did* have rooms available always had horribly inflated prices. Not to mention, if we looked somewhere besides Oregon, I would have to cough up points for flights as well, which was looking just as spotty.
How about Portland?
Portland had been off my radar as it is to the north of the eclipse path, and we live about 7 hours south of the path. I finally realized that driving up to Portland, staying the night, and then driving south about an hour really wasn’t that bad of an idea.
I looked up the Hilton options first and was completely floored when I found a room for 40,000 points at the Doubletree in downtown. I’ve never booked a room more quickly in my life. Cash rates including taxes were over $500!!
Then I did a second search, after I’d logged in, and found that another two hotels had award availability!! Maybe it’s because I’m a Diamond member. In any case, I figured the Hampton Portland/Clackamas was a much better deal at 20,000 points. Cash prices were over $270 after taxes, so it is officially my best Hilton redemption ever at 1.35 cents per Honors point.
Other eclipse preparations
I ordered our eclipse glasses last week, making sure to get a reputable brand and not someone’s uncertified knockoff. Check this page for the list of certified vendors whose glasses meet ISO standards.
I’m also wondering what traffic will be like that morning. I’m hoping we can leave before 7:30 a.m. to ensure we make it to the middle of the path of totality.
My final worry is the weather. There is a reasonable possibility that it will be cloudy in the Willamette Valley. Hopefully we can leave enough flexibility in our schedule to drive to the east side of the Cascades if required!
I consider this one of my best travel hacking wins in a long time. I did *not* expect to score a free room around this event, but Hilton came through for me!
How about you? Have you made travel plans for the eclipse?
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