Look out America, there are just five days to go until we arrive!
How did we get here? I'll tell you, because you are the kind of people who want to know ;-). Looking way back, I find the first image that started this adventure was a Google Maps screen grab of the USA 2017 Eclipse Path (shown above), and that dates from 13 July 2014. So, this road trip has been three years in the planning.
Scanning through the folder of files once more, from the possibility of us view the eclipse anywhere along this great east to west track, it seems I had narrowed that down to Wyoming barely a month later. OK, so we're heading West! (puts on the theme from A Few Dollars More) A further annotated image (below) shows that by 25 August, a collection of possible sights to augment this cosmic spectacle of nature was already well-developed (with marginal help from Steve and Louise who I class as our western trailblazers), and this was to form the outline for our route.
It soon became apparent there was no way all this excitement could be contained in one trip, for after less haphazard planning, the time a realistic route could be travelled was calculated to be in the region of six weeks. Six weeks? Was the doable? Hell, it was! (music kicks up to the theme from Bonanza) Alas, New Mexico and Southern Arizona would have to wait for another day. So, it was adios Roswell - at least we can catch up with your buddies in Area 51 ;-). The Truth Is In There.
Over the next year and a half, little bits of research grew, and this more or less led to the final road-trip route. We've arrived at November 2015 - bookings would be starting real soon, folks.
We wanted to stay for four days at the Old Faithful Inn, which sits in Yellowstone National Park, in view of the geyser of the same name. Busy summers mean you need to book early, which is exactly my cup of tea. I therefore emailed National Park Reservations (the only place you can book from) on 1 March 16 to enquire about our stay. Andrea emailed back the following day to say we were on the list for reservations, as bookings for 2017 didn't open until 1 May 2016. That was your "book early for the National Parks" travel tip, if you needed encouragement. Duly, on the 1 May, our reservation came through.
Smashing. That's 1 hotel out of 28 booked! ;-)
Just to add, in case you thought I had some planning OCD or something ;-), I needed to make sure we had somewhere to stay during the time of the eclipse. We arrive on 20 Aug, travel south to see the thing on 21 Aug, then spend a few more days looking for Yogi before heading off. It's a journey into the unknown how quickly/if/when accommodation nearby the path would sell out, so I needed closure - and I needed it quickly!
On to hotel number 2... Fun though this would be for you to hear about every single reservation, I see no enjoyment in the process - plus, I'm so very, very busy. Very busy.
Just know that the rest of the stays were booked through Hotels.com or Booking.com. The idea was to get enough stays with each in order to get their benefits, such as free nights or complimentary drinks. Possibly using these sites is a good hint to the manager that there could be a review on the way - not sure if it does get you better service, but there's nothing to lose.
There was one place en route that had to be booked direct (in addition to Old Faithful Inn) because it wasn't on any of the mass-market sites. On our research we came across Gold Point Ghost Town [www.goldpointghosttown.com] in Nevada - there was no way we're missing this: It's an old mining town with the usual wooden buildings dating from the early 1900's, all standing in the vast desert plains just north of Death Valley. The skies here will be way, way dark; and on 29 July, when we're here, the Moon will only be a 6 day-old evening crescent (sitting next to Jupiter and Spica, for space fans - merci), so the night will be left inky black.
Finally, we have booked some things to add to the already tremendous fun: a zip wire flight through the streets of Las Vegas (it's called Slotzilla), a helicopter flight across the Grand Canyon and horseback riding through canyons near Arches National Park.
There's more - but the excitement for this blog ends here.
Let's see how long I can keep this daily journal going once we get there on Monday! ;-) Follow us and see! Have a Nice Day, y'all.