PSA: The Great American Eclipse of 2017


Book your travel this week. Accommodation and Transportation is filling up fast.

If you don’t want to do the research, book a flight to Portland, OR (PDX) on Saturday or Sunday, back on Tuesday. Get a rental car and book a hotel in Portland or close. On Monday, get up at 5am, check the weather, and drive to the closest area inside the path of the eclipse that promises a cloud free sky.

What’s going on?

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 is happening August 21st. The moon will completely cover the sun for a bit over 2 minutes. If you want to see it, you may need to plan ahead.  It will be like this:

The next one in the US mainland will be August 21st, 2017, around 10:30am. 12M Americans just have to s step outside and hope for a cloud free sky. If you are one of them, block your calendar from 9am to noon. The rest of us has to travel. Check now if you can take the day off. Your kids may already be back to school.

1. Decide Destination

Find out where you want to go first. Distance to where you live, and expected weather are the main criteria. Madras, OR is a good location if you live in Silicon Valley, as it’s close and typically has good weather in August. (If your company has an office in Portland, a visit there is worth a shot, too. The visitor desks will be busy.)

2. Book Accommodation and Flights – now

Hotels are sold out out along the path. Expect to have to drive an hour or two on the day of the eclipse, and expect traffic jams.

But there is an opening coming this week (week before 2/19) for Federal Campgrounds that take reservations 6 months in advance. These sites will go fast. Portland still has some reasonable priced flights, mostly because there are so many flights from Silicon Valley to Portland. But flying to, say Redmond, OR, costs $800 already…

More Information

For Geeks

This guys computed the irregular shadow using elevation models of the Earth and the Moon and created an amazing video. The practical impact of this level of details is minimal, as you want to be in the middle of the shadow anyway, not at the edge. But it’s awesome.


Solarfest is the local even in Madras, OR. Their Facebook page has more updates than their Web site.

National Eclipse

They have some background information and some nice maps on their site.

Next Chances


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Travel Recipe: Galapagos – 11 days – Walk in Darwin’s Steps

Is visiting the Galapagos Islands on your bucket list? This trip will take you to Galapagos, and Quito, Ecuador’s capital with minimal planning and maximum fun.

We did this trip with 3 kids from 8-14 years old.  I recommend ~5 days on a cruise, and ~3 days in Quito at a minimum.

This post focuses only on the itinerary aspects of this trip, and makes some recommendations on choices to make. The quickest way to book this is to copy the itinerary section below into an e-mail to a travel agent (recommendations at the bottom) and have them come up with proposals.

The Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Fly to Quito. Relax
  • Day 2-6 – Fly to Galapagos Islands, Cruise, Fly back. Spend 5 days on the boat.
  • Day 7-10 Spend time in Quito and visit the surroundings – especially Otavalo. You want a Saturday in Otavalo, and you want to spend Friday night there.
  • If you have extra time and interest, consider visiting a rain forest, like Maquipucuna.
  • Day 11 – Travel Back.

Getting There

From SFO and other US cities, it’s a red eye on United through Houston. Stay the night, acclimatize, rest. We stayed an extra day. I don’t like to rush things, but it’s probably ok to just stay one night, or possibly head straight to Galapagos. You may also fly through Guaiaquil.

The Cruise

You have to make a few decisions regarding the ship, foremost Size and Itinerary. We picked a large ship and chose the South Eastern Islands. 5 Days 4 nights.


You are trading stability and amenities of a larger boat against intimacy of a small boat. We chose the go with a 100 passenger boat, which is maximum size of boat allowed by the National Park Service. This is also the maximum number of people they let anchor at any given spot. While a smaller boat may be more intimate, you may end up with multiple boats at the same place.


These boats are on a two week itinerary to most of the Islands. Unless you want to stay 2 weeks on the cruise (why not, if you have the time and means), you will need to pick a part of this. Which Islands mostly depends on the alignment of your travel dates and the ship itinerary.

Travel Agency

This itinerary requires some transfers, and various bookings. We don’t usually use travel agencies, but did for this time for the Ecuador part and just booked the flights ourselves (to Quito). I recommend both Gabriela Fuentes our travel agent and the agency. They seem expensive, but we got premium service and everything worked out very well. There is of course no guarantee for that.

We had great drivers, and always felt save. That folks that spoke English, spoke it very well (on one trip we had an extra guide, so the driver didn’t need to speak English, but understood quite a bit anyway). I organized everything over e-mail. As a heads up, you probably end up wiring a lot of money because credit card (or PayPal) fees will be significant on this transaction. Galapagos is not a cheap destination – by design.

Send an e-mail to Columbus Travel, with your dates, and the above itinerary, and you’ll get a few suggestions back.

Descripción: GabrielaFuentes

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