By December of 2011 I had been engaged for 9 months and was about to be engaged for 6 more. Yeah. Way too long. I was also just beginning to give some real thought to the whole idea of where my soon-to-be-wife and I would go on our honeymoon. So I packed my bags and headed to Mexico. Ok….this was not why. I was headed on a trip to see a friend who does ministry with women and children who have been victims of human trafficking, and who also helps run homes for them. He is an amazing man with an amazing calling. See the results of one of his most recent operations here.
The trip to Mexico provided me with the initial idea that turned into a 2 1/2 week honeymoon adventure. I was taking a long (but cheap) trip by bus and train on Amtrak to San Diego from northern California. And by northern, I really mean northern, like 4+ hours north of San Francisco. The Bay Area will only ever be northern California if the state of Jefferson comes into existence. But that is a completely unrelated story and I digress.
The Amtrak trip was painfully long, and I arrived in SD about 5:00 a.m. after leaving Humboldt the previous morning. I was exhasuted. First light came as I was taking the trolley to the border, which I walked across, and then caught a cheap van taxi to Rosarito, where my friend lived at the time. THIS is what you call cheap travel.
While I was at Santa Fe Station in downtown SD, however, a sign caught my eye regarding the Chase Amtrak co-branded Mastercard. I didn’t give it much thought, initially, but I browsed the Amtrak Guest Rewards website while in Rosarito, and on my way to Tijuana on a day trip, everything clicked: I could apply for the card and get enough points for a sleeper redemption to Denver. We will spend our honeymoon in the Rockies.
I texted my fiancé at the time and said: “We are on our way to Tijuana today. I just had the best idea for a honeymoon.” Looking back….that came out completely wrong. And it is painfully obvious how my completely unrelated thoughts indicated to her that I wanted to take her to Tijuana on our honeymoon. I am fortunate I didn’t get a text back saying: “If that is your idea of a honeymoon, this relationship is over.” I had a bit of explaining to do for the rest of the day as I sorted this one out.
Fast-forward a month, and I had successfully applied not only for that Chase Amtrak Mastercard, but also for a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, from which I transferred all the points to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program. After purchasing another 2,500 points for about $70, I redeemed them for one amazing train trip. Our first leg went from Martinez (north Bay Area), California to Denver, Colorado where we stayed for a few days in the Rockies, like I had initially wanted to do. But I added more. From there we flew on Delta to New York City, a place to which my wife had always dreamed of going, and spent another 4 amazing days. From there it was free train travel for the remainder of the trip, with a stopover in New Orleans for two nights, as we headed back from New York City to Klamath Falls via the Crescent, Sunset Limited, and Coast Starlight routes. It was an experience of a lifetime, and got me hooked on the travel rewards game. Those two credit cards that provided my wife and I with an experience that we will never forget, and could never have afforded (essentially $3,500+ of first-class train travel for $70 out of pocket). now we plan to have many more.