Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Events

3 Reasons I’m Glad I Traveled to See the Eclipse

Last week an amazing natural phenomenon was enjoyed by millions of people across the United States: a total solar eclipse. The path of totality arced across the entire United States, resulting in a name of The Great American Eclipse.

While eclipses are fairly routine (a total eclipse happens every couple years on average), it is more rare to be able to see totality. You have to be at the perfect intersection of time and location. Some people could live there whole life and never end up in the path of a total solar eclipse!

Even if you weren’t watching from along the path, you could still enjoy the eclipse with special solar glasses. However, you missed an absolute wonder if you didn’t make it into the path of totality. Here’s why:

It may be a once in a lifetime experience

While there is always the possibility that we will catch another eclipse, being able to only travel a few hours to the path of totality pretty much makes this a once in a lifetime experience. There will be another eclipse over the eastern United States in a few years, but no more that stretch across the U.S. until 2045 (this one actually passes directly over Humboldt County).

I figure that we may be able to catch another eclipse. I’d sure like to with our kids. But in case we don’t, I didn’t want to miss this one.

Totality *must* be experience in person

Everything I read leading up to the eclipse said you *must* make it to the path of totality for the best experience. There were a few naysayers who didn’t really think it was all that interesting, but I took the words of those who had experienced other eclipses to heart.

And we weren’t disappointed. The eclipse with enjoyable for the hour or so leading up to totality, but it was in the last couple minutes and then totality itself when I finally felt an absolute sense of wonder. We were able to see the “diamond ring” moments before totality, and then experience the 360 degree “sunset” all around us. It was utterly surreal during the middle of the day.

It made me ponder life

The eclipse is truly a marvel of creation. It is a spectacular event that is orchestrated so perfectly. The fact that the moon fits exactly over the sun a handful of times each decade makes it a unique and amazing sight. If the moon were a bit further from earth, or if the orbital planes were oriented differently, we wouldn’t even see any eclipses.

But we do. The heavenly bodies are hurtling through space at thousands of miles per hour, yet in perfect harmony, and we get this amazing sight at a few, precious prescribed times. I feel so small and insignificant in this vast universe the Lord has created.


I definitely hope to see another total solar eclipse, and I really hope we can travel so that our kids can see one. If you missed this one, I encourage you to plan for the 2024 eclipse that will cross North America!

Join Me for a Second Travel Hacking Seminar!

Back in March I offered a free seminar to friends and family (SEE: Reserve a Seat at the First Humboldt Travel Hacking Seminar). A few people asked me if I would hold a second one, and the answer was “most likely yes.” Originally, I had hoped to plan a second one during early May. Although that window has now come and gone, I have now arranged it for early June. Here are the details:

  • Date: Monday, June 5, 2017
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (might run long…last time did)
  • Venue: Ferndale Pizza Company (607 Main Street, Ferndale)
  • Format: Presentation will run about 90 minutes, then Q&A (as well as some Q&A mixed in).
  • Other: Hopefully we’ll have refreshments like last time (cookies and coffee/water)!

The seminar is free, not because the info isn’t valuable, but I don’t want to charge for a starter-level event like this. I really enjoy helping people save money on travel!!

Please *do* RSVP via this link, if you’re planning on attending. Please feel free to contact me with any questions before the event.

Hope to see you all there!!

Points with a Crew SF Meetup Recap

Yesterday evening I met up with Dan Miller of Points with a Crew (PWaC) and a bunch of travel hackers from the Bay Area. The event was also promoted by Grant Thomas who also writes a BoardingArea blog, aptly named Travel with Grant.

We met at the Staybridge Suites in San Bruno, which is where Dan and his family are staying through tomorrow. They are enjoying SF today and will fly back home to Cincinnati early tomorrow morning.

The meetup was a great two hours. We talked miles and points, shared about upcoming trips, discussed reselling and credit card churning, and grumbled about the SF Bay Area MS scene (or difficulty thereof). A few people were pretty new to the travel hacking game, and it was great to give them suggestions on how to best earn or burn miles. There were nearly 20 people, and most stayed through 9:00 p.m. when my wife and I took off.

Some people were surprised that we had traveled that far just for the event. I realized later I forgot to explain to almost all of them that I write for PWaC. That probably would have helped them understand why we drove the 5 hours from Ferndale.

It was great to meet Dan, and great to meet some readers in the Bay Area. I’ve been writing for PWaC for 3.5 months now, so it was about time I got to meet the guy who recruited me.

The one bummer was that the two other writers, Sam and Sharon, were unable to attend. Sharon lives close on the peninsula, but she had other obligations. Sam is across the country in New York, so it was understandable he couldn’t make it.

Future meetups?

Dan has organized a few local meet-ups for Cincinnati folks, and I think he has done a couple others in the past. He has also spoken at a couple conferences, including Family Travel for Real Life. I’m actually hoping to go to that conference this year in May if the timing works out.

While I didn’t advertise this meet-up (thinking it’d be a bit far for many people), I’ll definitely advertise any events in the future.

A Successful Travel Hacking Intro Presentation

On Monday I gave a presentation to 15 friends and family on the basics of travel hacking through credit cards. It was a fun time, although I did run much longer than I anticipated. I should have blocked out a bit more time.

Public speaking isn’t really my thing, but this seemed different. I was only mildly nervous before we started, and that quickly dissipated once we got rolling. Attendees asked some great questions, and I was happy that there are people interested in this topic. It was fun for me more than anything. I love sharing the knowledge I’ve gained over these past 5 years.

We covered the basics of loyalty programs, how to use credit cards to earn serious amounts of points and miles in said programs, and some of the specifics about credit card offers and how to use credit cards wisely. We finished off with an introduction to airline and hotel loyalty programs, as well as flexible bank rewards programs. The last few minutes were spent speeding through some specific loyalty programs that I find highly lucrative.

Finally, I need to say thanks to my in-laws for the venue and easel (to hold the flip chart), and to my wife and mother-in-law for making cookies. I wasn’t planning on doing anything more than water, so y’all got lucky.

Should we do this again?

Considering that my flip chart (a.k.a poor man’s power point) took a me few hours to put together and is still completely usable, I am considering offering a second session if there is enough interest. More than likely it will be in a couple months at the same venue. It will cover the same material, so if you came this time, there won’t be anything new.  You’re welcome to attend again, though.

In light of that, if anyone is interested in a second session, please send me a note on the contact me page, by phone or text (if you have my number), or through Facebook message with my webpage. I’ll be eyeing a Monday in early May.

Also, I was missing a few who RSVP’ed for the first session, so I will certainly send out a reminder email a couple days in advance for any future sessions.

Reserve a Seat at the First Humboldt Travel Hacker Seminar

For months now I’ve been wanting to hold a seminar for family and friends who are interested in learning more about the travel rewards game. I’ve finally settled on a date and venue, so without further ado, the first Humboldt Travel Hacker Seminar is announced:

When: Monday, March 20th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Where: Ferndale Pizza Company, Ferndale, California

Cost: Free

There will not be pizza. Sorry to burst that bubble. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, which is why I can use it. We’ll have the place to ourselves. Shout out to my in-laws who are letting us use the place.

The event will be held in the back room of the restaurant, and seating will be limited to that space, so there will be a maximum of 24 people.

What will the event cover?

The seminar will be a starter course in “travel hacking”. It’s intended to be for those who are interested in how to travel more cheaply or for free, but don’t really know where to start. The seminar will cover some general basics of hotel and loyalty programs, how to accrue miles through credit card sign-ups and spending, and how to use miles for free travel. There will be an open Q&A session at the end.

If the event is a success, I’ll likely hold a second one in the future. Spread the word to friends if you think they might be interested.

How to register and other details

If you are interested in the seminar, please message me via the Points, Miles & Life Facebook page or via the contact form at pointsmilesandlife.com with your name and number attending. If you have my personal email and/or phone number, you’re welcome to contact me by either of those methods as well. I’ll add you to the list of attendees.

Feel free to contact me with questions prior to the event as well.

If you reserve a seat but later realize you cannot make it, please let me know as soon as possible in case someone else can still take your place. I don’t really expect us to fill up, but it may happen.

Hope to see you all there!