Aug 29

102 – Planning Your Solar Eclipse Experience. Things To Watch Out For.

Hi everybody, welcome to the 8 21 17 podcast.  Episode 102, entitled ‘basic trip planning for the solar eclipse’.  I’m Ed Owen, your host.
Next August 21, millions of people in the US will journey into the path of the total solar eclipse.  And it’s probably safe to say TENS of millions will make the trip.  Roads will be crowded, hotels will be full, and infrastructure will be strained to the max.  Today we’re talking about the basics of planning your trip.  With proper planning, your eclipse viewing will be an event to remember the rest of your life.  But, it could also end up being a huge disappointment.  Together, we can keep that from happening.
OK, so you’ve made up your mind to see the eclipse.  But let’s determine what type of eclipse viewer you are.  You might be what I call the “professional” eclipse viewer.  This viewer is VERY serious about their eclipse watching.  They’ve probably been to one or more already, they know what they’re doing, and let’s be honest, they probably AREN’T listening to this basic planning podcast.  And that’s ok!  They’re the ones who will have a plan, then another plan on top of that one if conditions aren’t right, and probably a third and fourth plan.  If any of them ARE listening, feel free to send us tips at ‘podcast at eclipse made easy dot com’.
So, let’s put that group aside and go to the rest of you.  Two types.  Those of you who want to do the planning yourself.  And those of you who want someone else to take care of everything.  It really doesn’t matter how serious you are about watching the eclipse, the items we’ll discuss concern each of you in their own way.
First, a couple of points.  It is estimated that tens of millions of people will journey to the centerline of the eclipse.  This will happen from Oregon to South Carolina.  What that has created are hundreds of events, festivals and commercial operations, all vying to get you to spend your time (and yes, money), in their area.  And that’s fine.  As long as you pick the best deal for you and your eclipse watching, and a location that you know you’ll be able to access on Monday, August 21st.
We’re not going to try and tell you one way is better than the other, or one is good and one is bad.  That is totally up to YOU to decide.  But we’ll give you some pointers.
OK, let’s get started.
The eclipse on August 21 is basically an event of a few hours.  Before and after that 2 to 3 hours will be a show.  And the morning of August 21 is going to be crazy.  Traffic promises to be massive moving into towns along the centerline.  So you want to make sure that you can be in whatever place you plan to be, in plenty of time, with as little hassle as possible.  This should be your most important thought.
Also take into consideration that the eclipse falls on a Monday.  That gives you a great opportunity for a long weekend doing any number of things.  Museums, parks, camping, whatever.  If you decide to make a weekend of it, you can either decide you want to be in area X on the weekend, near the centerline, and find a view site from there, or start with a view site and look for things to do nearby as a secondary thought.  Again, no right or wrong.
Let’s talk about infrastructure.
If you’re looking at a site to view the eclipse, consider everything.  The size of the town, the location of the view site, and even the roads leading in to it.  IF you’re going to be at the general area of the view site a day or two early, this really isn’t as big of a deal.  You can get settled in with no worries and be prepared on August 21st.  But if you are considering a view site where there is ‘day of’ travel involved, make sure you know what you’re involved with.
Many municipalities around the country are putting on viewing events and festivals.  And there are great plans involved for those eclipse viewers who make the trek.
But here are some questions you should think about as you make your eclipse watching plans.  If your plan is to drive in day of, then use this simple check sheet.
First, how large is the area I’m visiting, and what kind of roads do they have leading into the view area?  A worse case scenario would be an eclipse view site, open to the public, a free event, that becomes incredibly overcrowded early, with inadequate parking for the masses and no overflow plan.  And let’s say those roads we talked about to the site aren’t made for this kind of traffic.  Well, you’d hate to be stuck in a traffic jam when the eclipse occurs.
Or what about you actually make it to the view site, and conditions are so tight that you can’t set up a camera or other equipment without fear of it getting jostled, or even knocked over.  These are questions you have to ask.  You may be saying to yourself, I’m not worried about taking pictures, etc., but I assure you as we get closer and closer to the eclipse, you’re going to start thinking about just what YOU need to do to be able to make your own photographic memory.
Bottom line, am I guaranteed sufficient space to actually ENJOY the eclipse, take photos, etc.  Or will I feel like a sardine in the proverbial can.  If you’ve spent a year or more planning this event, you should be able to find a facility that offers you an atmosphere to enjoy it, and to make it productive for you personally.
Next, what kinds of facilities is the event site going to offer?
What about food?  Shade?  Seating?  Water?  Restrooms?
Do you need to bring your own view glasses, or will they be provided?
If you investigate all of these items, then you should have great success in finding a view site that provides a lifetime of memories.
Now, package deals.  We’re just making you aware of them in case you DON’T want to make your own plans.  All across the country, various groups, primarily travel oriented companies, are making eclipse package plans available to you.  In most cases, they’ve secured sites which will allow you a private viewing area, with plenty of space, and various amenities such as lunches, viewing glasses, drinks, entertainment, and the assurance you will get to your view site in plenty of time for the eclipse.  And, the ultimate viewing luxury.  Space.
Depending on your needs, one of these might work well for you.
Bottom line.  Study, and book early.  And maximize your view time.  That is what it is all about.
That’s it for this episode of the podcast.   PLEASE leave us comments at the website and if you like the podcast, rate us at whichever site you subscribe at.  You can also email me at podcast@eclipsemadeeasy.com.
Until next time, I’m Ed Owen for the 8 21 17 podcast.