My “perfect” Charleston SC Eclipse trip 2017 – What a great use of points!

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This trip was somewhat of a spur of the moment trip, but not in the way you might think. I did book this trip on the last day I could redeem Alaska points to fly Delta and was looking for trips I may want to take before the AS-DL divorce was finalized. I am so happy I did. But it was looking like a total bust until the last moment.

I have a lot to cover in posts in regard to my visit including a few neat food spots in Charleston we visited as well as a harbor tour of Charleston but today I wanted to focus on THE event and the reason for the trip. As mentioned I booked the flights on Alaska points, I got the hotel on Hyatt points and the rental car on Chase Ultimate Rewards points. When all that is nearly free it frees up cash for other fun things (gosh I love points)!

Then there was where to go to look at the big event. I considered lots of spots but due to the forecast traffic nightmare I chose the Isle of Palms County Park just north of Charleston. For just $10 we had beach access and facilities and more. We had been warned they would close when they hit capacity so we departed early to make sure we got a spot. They did fill up and closed the gates shortly after 9AM.

I have to tell you things were not looking good. The clouds were thick almost all morning and as we neared the stellar event they were building even more and the radar, well, take a look for yourself with just over an hour to go!

This did not look promising. We even got a few sprinkles early on. I chatted with my wife if we should consider abandoning our position and moving inland that looked much more clear. We decided to stay put.

I did my best Randy Petersen “point” thing at the sun in hopes that the clouds and rain would go away and come another day.

It did not seem to help much but being and AVgeek at least I did get to look up and see a plane in the sky dragging some kind of big banner (is that really safe I ask you?)!

As the moon began to cover the sun the clouds had thinned a bit and there were pockets of blue around us. Could this really work out after all? As we neared totality look what happened:

Yep, a tiny patch of blue appeared right over us and as the area around us darkened we were treated to THIS:

Amazing! I have seen a number of partial eclipses in my life and was impressed but they are nothing, I mean nothing, like totality. I get why folks travel to see this and it was totally worth it and I would do it again (but not dozens of times like some).

While it was “dark” during totality it was not as dark as I had expected. Having grown up in Scandinavia and spent summer under that spectacular summer nights of almost endless sun I can tell you that the light was similar to 1AM when the sun is just below the horizon. Yes, it was dark but not pitch black as I had expected. Our sun is truly amazing.

Another amazing thing was just moments after totality there were claps of thunder in the distance due to the storms in the area. That made the event even more surreal and stunning to behold. What an event.

I do feel sorry for those inland who most of the day had clear skies but by the time of the event had the above that was still going strong by the time we got back to our hotel room.

I know my shots are nothing spectacular as they were just shots from my LG V20 phone but the event was for me and some quick shots worked for me. My fellow blogger Brian is a “real” photographer and you can read and see his review here and see some stunning photos.

I am so happy I did this. I have to admit I am thinking of Dallas in 2024 because, well, I love Dallas for so many reasons (Centurion club, BBQ etc.). If it works I will go but I don’t know if anything will ever top this one – it was just too darn special! Thank you points, you made all this happen for me. – René



  1. So happy you were able to join us in our magnificent city of Charleston for this big event. As I came back from Chicago, via Atlanta, on Saturday, I did notice the plane was full of “foreigners”!

  2. You’re absolutely right. There is nothing like totality and seeing it in person, at least once in your lifetime, is well worth it. I flew Delta to STL and drove to Carbondale IL to watch it at Southern Illinois University. It was awesome!

  3. I, too was on the Isle of Palms. Having been there several times before, I was also concerned about parking, as if you do not get parking on the island, you are rather SOL. I got a good spot on Front Beach and had rented beach chair and umbrellas for my family.

    As I crossed the IOP connector at 7:20 a.m. or so, there was a double rainbow to the west. And I am glad it was overcast for so long – the a hot South Carolina beach would have been brutal for 7 hours.

    And lest anyone doubt that the skies cleared just in time, I confirm it. It really happened that way.

  4. I say it again. I swear you told me meet you in Charleston, TN just kidding. The weather was immaculate and still in the path of totality though. We were about as far off the centerline as Charleston, SC. It truly was an unforgettable moment for my 4yo and I. Definitely thinking the whole family is in TX for the next one. But I’m curious if the points will live that much longer. That’s tongue n cheek kind of but my how things are different. At least you can count on the BBQ. Amen to that!

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