When The Experience Is Way Better Than The Hype

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Marketing the Moon  |  Fanocracy

Eclipse viewingYes, all the hype about a total eclipse of the sun is accurate. It’s been a bit more than 24 hours and I’m still processing my experience, but here are some thoughts.

Boy had I been waiting a long time for this. Regular readers know I am a moon enthusiast. I have a lunar museum in my home, and I wrote a book called Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program. I’ve had significant conversations with more than half of the men who walked on the moon. I’ve seen a total lunar eclipse and several partial solar eclipses, but never a total solar eclipse.

I've always wanted to experience a total solar eclipse and the opportunity finally arrived.

I had heard a lot about the three minutes of totality, and we certainly got the full treatment yesterday afternoon:

I experienced darkness during the day, a few stars peeking through, views of a solar flare, a freaked-out dog barking, spontaneous applause, gasps, shouts, sudden cold, even a few people weeping. It’s an experience so extraordinary as to be almost fake.

Stowe, VT was always a risky bet for weather. Smart money would have traveled somewhere with more predictable weather, like Texas. But I went with karma – I love Vermont and camp and hike in the state often. So, I booked a room on the first day the hotel’s reservation system would allow, 364 days before syzygy, the near-perfect alignment of the Moon moving between the Sun and the Earth, nature's show in northern New England.

Where to watch?

end is nighWe had the location and the hotel. We made it to Northern Vermont. But what I hadn’t considered was where, exactly, to hang out to view the spectacle?  There were so many options, some from enterprising entrepreneurs.

There was a party at The Alchemist Brewery, next door to our hotel. Stowe Mountain Resort was hosting a party too and so were some hotels. But we decided we didn’t want to drink and be around loud partiers.

All afternoon the day before the eclipse we considered the best spot. After an afternoon of searching, we chose a huge field near Thompson Park with a view of Mt. Mansfield, about eight miles away. On the big day, we arrived about four hours early to get a parking spot and were lucky to be one of the last of about 50 cars in the lot. The only people at our fabulous location either arrived super early like us or walked at least a mile to get there.

The buildup to totality

IMG_6696Because “our field” wasn’t an obvious choice and required planning, each of the 100 or so people we shared the experience with was an eclipse enthusiast.

I hadn’t expected how important the comradery with those around us was for the experience. There was the physics professor from Ithaca and his daughter who traveled through the night and slept in their Subaru. The high school boy with a killer telescope. Two guys from New York City filming with a vintage Super 8 movie camera. A Yale astrophysicist with “a shitty telescope, really an awful thing, only $200 bucks from China, but perfect for an eclipse”.

After waiting together for hours, we were one big happy family, sharing binoculars and telescopes, musing on the weather in other parts of the eclipse path, getting pointers from those who had experienced totality before, learning a little about each other.

Oh, and there was a wedding. Right there in the field just before the eclipse began.

And then the big moment came. It was way better than I had read about and much more profound than everyone had described.

It was a perfect day.

I’ve had many exciting and interesting and memorable adventures in my life.

This was the tippy-top. 

New Call-to-action