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10/08/2018 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Good to Know Meeting
12/10/2018 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Good to Know Meeting
In case you noticed the Cherokee Hard Rock Casino van cruising the streets of northeast Oklahoma one day last week, I have details. No, you didn’t miss the casino trip; it was just me and several of my peers from Green Country Marketing on an educational trip. I was asked to present a tourism workshop and since I like to take my “show on the road” the invitation invited those in hospitality-type businesses to come and “Treasure Hunt” with me. I wore my favorite pirate attire and we discussed and shared great ideas which are very valuable in this crazy business.
I talked about group tours and how groups have changed over the last couple of decades. Sometimes businesses, whether a restaurant or a hotel, overlook obvious deal breakers like motor coach parking and adequate restroom facilities. I’ve been honored to do presentations many times on this topic, I’ve even traveled to other states to speak on why “the bus won’t stop here.”
We explored ways to share and combine destinations. It’s interesting that people get a bit tunnel vision and can’t see a way to cooperate with fellow businesses.
Wow! Can you believe it?!? Back on Sept. 22 Fall began for the year 2017. What happened? It seems only a month or two ago that husband Doug & I were enjoying our trip to Thailand and Vietnam. Only a few weeks ago that the Good to Go Gang was enjoying a cruise to Germany, Denmark and other countries once roamed and conquered by the Vikings. Now… football season is about half over and we are seeing Christmas decorations popping up in stores all over our nation.
You know what that means if you’ve read the Cherokee Tourism billboards around the state, and in case you haven’t it means “Hello” in Cherokee. My family has always been proud of our Native American blood. We are card-carrying Indians, from my paternal grandfather’s Dawes Roll Number. When the American government did an Indian population census, my grandfather was alive and was entered onto the roll books as a Cherokee. Since our family can trace that lineage, we have the benefits that the tribe offers its members. My sister and I grew up in a family where some had dark skin, some didn’t. Some were talkers, some were very quiet. We were a clan, and I really never thought about “being” an Indian. There were kids in our classes that were much darker and quieter, and they seemed to me to be more “Indian-like”, whatever that means.
I wish I knew how to speak Spanish. Heck, I wish I could speak any foreign language but, after being in Mexico for the last week, especially Spanish. I was volunteering at the Medical Missions Hospital, a small place in the vast mountainside of the Sierra Mountains. The hospital offers health care to local Mexican families with special attention for the indigenous Tarahumara Indians that live in remote “villages” (a few huts) in the mountains.
The people that live here continue life as it has been for centuries for their culture. Dirt floors, tin roofs, no running water and small fields of corn and beans to live on year to year. There world probably wouldn’t know they even existed except the hikers that find them or a catastrophe that brings them down to the rural towns. I had the chance to help return a woman mother and her young child back to their village. The baby had been to the missionary hospital for surgery on his club feet. He was put in straightening casts and ready to go home until the next procedure. The four of us are going home in a two-seater Carbon Cub plane.
As you may remember, our trip earlier this year to explore Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, ended with the final country of Vietnam. As we were preparing for the trip, this part of the visit got mixed reviews on whether there would be interest in a tour. Some veterans would like a return trip to “see”; others didn’t want to return. Other travelers are always interested in seeing another country. There was a variety of opinions shared with me.
To be honest, Vietnam was background noise for my childhood years. I had some older, distant cousins involved, but I didn’t know much about them. I didn’t understand what was going on with the USA and some place called Vietnam, but I was too young to ask. A news story would come on our black and white television and it would provoke a worrisome hum from my mom. We were safe in Oklahoma.
Our tour to the south was blown off the calendar by Hurricane Irma, so I took the opportunity to still travel. South. To the Sierra Mountains. In Mexico. The area I'm visiting reminds me of parts of Colorado. We have traveled high up into pines, and cliff shears and I even spotted a few groves of aspens. We are somewhere along the Copper Canyon. The canyon is bigger than the Grand Canyon, but one probably couldn't locate the tiny towns on a map. The undeveloped natural beauty extends as far as the eye can see. There are no souvenir stores, visitor’s centers, or billboards to promote the scenery. There are no tour buses, or funiculars to help ascend the heights.
I am proud to be a Rotarian. Actually, I’m an honorary Rotarian thanks to Bob Daggett and the late Jack Moseley. I loosely hold the office of song leader, which means when I am in town and attending the Wednesday Grove Rotary Meeting, the groans can be heard throughout the building since it means the club will have to sing. I have been happy to speak at the Miami Rotary Club meeting, and as I recall I offered to lead them in a tune. I love the things that the Rotary organization stands for and all that our local clubs do for our communities.
What does this have to do with traveling? When we are on the road with our group, it seems we enjoy taking pictures of Rotary sponsored projects we see whether it’s a park bench or a medical facility, we try to pose by it. Zig and I crashed a meeting in Tortola when we saw a sign “Rotary Meets Here”.
This crazy, unpredictable travel business that we love has so many moving parts. And as my mother would say, “Someone threw a monkey wrench into our plans.” I’m not really sure why the poor, old monkey wrench gets blamed, but this time it was a big wrench and the someone was Irma.
We were booked and Good to Go to the Golden Isles. The motorcoach was to depart last Friday on September 15. Then Hurricane Irma cast her ugly eye on the coasts of Georgia and Florida, where we were headed. We all watched in horror as the storm changed paths, conditions sometimes improved and sometimes worsened. It didn’t make sense to cancel the tour until we knew exactly the situation. We too, rode out the storm.
The Good to Go gang is cruising the Baltic Sea. We are making ports of call in countries that experience long days and then longer nights, depending on the time of year. We’ve enjoyed guided panoramic tours that give us an overview of wonderful, historic cities. The information that comes our way is kind of like candy at a Christmas parade, you grab what you can, chew on it a while and are OK that you couldn’t pick up everything.
We took a walking tour through Tallinn, Estonia. We walked cobblestone streets were a medieval watch tower is across the street from a Circle K convenience store. We overlooked a grassy area where history was changed in 1988. Citizens rose up, stood up and sang up. Literally. 300,000 people sang against Soviet rule, the Singing Revolution was waged and won, without a drop of blood being lost. Isn’t that something? They still have a singing festival in July to commemorate.