There are few surprises left in the world, do you agree? Those of us old enough to remember Santa Claus picking out our gifts without a wish list on Amazon may be the last generation to really appreciate a surprise. Wedding gifts are registered if not gift carded. I miss the days of a young bride acting excited over floral pot holders and Tupperware. Parents don’t even get to be surprised with the “It’s a boy/girl!” announcement. The baby has already worn out its name by the time it debuts.
Alas, as Your Fearless Leader, I find one of my greater tasks and treats is to offer travelers an occasional mystery or surprise trip.
What’s on your list of places that you’d like to visit, or things you’d like to see? Most of us, with a bit of wanderlust in our souls, can recite the places that we long to experience firsthand. We have magazine pages torn and saved or Pinterest Boards of destinations of our “some days.”
Your Fearless Leader was probably inspired to travel by my Aunt Virginia. I still have the little Hawaiian drum she brought me from the island. She also brought sister and I necklaces made from seeds. She mailed postcards from National Parks that I stared at and told myself “Someday , I will see that with my own eyes.” Another place Auntie “V” attended was the
If confession is good for the soul, I need to confess. I claim to be Good to Go, but alas, before our tour to Tuscany, I almost wasn’t. But God looks after dumb dumbs, and he assigned extra saints and angels to keep me going. Please allow me to explain.
I lost my passport. That’s right. I. Lost. My. Passport… One of my most prized possessions, the thing my family knows to grab for me in case of an exodus, the thing this Fearless Leader preaches that should be protected even more than money, well, I kinda lost mine. A weak excuse is that I have moved and my “packing routine” has been messed up. You might remind me that I did travel to Asia for three weeks, wasn’t that a passport trip? And you would be correct.
Memorial weekend is in the rearview mirror, and hopefully there were memories recalled and memories made. I spent the weekend in Branson with the much-older-sister, and we gifted ourselves with a slower pace and no pressing plans.
Our first stop was a visit to Cayuga Cemetery to
We were “Under the Tuscan Sun” when NE Oklahoma started to go under water. Our Good to Go travelers took in the sights on our recent visit to Italy. We mingled with the locals as we traveled streets that have been in place since Roman times. Montecatini bubbled with fountains and Italian beauty as we jumped out of jet lag mode and began explore. We took a day trip to Florence. In the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, this Renaissance city is captioned with this quote:
Think about a summer job you had when you were in college. Would you want to do this job again, if you had the chance? This job might have been something like 35 years ago, but wouldn’t it be fun to go do it again? I’m going to get that chance. Well, my alter-ego, Willamae, is getting that chance.
My character of Willamae was created one summer that I worked at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. I was hired to perform in the saloon show and I loved every minute of that job. As a saloon girl, I sang, I danced, I served cokes and peanuts, I sold garters off my leg, and made memories with folks from everywhere that came to Branson to enjoy a vacation. I was employed by a wonderful family owned theme park that specialized in good clean fun. It was a dream come true. I had visited SDC as a nine-year-old girl and said “Someday, I’m going to work here.” And I did.
We are on an adventure "Under the Tuscan Sun & Swiss Alps," doesn't that just sound lovely? We have explored the art of wine making in San Gimignano. The love of the craft, its history, its inspiration spills over into our hostess's passionate comments.
They still produce great, great, great grandfather's wine recipe. They speak about the wines as if they are relatives, describing their personalities and compatibilities. Did you know that the pressed grape skins are what is used to make Grappa, the potent elixir that most Italians end their meals?
I was a college teacher before I was a group travel leader. I was a teacher, which meant books, syllabuses, evaluations, teacher’s guides, you know… all that academic stuff. Suddenly I found myself in a very niche travel market, and honestly, I didn’t have a clue where to start. I scoured the library for text books. I looked for a course at the Vo-Tech, you know, Group Travel 101. I gleaned brochures for a short course. I asked people in the business for advice. I just knew there had to be something out there. Of course, all the time I’m hunting, I’m doing.
Our trip 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.
As I got a bit older,