Friday, April 24, 2015

Seoul Airport is Great for Connections

Long layovers are a common occurance when traveling internationally, so I am always on the hunt for the best airports to connect.  In my opinion, Seoul, Korea just so happens to be a great choice.

With five hours to kill on my way from JFK to Hong Kong, I wasn't sure what to expect, but this little gem didn't disappoint.  The Asiana Business Class Lounge is roomy and stylish and has lots of little bells and whistles.  With massage chairs, showers and a nice food and drink presentation you can't help but be comfortable during your stay.  Not to mention the WiFi and baby grand piano, but the fun doesn't stop there.

The airport itself has a cultural center, live music and a great spa, in addition to all the shops you could ask for - Gucci, Prada and Burberry, to name a few.  

But the best feature, in my opinion, are the Free Korea Transit Tours. These tours range from one to five hours and take you by bus to local attractions.  The one hour tour brings you to Yonggungsa Temple.  The two hour tour visits the Incheon Temple.  Three hours gives you a Culture Tour or a City Tour and five hours offers a Seoul City Tour or Shopping Tour.  All for free and departing right from the airport terminal.  

The Asiana flight service is great and the business class seats are lie-flat beds.  The food was exceptional and the movie selection expansive.  My only critisism would be the cheap head phones they give you to use onboard.  I know I sound like a princess but it's such an easy fix and would give it that finishing touch.  Next month Asiana will introduce the A-380, so this is a great option for travelers heading to Asia.  Two thumbs up and a snap in my book.  :-)


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lindblad Expedition’s Galapagos: Expert and easy By: Ellen Goldman





Lindblad Expedition’s Galapagos:  Expert and easy

For many travelers, a trip to the Galapagos tops their bucket list.  However, concerns about accessibility and ease of travel sometime bring all consideration of actually going to a grinding halt. My husband and I had the privilege of taking a Lindblad Expeditions trip to the Galapagos on board the Endeavour.  Wow!  Easiest trip we have ever taken.  And, the animals blew me away.  (And that is coming from a non-pet person whose usual response to animals is “three kids and a husband are bad enough.”)



Let’s start with logistics.  We flew non-stop from JFK to Guayaquil.  We arrived early in the morning and were met at the airport by Lindblad representatives who shepherded us to the Hilton where our beds eagerly awaited us.  After a short snooze, we were briefed about departure time and pickup for the actual departure to the ship.  We were guided at every step of the trip, from airport to hotel to airport to ship, etc.   We had none of the usual trip concerns…who will pick us up, at what time, do we have to re-confirm, what if……..

Life on board the Endeavor was stress free.  Our staterooms were cleaned at least 3 times a day.  Nightly briefings and printed schedules ensured that guests were aware of all options and opportunities.  No need to dress at night; therefore, no need to pack dressy clothes. How fabulous was that!!!  Passengers were eager to engage with one another over drinks and meals.  We still correspond with one another.

But, when all is said and done, it is all about the animals.  Expert guides and zodiac operators made certain that we shared the maximal number of encounters with the most minimal amount of fuss.  I cannot overstate how thrilling it was to stand so close to sea lions, blue footed boobies and giant tortoises as if they were our best friends.  Our presence was irrelevant to the animals.  It puts us humans in our place…..


 

      
        





To plan your own Galapagos vacation contact Ellen Goldman at ellen@largaytravel.com or (203)757-9481. Ellen has been a dedicated travel advisor for over ten years.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Passport Validity is No Joke but Amazing Service Can Make All The Difference

As a travel advisor, it is my job to travel the world and learn about the places we recommend.  First hand experience is everything in our business, however, sometimes, the familiarization trips we take teach us what to do and what NOT to do as well.  Therefore, I am writing this blog a bit humbled and hoping to save others from what could have been, the trip that didn't take off.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a meticulous travel advisor.  Details are my life, but somehow, when it comes to my own personal travel, I just don't always pay attention.  So, when I planned our girls trip to Barcelona, Spain, I made sure that everyone's information was in order.......except of course my own daughter, Courtney.  It wasn't until the night before we left that we discovered that her passport was going to expire in 2 months. Spain requires that your passport must be valid at least 3 months past the departure date.  I called my office in a panic and on the advice of my colleague, Nancy Borzino, I printed the passport renewal applications and had it signed and notarized by Courtney's father, on the way to the airport.....just in case.  

Hoping and praying that they would not notice or make an exception, and with no other options, we went to the airport and tried to check-in.  The American Airlines ticket agent, Judith Riso, was incredibly sympathetic but advised me that Courtney was NOT going to Spain.   We begged, pleaded and even cried a little but Judith explained, in the nicest way possible, that they could be fined if she let us board the plane.  Judith suggested that we go immediately to the US passport office in NYC, about an hour from JFK airport and see if they could issue a new passport on the spot.  She said she would work on getting us moved to a later flight while we were gone.

It was 1215pm and the passport office closed at 3pm, but we had to try.  There were five of us traveling, so the three girls who had valid passports waited with Judith at the airport, while Courtney and I took our journey into the city.  The stress level was at an all time high but we were lucky, and they were able to give us an appointment to reissue the passport that same day.  

As Courtney and I waited for the passport to be issued, Judith worked diligently to get our flight for later that evening confirmed and kept our friends apprised of the situation.  She called us on our cell phone and calmed us down when we were ready to break but by 4pm, we were back in a taxi, on our way back to JFK with a brand new passport and an 8:30pm flight to Barcelona.  

Judith stayed at the counter well after her shift to make sure our tickets were reissued correctly and we were on our way and we thanked her profusely and hugged her as we headed for security.

This was BY FAR the most stressful time I have ever had with a trip and this could have been completely avoided had I done what I tell ALL my client to do......check your passport when you make the initial plans for your trip and MAKE SURE there is 6 months validity.

I guess with all my travels, I have become a bit complacent with my own travel, however, thank goodness for a great travel advisor's advice and the absolutely amazing women at American Airlines our trip was saved.

The trip has been great and this first hand experience of "what NOT to do" will stick with me forever.  I'm just glad that this information was learned by my own experience and not one of my clients.  Thanks Nancy and Judith for being amazing at your jobs and truly making a difference.......you are both truly wonderful.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Aulani :  "Distinctively Disney, Authentically Hawaiian"


A Disney hotel in Hawaii?  Sounds kind of crazy, but it's true!  A true Polynesian-style resort on the island of Oahu that keeps Hawaiian traditions alive & guests happy!

Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa carefully blends the Polynesian culture and imaginative Disney style to form a terrific experience for adults & kids!  This 360-room, 480 villa property sits on the Leeward coast of Oahu, on the Ko'Olina shore, and in my opinion has the best beach area on the entire island.  It's about a half hour ride from the Honolulu Airport (of course, depending on if you catch the traffic during rush hour from 3:30pm to 6:00pm).

Of course, not being in the Honolulu/Waikiki area of Oahu has it's pros & it's cons.  I loved the fact that you get a true sense of relaxation here and you  can enjoy an uncrowded beach experience, as well as have a very authentic Hawaiian experience.  But, you are away from the area where you can quickly take tours to the points of interest on the island.  Although you can certainly visit Pearl Harbor, or the Dole Plantation, or various other areas but you have to plan it ahead of time.  Aulani does offer a 'shopping shuttle' three times a week that brings guests to one of 3 locations for the day. (Aulani sits right next door to Paradise Cove Luau - about a 5 minute walk, as well as across the street from Ko' Olina Marketfor shopping & dining options.)

So Disney is all about story-telling, and of course Aulani is no exception!  With a wonderful 'cultural advisor' with a soft-spoken way of teaching guests about the history & traditions of Hawaii, and firepit story-telling nightly, family movie nights, Disney's 'Starlit Hui' show featuring local artisans, hula, live music & a dance party two times a week, guests can certainly find enough entertainment to keep their families busy.   On those rainy days that you might catch, the Pau Hana Community Hall offers arts & crafts, board games, and DVD rentals too!

Of course, one of the most fantastic areas of Aulani is the outdoor pools!  As if the beautiful beach wasn't enough to keep water-lovers happy, there are 3 amazing pools in which guests can find a comfortable spot just for themselves!  There's the zero-entry Waikolohe Pool, Ka Maka Grotto, and the adult's only Wailana Pool.  In addition, kids have a great interactive water play area, and the Waikolohe Stream Lazy River, two waterslides & 4 hot tubs!

And it wouldn't be 'Disney' if it didn't have a 'kids only' area as well!  Aunty's Beach House is reason enough for kids to never to want to leave Aulani!  This great 'cottage' is designed for the little ones, as well as the teens, and is complimentary to guests!   Disney's youth counselors entertain kids ages 3 to 12 with hula lessons, lei making, crafting, and anything else to keep them busy!
And of course, costumes for dress-up time included every princess & pirate outfit imaginable!
 The guest rooms are creatively and thoughtfully designed so that families can be comfortable and kids are taken care of during their visit.  Guest rooms have Pack'n Play playards, a fridge, iron & ironing board, all have balconies, great size closet & storage space, and free Wifi (as with all Disney hotels).

A great variety of dining venues are offered, from the family-friendly 'quick service' locations that Disney always has available (Lava Shack, Mama's Snack Stop, and Ulu Cafe (grab & go breakfast or lunch; i.e. $7 yogurt & granola, $11 croissant sandwich) to full dining service like the terrific Ama Ama, or Makahiki offering the great character breakfast, where Aunty has a beachside celebration with guests (about $40 per person)!  Get your cameras ready!
I loved the fact that each night there was music playing outside of the Olelo Room, where 'Sunset Happy Hour' gets guests together in a really festive environment.   And the property would not be complete without a poolside bar - Off the Hook!  Mixed drinks ranged from $9.75 to $12, not too bad!
Food & beverage service is also available beachside & poolside!  And with a 'master mixologist' in house, the bar staff is kept busy all day long!

Laniwai Spa has to be one of the most fantasic spas in all of the Hawaiian islands, and in North America!  Water, light & color was used in the design of the spa to create a nature-filled environment.  Guests that reserve a spa appointment will have a full-day's use of the outdoor hydrotherapy garden area (Kula Wai) the only one in all of Hawaii.   Disney never forgets about kids, so of course there is a fantastic 'teen spa' called 'Painted Sky' .... great way to introduce your teen to the 'spa world'.  The fitness center is complimentary to guests.  Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, Hawaiian-style' is available for your little princesses!  And the spa offers a mom/dad/baby experience too!

What I love about this resort is the fact that there are suttle 'touches' of Disney infused with traditional Hawaiian culture, and their phrase 'Distinctively Disney, Authentically Hawaiian' really sums it all up.  I cannot imagine planning a vacation to Hawaii with a family and NOT making Aulani one of the stops on the itinerary!
Suttle 'touch' of the 'Magic of Disney
Visited property October 21 - 26, 2014
For more information contact Vira Mastroianni at vira@largaytravel.com or 888-632-2660.vira@largaytravel.com

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Four Seasons at WDW



Fours Seasons at WDW - No Need To Leave! (Nov. 2014) 

What a great addition to Walt Disney World hotel properties!!  This fabulous resort gives new dimension to luxury hotels in Orlando that are available onsite at Walt Disney World in Florida! Having opened just a few months before I visited, it still is going through some 'growing pains' but it's understandable!  The Four Seasons at WDW is terrific for the guest that is looking for balance between a fun-filled vacation for their family, along with a luxurious resort to kick back and forget about all the hustle-bustle of the 'most magical place on Earth'!

The ride from the airport was about 25 minutes, exactly what was expected since it's inside the gates of Disney.  The cost for a luxurious sedan (MEARS) with tax & tip was $85 one way;  Four Seasons partners with Mears for all transportation between the resort & everywhere that guests need to be. The drivers can be quickly & easily arranged at a moment's notice.  The cost of the vehicle will be added to guest's room account.  The driver will meet guests at the baggage claim area, and quickly bring guests to the resort.  (Guests cannot utilize the Magical Express Transportation service).

Great colors!
Closet
The guest rooms at the Four Seasons are all the same;  the view is what will vary.  The rooms are beautifully designed;  honestly, it's not a big deal to have a 'Park View' room, in my opinion.  The park is SO FAR away, that viewing the fireworks going off at the Magic Kingdom is not a big deal.  The rooms are FANTASTIC - beautiful furniture, very soft & inviting colors, VERY technologically advanced (all come with tablets to arrange your stay, and to control room functions), bathrooms that are the size of a small hotel room (GREAT water pressure), the TV is set up to work as an information center, water is stocked daily in the room as well as refills on Nespresso coffee pods, Bose sound  system, plush bathrobes.  The hallways are great in that there is a little 'cubby' area that leads into 2 guest rooms (makes it great for maid service with their carts, to keep them out of sight & out of the way).  Very smart design!

The most fantastic area of the hotel is the outdoors!  There really is no reason to want to leave the Four Seasons!  With an 'adults only' pool area & sanctuary (called "Oasis Pool"), a kids area with a 'splash zone' and an activity center which has pool tables, kids & teens club, and beautifully landscaped grounds, it makes for a location that will please adults & kids alike.
The use of the kids areas, the splash zone, and the activity center is offered without charge.  There are cabanas for rental at the adults only pool area.  (As of November 2014 there was no charge; the charges will be $200 to $400 for the day, based on the time of year.)  The cabanas have meal & beverage service, there is a fridge & storage for personal items, has 2 sun beds in front of the cabana, and a nice, cozy sofa area under the shade.  Very, very attentive service!
 There are endless areas to escape, and to take a stroll, and to cool off from the beautiful sunshine of Central Florida!  Four Seasons is so smart to have added throughout the pool areas refreshment stands that have ice cold lemon water, aloe, body lotion & sun screen (for those of us that always forget those items).  It's a nice touch, and took me by surprise!  Another nice touch for the sun-lovers taking advantage of the outdoors - nice refreshing healthy treats through the day from the pool attendants!

The kids 'splash zone' has been designed to make it uber-friendly for parents watching their kids while they're playing!  With sun beds (and shade) all around, very comfortable seating, even for nap-time!  Kids will not be disappointed!  The design of this area is extremely focused on making everyone happy, not just the kids!


As far as the food is concerned, there are many, many options throughout the day.  Four Seasons offers a fantastic breakfast buffet, with indoor & outdoor seating ( a Virtuoso amenity valued at $40 per person).  The breakfast has the typical fresh fruits, parfaits, meats, breads, all types of jellies, jams, Nutella, peanut butter, etc., omelettes, eggs, sausage & bacon, waffles, pancakes, French toast, etc.  No lack of food for breakfast!

There is a coffee shop that sits off the hallway leading from guest elevators to the lobby, serving fresh espresso and gelato, and some quick lunch options.   PB&G offers lunch & dinner service, drink service for the pool area.  Cocktails were around $12, beer $7 or $8, appetizers $8 to $12 and burgers & sandwiches around $20.  Not too bad for a Four Seasons.....

The one thing I would caution about is in regards to getting to & from the parks.  Even though FS is on WDW grounds, for the guest that is looking for complete convenience TO/FROM the parks, it's not the place to be.  Although the location is in good proximity to the parks, it is still a bit of an effort.  The Disney buses do not operate to & from the Four Seasons; Four Seasons has a shuttle service that is offered every 1/2 hour to the Magic Kingdom, and every hour to the other 3 parks (not to Downtown Disney, or the Water parks).  If a guest is going to the Magic Kingdom, the bus will drop off at the Transportation Center, and then they either take a ferry over to the bus lots and then walk into the park, or they take the monorail that will bring them to the park.  If the guests are going to Epcot it drops off at the Monorail, and then they walk into the park; and if they are going to Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom, it will drop off at the entrance to those parks.  The other option is to rent a car, which may make it a bit easier.  Of course, guests can also rely on the taxi service that Four Seasons can arrange with Mears.





Visually, this hotel is magnificent!  The lobby, the ballroom, the staircases, the hallways - everything is super-clean, super-fresh, extremely beautiful.
The Four Season Orlando at Walt Disney World will not disappoint!






Visited November 15 - 17, 2014
For more information contact Vira Mastroianni at vira@largaytravel.com or 888-632-2660.




Monday, November 24, 2014

Travel Advising with Cultural Tolerance and Understanding in the Middle East


When I received my invitation to attend the 2014 Virtuoso Chairman's Event in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I was thrilled.  The United Arab Emirates has been an up and coming destination that has become more and more popular in recent years.  However, as I planned for my trip and spoke to friends and family about my journey, the response was less than favorable.  Many people replied, "Wow, aren't  you afraid", "Don't you think it's a scary time to be in the Middle East" and "Please be careful" were some of many phrases I heard.  Having sent many travelers to the UAE in recent years, I wasn't concerned about safety in the least bit, but was curious how I would feel about the culture and way of life.  You see, like many people in the US, I have always looked at the Islamic way of life with curiosity and concern.  The news has been no help and I have to admit that I have always secretly stared at the covered women and felt an urge to tear off their head coverings and set them free from, what I perceived to be, a life of silent suffering.  I couldn't comprehend walking around covered from head to toe in the heat of the day, staring at the world from a one inch slit.

When we arrived in Dubai for our week of discovery, of course, I was immediately surrounded by the local attire and culture.   As my curiosity began to peak, I was incredibly pleased that our first stop was The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in the historical Al Fahidi District.  Our visit was an Emirate lunch of traditional dishes of chicken, rice, lentils and goat.  The aroma was intoxicating and the display of food that lay on carpets on the floor was like a work of art.   Sitting on pillows on the floor, you could feel a sense of truly being in the Middle East.  

Sampling the local cuisine
The program was an open forum about the culture and Islamic religion.  Their slogan is "Open Doors, Open Minds" and our speaker was a combination of teacher and comedian, which immediately made everyone feel comfortable and free to ask questions.  After a brief discussion on history and their way of life, the questions began to flow.  Of course, one of the first questions was about the abaya and sheila, known to most Americans as the dreaded "burka".  "Why would the women choose to wear such dreadful dark coverings in the heat of the day?"  "Are the men forcing them to do so?" were some of the first questions out of the gate.  Our lecturer described the history, the culture and the beliefs behind this tradition, which has been alive for centuries in this area of the world.  Certainly, being a Westerner, I could not comprehend wearing this type of attire, however, it quickly became clear to me that the women wearing these  coverings were looking at me and saying the exact same thing about my capris and shirt. Of course they were a lot less obvious than many of the tourists who glared at them with pity and curiosity, but still, they had a similar curiosity about us.  I began to realize that this was their upbringing, what they knew and their own way of life that was passed down over many generations, similar to the Levis and sneakers that we were brought up to adorn. 

Great discussion about UAE
We spoke about the Islamic religion, the Koran and the different levels of commitment to prayer.  We discussed violence and extremism and how this behavior was such an incredibly small number of people out of one of the largest religions in the world.   The most significant part of this discussion was the fact that we spoke openly and were allowed to break down the barriers that divide us as human beings.  This was the perfect way to begin our journey through the UAE and I couldn't have been happier.  The fears, the ignorance and misconceptions were washed away, which allowed us to travel through the country feeling comfortable asking questions that we may not have previously asked. 

Trying out the local attire
As our journey continued throughout Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two of the seven Emirates, I was able to speak to the local women and men.  Their warmth and openness, and English, was amazing and I felt so fortunate to gain a greater understanding of their way of life.  Throughout the trip I felt safe and comfortable, as crime is almost non-existent in the United Arab Emirates and I began to refer to this area as "The Travelers Middle East Starter Kit".  The culture in this country and level of service was unbelievable and make Dubai and Abu Dhabi the perfect destination for someone who wants something exotic in a very comfortable and controlled environment. 
As a travel advisor, I feel it is so important to visit destinations and understand the cultures that exist without judgment or prejudice.  I certainly may not agree with everything that exists but I believe that taking the time to learn about the culture and society allows me to be a better person.  This journey did just that and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have had this amazing opportunity.  

I'll be back Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and until then, I will send my clients to experience all that you have to offer.

by Amanda Klimak CTIE
amanda@largaytravel.com




Monday, October 27, 2014

Culture & Beauty in India: Relaxation & Reflection

Bill Lynch, a Largay Travel advisor, recently spent 10 days in India to learn more about meditation and the culture. Upon his return Bill stated, “It was a lesson in being humble...you have compassion for people that don’t have a lot. Being caring, compassionate, and humble within oneself are some core practices of mediation". 

Lynch attended the Vipassana Meditation Center in Massachusetts where he meditated for 10 days straight two years ago. After the program, Lynch got interested in teaching it. He met with Julie Wallace, the owner of Bloom Yoga in Southington, CT, and asked to start a class. He’s now been teaching there twice a week for the past year.

Here's Bill's list of the Top 5 places to visit in India...


1. New Delhi, Jama Masjid: India’s largest Mosque, which was built in 1656 by Emperor Shah Jahan and took six years and 5,000 workers to construct. In New Delhi you can also see the impressive India Gate, the President’s house and other government buildings.


2. Agra, Taj Mahal: This amazing structure was built as a tribute to the queen of Emperor Shah Jehan and is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s beauty is shown as the sun rises and sets, giving off many colors.


3. Jaipur, The Amber Fort: This area took over two centuries to build and is still standing today! It is a complex collection of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens, and temples.







4.  Dera Amer, Elephant Safari: An exciting adventure that takes place within the Elephant’s own habitat along the Aravali Range and the reserved forest. It is also possible you will encounter other animals such as wolves or hyenas on this adventure.




5. Mumbi: There are so many great things to see here I couldn't pick just one. First, there is the Gateway to India, which was the way travelers got to the Indian shores during the heyday of the British Raj. It also became the exit point of the British troops after India gained independence in 1947. There is also Crawford Market, which holds vendors of all kinds selling fresh produce, flowers, fish and exotic birds. And, the famous railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is enclosed in the Victoria Terminus building. This is now the busy headquarters of the Central Railway where over 1,000 trains and two million passengers pass through the station daily. 



















For more information and to book adventures in India, contact Bill Lynch at bill@largaytravel.com or call 1-888-632-2660. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours - Finding the Meaning of It All

Denise & Amanda on Lake Granby, Colorado
As we boarded the pontoon boat on Lake Granby, CO to distribute my father’s ashes on the island he requested in the Rocky Mountains at the headwaters of the Colorado River it started to become clear to us why we were really here.  I truly believe my father’s decision to place his ashes here were not as much about being there himself, as it was about getting his two daughters back to the Rocky Mountain one more time. 


 You see, our family lives in the Rockies and as children, we visited every year and it was always a huge part of our life.  As adults, however,  my sister and I just didn’t go as much.  Even without his daughters, my dad always made time to visit and Aunt Jeannette and cousins Robert and Lisa, always loved his visits.  The last trip he took was with them to Yellowstone National Park.  I truly believe that was why we were there and why he chose this spot for his ashes…….so Denise and I could remember how much we loved to visit our family and the Colorado Rockies.


One of Captain Bob's Final Resting Places

So, as we cruised across the placid lake, landed on the island while being stalked by a pair of osprey that had made their home on the island, and laid my father to rest by his parents at the top of the island by the rock, shaped like a headstone, we committed to return to this amazing place.  A place where the headwaters of the Colorado River begin, a  place that we explored as children and learned about the world and a place that my dad will forever call home.






Of course the remainder of our trip was not without lots of mishaps, reminiscing and cheesy sightseeing stops.  While traveling, we made sure to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, so we could balance on top of the Continental Divide.  Hours of game viewing, even though the biggest game we saw was a chipmonk and a field mouse.  A stop for a geocache  at the Kauffman House Museum and of course, a stop at Buffalo Bill’s Grave Site because who can resist a highway sign advertising what is sure to be amazing!


Dividing myself up at The Divide
A visit to Buffalo Bill's Grave Site
     

My last thought is this…….as I lay on the top bunk of our bunk beds and joked about how I was laying in bed with my hands on the ceiling, I couldn't help but feel how much my dad would have loved this. The crisp mountain air, the laugh of his girls as we joked about our childhood and lots and lots of stops at ALL of the tourist hot spots.  


For now we will journey home with lots of new tales and memories for our loved ones and maybe even a fish tale or two. Then two weeks from now, we will be departing again on the last Mis-Guided Tour to the Florida Keys. I’m sure having Tristan, Courtney and Suzanne along on this next journey will only add to the adventure.

We love you dad and will continue the journies of Captain Bob’s Mis-Guided Tours

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Arrival of Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours

When my sister, Denise, and I realized that our dad had set us up for the ultimate Thelma and Louise adventure, we were already in too deep.  We were sitting on the plane on our way to Colorado to place his ashes on an island in a lake in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.   We were reminiscing about the crazy times of our nomadic childhood.  It wasn't the stories themselves that were all too funny, it was the varying perspective that each of us had as we remembered those times.

I would like to share some of the stories that truly stood out for the both of us.  I'm not sure if you will find them as amusing as we did but I hope you will be entertained non the less.

There was the time we enjoyed a week at the Hidden Valley Dude Ranch near Lake George.  We tried every activity, as it was imperative that we tried everything just once.  We were having a blast until it was time for archery, when my dad picked up a cracked arrow and proceeded to shot it directly threw his hand.  He didn't scream or cry like most normal, rational human beings might but advised us calmly that we needed to take a trip to the hospital to remove the arrow.  When we went to the lobby to ask them to call for an ambulance and my dad stood with the wood of the arrow out one end of his hand and feathers out the other and an attorney standing nearby us said, "I'll drive you to the hospital" and proceeded to hand him a business card.  Of course my father wouldn't dream of suing anyone, as that just wasn't the right thing to do in his mind but instead wrapped his heavily bandaged hand in plastic bags with duct tape so he could still participate in the greased watermelon contest in the swimming pool the next day.  Nothing would stop Captain Bob from making sure his family had a good time.

Another time that we were all body surfing at the beach in Wild Wood, New Jersey and my mom gets hit by an enormous wave which proceeds to take the top to her bikini bathing suite out to sea.  Of course my mom has no idea she was flashing the world and stood up to look for her family.  My dad spots this from about 200 feet away and is trying to wave her down to tell her what has happened  but the noise of the waves were just too loud, so she proceeds to wave back joyously as everyone from the beach applauded.

One of our favorite stories was the time that my sister Denise had received a brand new beautiful coat for Easter.  Captain Bob decides it would be great to take a unplanned spin to the Trexler Game Park to enjoy the animals.  It' wasn't until my sister started to screech when we noticed that she was pinned up to the fence of the camel area because the camel had began to eat her new coat while she was wearing it.  Fortunately or unfortunately her arms didn't come out of the sleeves so we didn't loose the whole coat, however, when we pulled it out of the camels mouth and it was covered in green slime, she vowed never to where the coat again.

There were many more great stories that I'm sure we will choose to share but the greatest joke of all was on us as we checked into our great hotel.  It wasn't the fact that the room was the size of a postage stamp with bunk beds,

the fact that we could hear the band playing in town about a mile away because the walls were so thin in our cabin or the fact that the neighbors were so close that we felt like we were in summer camp.  It was the fact that someone built a cabin on the side of a mountain with an amazing view and didn't have the brains to put a window in the room so you could see it.


What's wrong with this picture.

Tonight we had a great dinner at my dad's favorite restaurant, The Rapids
and tomorrow we will take our pontoon boat out onto the lake to put half of my dad's ashes to rest.  We will see what the day brings us but either way we know, that it will contain lots of laughs and lots of good memories.

Have a great night and here is the quote of the day.
"I'm gonna call the front desk and ask if they have horseback riding..........oh wait........there's no freakin phone in this walk in closet.  What the heck?"

Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours....The Final Chapter

Today, my sister Denise and I will depart on a journey affectionately known as, "Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tour, The Final Chapter".  This is a trip like no other, for it's not a business trip, it's not a vacation, it's an adventure where Denise and I will distribute my father's ashes in his final resting place on an island on Lake Granby in the Colorado Rockies where my grandparents are buried and on a flat in the Florida Keys where my dad fished on a regular basis.  These were his requests, his special places and this is what we will do.

My father, Bob Quier, also know as Captain Bob, passed away suddenly last October of a massive heart attack at the age of 70.  He died in the fashion in which he lived; with a smile on his face, surrounded by friends and doing something he loved.  He was at a Giants / Eagles game in Philadelphia with his best friends Jim and Jane Joyce and their son Christopher, which he attended every year with them.  It was a game of taunting and fun and although he passed away before the game began, his beloved Giants won the game as he watched from heaven.  I can still hear him now cheering Giants, Giants, Giants for Jim's enjoyment. :-P It was a fitting passing for my father, as he never wanted to be sick or be cared for or "have his diaper by his daughters" when he got old, which he often told us.  We were devastated by the loss, but felt fortunate that he lived 70 healthy years and was fishing on his boat just the day before.  We felt lucky he made it to 70, for at age 56, he had become the longest living male in recorded history in our family due to a history of heart disease.  It's taken almost a year for my sister and I to arrange this trip and coordinate our schedules, but today we depart on what is sure to be one of Captain Bob's BEST Mis-Guided Tours.

Now you may be wondering how the name "Mis-Guided Tours" came about.  Well, growing up with Captain Bob was never dull.  It was a well deserved name for the adventures he planned and journeys we took as a family.  You see, we were a family of adventurers, but not to destinations like the plains of Africa or the tundra of the Arctic.  We were adventurers of Americana and the world of the "tourist trap".  The Chevy Chase movie "Vacation" had nothing on our family and a trip to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine was no stranger to us.  We often piled into our car to take last minute trips to Wildwood in New Jersey, Lake George in the Adirondacks and Mount Washington in Vermont to ride the Cog Railroad.  Distance and the length of the car ride were never a problem, as long as you went pee before entering the car because two rules always existed....... you NEVER asked for directions, no matter how lost you are, and you NEVER EVER stopped to use the bathroom.  We often referred to longer journeys to Florida and Colorado as "The Death March", since my dad insisted on driving through the night and only stopping once we begged for hours, unless of course a billboard told us of the largest snake in the world or a sea lion show was being offered.

There was always a mishap and a story to be told of , a hotel that should have been condemned by the health department twenty years prior and a diner for gourmet grub to be savored.  Every journey included two things;  the adventure of an unplanned stop and lots and lots of laughs.  Whether it was a llama eating my sisters brand new coat at the game preserve or my mom flipping a boat trailer in the middle of the interstate, we had the time of our lives from the inside of our car.

So today, my sister and I will depart on our journey of two.  We will reminisce of a simpler time and I will write down the memories for my kids to enjoy.  We will visit with relatives and boat out to the island where my grandparents lay and say goodbye to half of my fathers remains.  We will sleep in bunk beds because the five star hotel was sold out and only a lodge was available and we will remember the simpler days of our childhood.  I hope you join us on our adventure, as we travel across America to take the last Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tour.

by Amanda Klimak
www.virtuoso.com/advisor/amandaklimak