Friday, February 22, 2008

My bright idea ...

Okay, so I think I've come up with a topic for my seven to eight minute presentation on my interview tour of the Northwest. After much soul-searching, I've decided to talk about the Oregon Trail. You may think, "Wow, how deep." I assure you it can be.

First, I'm not talking about myself. Second, I can prove that I can be articulate on a subject that's relevant to the tour. Third, it ties into my hometown. (For those of you that don't know, the Oregon trail started in Independence, Mo.) The angle I plan to take I'm unsure of at the moment, but I thought I would try to dig up a fun story to include.

I'm also planning on heading to the Three Trails Museum in Independence this weekend for a bit of research. Another tidbit of information is that the Santa Fe and California trails also began in the Kansas City area. What else would you expect from a tour guide?!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Needing Help

Next week I'm off for a familiariztion/second interview tour with a national tour company in the Pacific Northwest. I recently received the itenerary. We fly into Portland, travel up to Vancouver and end in Seattle. It's four days of touring and two days of traveling to and from Kansas City.

I need your help ... On the second day I'm to present on a topic of my choice. This leaves a lot of wiggle room, so I would love to hear any suggestions. Help me get my creative juices flowing!

Thank you!

Friday, February 15, 2008

FAO Schwarz

Here I am in New York City. I stood by this guy to get a photo, then he popped this pose at the last minute. Very fun!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back from Broadway

I have to say this was a very interesting few days in NYC. I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity to shadow a student tour before doing it on my own because I would have otherwise been a nervous wreck. The tour also helped me gain my since of direction in the city once more. I'll do a quick overview for you.

Day one
1:15 p.m. arrive at airport

1:40 found the tour director I was shadowing

2:00 Begin to panic because the coach wasn't at the airport to pick up the kids

2:30 Wait at International Departures for the coach (just like the driver said)

3:00 Tour director starts to panic because there's still no bus to be found and the driver says he's there

3:05 Annie (my other shadow partner) runs to the top of the enormous hill to find the bus)

3:10 Kids arrive from Wales and are ready to tour - still no bus

3:15 Annie calls and says the bus is waiting at DOMESTIC arrivals - we begin trek up the hill


After we get everyone loaded, we head into the city to hit the Empire State Building. Annie and I were in charge of going up to the top and gathering up the kids. It took forever to get them out of the photo stop. Then we treked to the Manhattan Mall for a bite at the food court. When writing this, it all seems very easy, but at the time it was high stress walking around with 36 kids and three group leaders in rush hour traffic.

9 p.m. Arrive at Rochelle Park, NJ, Ramada

Day Two
9:30 a.m. Arrive in NYC for a business tour of Macy's at Harold Square

11:35 Begin drive up to Rockefeller Center area for lunch at 30 Rock's concourse

12:40 meeting time to start walking tour/Rockefeller Ctr tour

12:50 arrival time of group for start of walking tour/Rockefeller Ctr tour

1:00 Annie and I lead half the group on a 5th Ave walking tour while the other half goes on the Rockefeller Ctr tour. We stop at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trump Tower, FAO Shwarz, Gap and at a street performance. (One of the street performers wanted to take me home, but I always get hit on by the weirdo street performers, so it's nothing new ... Maybe I look like a hardy gal who would do well living on the streets? Who knows!)

2:40 Arrive back at Rockefeller Ctr to begin the Rock tour

3:00 Send our group off on the Rock tour

3-4:00 Walk around the area. Spend a lot of time watching ice skaters and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art store.

4:15 Kids arrive back from tour and we lead them to Broadway and 51st for dinner

4:30 Run into other group at souvenir stand. Tour Director gets us an earlier dinner reservation and we head to Mars 2112

4:45 Enter Mars for dinner. It's like we stepped back into 1984 and I'm on the set of alien fraggle rock. Weird, but the kids don't mind.

6:30 Kids want to change before the theater so the bus stops in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The boys change on the bus in the middle of Times Square and Annie and I lead the girls in and out of the hotel restrooms trying not to draw attention to ourselves.

7-7:30 Have the kids run around Virgin Records and Foot Locker

7:30 Trek to Phantom of the Opera

8:00 The tour director gave me his ticket since he said he's practically an understudy for the show. The show was okay. (Quit gasping!) The staging was fantastic, but the show consists of the same tune over and over with different words inserted to fit that moment.

11:00 Arrive back at the Ramada

Day Three

9:30 arrive in the city for a four-hour guided tour

10:15 Guide arrives with no apology. We begin the tour, and I could've given more information than she did. That helped boost my confidence about guiding people through the city. She's been doing it for seven years, and I know more, or at least I can articulate more of it to the kids.

12:00 Annie and I leave the tour in search of a subway so she can make her way to visit family in Connecticut and I to JFK to fly home.

I'm proud of myself since I was told to take a certain subway line, and asked a few questions, finding out that the line had signal problems. I took another line, figured out how to get there and made it to JFK without a hitch.

My flight did take off about 45 minutes late for it's flight to Atlanta. When in Atlanta I had to book it to another terminal and I barely made it there in time, but I got a seat and made it home safely.

With all the fun of these few days, I think I can successfully lead a tour of New York. Now the trick is to get an experienced bus driver during my tour so he/she can get me around the city without me giving directions. I'm also going to have to do a lot of research on D.C. and at least get the map of its main attractions down in my head. I have faith that I'll do just fine.

P.S. I thought my camera broke during tour, so I don't have any photos. The other shadower took a picture of me and one of the soldiers at FAO, so I'll post that once I receive it. I got my camera to work once I was home.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Next ... New York

I'm off to New York Thursday for my Smithsonian Student Travel ride along. It's a fast three-day trip. I'm eager to see how these tours work, but also a bit anxious about the prospect of me leading people around NYC and DC in a month. Being the procrastinator that I am, I'll begin to gather my questions tonight for the tour guide I'm shadowing. I really enjoy touring, but I do tend to worry myself prior to the tour. I guess I work better under self-induced stress ...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Culture Shock

America is a big and beautiful land, and it's been brought to my attention that you don't have to travel very far to experience culture shock. I would like to share a story from one of my "city" friends.

When Miss City came to visit me (she's from out-of-state), we traveled up to my family's farm. It was cold and rainy, but she still got the idea of what it was like on the farm. We traveled the back roads, I showed off the house I lived in until I was eight, we visited my nephews and mom and it was a nice relaxful afternoon. The entire time she was amazed.

It wasn't until a year later that Miss City shares with me that her farm experience was her first and that it was amazing for her to see a working farm. The American farm to her was something from books and movies and the people in her world didn't have any association to cattle or tractors. She even said that she always knew I came from a farm, but she couldn't put the two together. It was a culture shock to her.

My challenge to you: Go out in your own backyard and dare to explore the back roads and get out of your comfort zone. I bet you won't have to travel too far to find a different way of life.