Monday, May 26, 2008

Murphy's Law

Murphy was on this first tour ... Murphy's Law, that is. What could go wrong with the train did. We didn't have air conditioning for most tof the trip, a passenger was taken off the train for dehydration. We had to stop the train in the middle of nowhere becuase the guy drank many a bottles of wine the night before and he hadn't been drinking any water. We were 12 hours behind on our way to the grand canyon because we had troubles gettting the Amtrak crew here on time, then we had mechanical issues. We then decided to have our day on the rails on the grand canyon day instead of the day after. We were then traveling through the Mojave desert in the scorching heat. It was record temps in Las Vegas. I took a group to the Valley of Fire in 105 temperatures. We cut the tour short because the bus's air conditiong couldn't keep up with the heat. We then got back to the train after it was sitting in the heat, and it wasn't any better. Needless to say, we had a lot of passengers who were unhappy with the train experience. The good thing about the tour was that many of the passengers said the tours and train service was the best they ever experienced.

Oh, and on the second day of the tour, I was yelled at by one of the guests because he wanted to sit up front on the bus tour. He told me that people are selfish and that I need to get a backboneto keep the same people from sitting up front. And he said that these people were too fat and needed nutri system to be on tour. The funny thing was he was always sitting near the front. I had to move him a few times because he would park himself in the front seat where the local guides needed to be. He didn't like me all that much. His wife did tell me that he had a rough year with his health and that he wasn't himself. That made me much more understanding.

Then we started our second tour, and we were to begin moving by 7p.m. but we didn't leave until midnight because Amtrak derailed one of its engines while trying to get us going. And since the train is split in two while parked in Albuquerque, guests had to cross the tracks to get to theh dining cars. Then when they were attaching the train, some were stranded in one side of the train for a couple hours.

Yesterday's tour of Bandelier National Monument went really well, and everyone enjoyed the Pueblo cliff dwellings. We then went into Santa Fe. We do have people with mobility issues that are pitching fits. On the first night one woman told me that she's never walked so much in her life trying to get from one place to another and that the halls of the train were too narrow. I guess some don't realize when the brochure says you need to be mobile to ride the train, they don't believe it. The train does rock and roll and we're seeing a lot of remote areas where walking is involved.

I'm still having a great time. The few odd balls are not ruining the tours. I've met some very lovely people that roll with the punches. There are those that have fun stories, good humor and adventurous attitudes. Those are the ones I visit with the most, but unfortunately the ones that yell at you make the strongest impressions.

I've written this in between talking to guests, so I hope it makes some sense. Look for pix after June 2.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chuggin' Along

I'm sitting at the tour desk on a rail car that has a broken air conditioner. My time is short, but I'll give you the run down of where we've been.

Jackson, Wy.: Teton Mountain Lodge (beautiful) - Snowed and then got to be very nice. Tetons are incredible mountains! Wonderful pic stop at Mt. Moran. Had a very nice dinner at the national museum of wildlife art.

Yellowstone: Toured through park - Old Faithful, West Thumb, Fountain Paint Pots. Saw a ton of bison and elk.

Road the potato rails to Salt Lake City - Very bumpy ride, but good. Many guests were shocked by their rooms. One told me that they knew the room would be small, but not the size of a small walk-in closet.

Salt Lake City and Park City - Had a city tour today of salt lake, ate in temple square at the Joseph Smith Memorial Bldg and visited Cauldron Park. Very sunny day. Drove out to Park City and visited the different boutiques. It reminds me a bit of Vail, Co. P.S. Salt Lake is incredibly clean. It doesn't even look like there's a bad part of town, but I may not have seen it.

I'm loving the tours and the guests. Not too many incidents. Only one ambulance ride for a guest who had a spill at Old Faithful. I'll try to get pix posted after my run ends June 2. I'll try to keep up the posts though.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Rails!

Today is THE day. I'm off to Jackson, Wyoming, to start my first tour with GrandLuxe Rail Journeys. I'm excited about this new adventure. I'll start the tour via bus through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, then pick up the train. From there we'll make our way south through the national parks in Utah, Grand Canyon, Santa Fe and end in Albuquerque. I'll be sure to post when I can. Stay tuned ...

Friday, May 09, 2008

One Year Ago

It's hard to believe one year ago today I flew into Anchorage for my 4 1/2 month journey through Alaska. It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it has.

The sad thing is I'm not going back this year to tour with my tour directing friends. I'm embarking on a new journey with new guests through the rest of the West.

The great thing is I made friends when I was in Alaska that I will have for the remainder of my days. For that, I'm truly grateful.

Monday, May 05, 2008

City of Fountains

Spring is one of my favorite seasons. It's not just the break from winter, the smell of fresh-cut lawns or the budding trees. It's also when the beautiful fountains that are sprinkled throughout Kansas City spout water once more.

The Children's Fountain in North Kansas City is one of my favorites. I was driving by today and thought I would take a few pictures. I wish it were a sunnier day, but it's still beautiful. Enjoy!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Midwest Mayhem

I don't know how much national coverage this will get, but one of the joys of living in the Midwest is the crazy weather. The "Northland," which is the Kansas City North metro area got pummeled by high winds. They're not saying it was a tornado, but the sirens were going off. If you would like to know more, read "Hurricane-force winds damage metro area."

The sirens went off in the early evening, then I went to bed. In the middle of the night it was really storming, so I got up, shut my windows, rolled up my carpet in the basement so it wouldn't get wet if the basement flooded and went back to bed on the second floor of my house. My one true thought was, "This is good sleeping weather." I'm sure glad I wasn't sleeping in this house that's about 25 blocks north of me!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Presidential Inauguration Tour

I forgot to share this tidbit of information. I was asked by EF Smithsonian Student Travel to lead a tour during the January 2009 inauguration. They have a lot of tours going out that week because it is such an historic event. It will be a madhouse! But, who could pass up an opportunity to be a part of it?