Everything is done.
I’ve just sent off the picture-filled Travel Packets for the April 8th Western Forts tour, along with hanging name badges and leather luggage tags. All of us on the Copper Canyon to Cabo tour have our Travel Packets and I’m filling in the luggage tags now so everyone’s luggage is recognizable. Pack tonight and off we go, tomorrow.
Why is it we anticipate? It’s our imagination, I think. The pictures in the Travel Packets tempt us to imagine what it will be like—the warmth, the sun, the pleasant breezes, even the fear and tension of “What if…”. Of course, imagination is how people sign up for tours in the first place. It is those wonderful, tempting ads. However, I think it is also word of mouth. If the participants have a good time, they will tell others.
That’s the way to grow a business, especially mine.
While I was putting together the Travel Packets with day-by-day itineraries, I could feel the excitement and anticipation. I searched the Internet to find images of the many places we were going. It was fun to include pictures (credited, of course) of Chihuahua, of magnificent vistas of the Copper Canyon train, the images of swimming with Whale Sharks, or the beautiful views of Sul Ross in Alpine with sunlit clouds. I shared the Travel packet with Mary, the Amtrak ticket agent, and even she wanted to go! All those pictures inspire a tingle of excitement. It is our imagination that fills in the details.
Everything has to be perfect. I spent the day making sure it was. Call, check, confirm, make changes, correct names of participants, update, cancel some hotels, find cheaper ones, and finally, drive all the way down into Houston to the Amtrak office to verify and pick-up the Western Forts train tickets. I can see why my friends from PTGAH (the Professional Tour Guide Association of Houston, an awkward acronym) just work for tour companies and don’t try to do it all themselves, but I have always enjoyed planning.
Years ago, I believe it was 1967, a group of our college friends decided to drive up to the Canadian World Exhibition in Montreal. We organized the tour which we called MOCEX – Mother’s Canadian Expedition. I even had letterhead stationary printed up, not sure why. We chose camp sites at state parks all the way up the Eastern seaboard since we were far too poor to afford hotels.
I can remember us thinking it would be funny to drop the tent on Mrs. Whitley (yes, our parents went along) before she had her coffee. She came out furious, swinging her purse to clobber us. Of course, we laughed uproariously—briefly! I also designed the menus, trying to use those giant cans of commercial foods. When we went to a Wholesale grocery store to determine prices, we were booted out for fear we were the competition. The trip was a success, but we had canned food leftovers for months afterward. I hadn’t planned quite as efficiently as I thought!
Since then, I have put together trips for students to all sorts of different places.
One trip with two buses of Winter Park High School students to St. Augustine, Florida resulted in a pathetic effort at a historical film for the local Public Access channel, including a slow-mo firing of a cannon. I don’t think we ever finished the film. The students also snuck beer onto the buses coming back and one of the big football players scared the petite, pretty Student Teacher Intern by refusing to sit down. We had to stop the buses and swap places. Another unforgettable experience for the participants.
So, off we go tomorrow. Anticipation rising. Memories in the making.