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Trip Report-Most Memorable Moments

I was downloading photos from CD to a hard drive over the past week and came up with vacation memories dating back to 1970. It gave me the idea to post my travel moments that still come up in conversation today with whomever will listen to me. It’s not necessarily the highlight of a trip, but the moment or memory that comes with a story. My first trip to Europe wasn’t until 2104 with my wife Carla for our 25th anniversary and so the majority of these memories are North American. Whether you enjoy it or not, I don’t know, but it did kill a few hours of my weekend…

July 1970 Clear Lake, Manitoba I scream, you scream, we all scream….

I don’t have an exact date, and why this memory sticks with me I don’t know, but I was a 6-year-old with freedom on a bike in a resort town. Every day I’d beg my dad for some money and ride to the ice cream shop that had these dual ice cream cones so I could get two scoops side by side and then a third stacked on top of those two. When they were young, my kids used to look at me in awe when I told stories of what ice cream cones used to be like.

May 27, 1988 Minneapolis, Minnesota Rick Steves can kiss my a$%!

The Carla that packs for a vacation now is not the Carla that packed in 1988. It’s always been my dream to visit every Major League Baseball stadium before I die; I’ve been to 14 so far but have to revisit Minnesota as this trip was to their former stadium. It was just a quick in-and-out Friday-Monday including travel time; so, 2 full days, but she managed to squeeze 7 pairs of shoes and multiple lipsticks into her bag. Upon questioning; all items were necessary and I should mind my own business. Fast forward to last year’s 14-day European adventure and she had 1 small suitcase and 1 large purse and proudly brags about it and sends out photos on Facebook to her awed and shocked friends and family.

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May 30, 1989 Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California Never, ever leave early.

Our honeymoon. I’d I'd only been to one Major League Baseball game before and my beloved Montreal Expos were in town. I had family living in Anaheim and my cousin’s husband-who is not a sports fan was volunteered to take me to the game. He complained the whole way there and the during the entire game; he was a miserable person, but I put up with him because I was going to see the Expos. End of the 8th with the Expos down 4-1 he said we were leaving to beat traffic. I wasn’t happy, but what could I do? By the time we got to our car the Expos were winning 5-4. My cousin divorced the guy a couple of months later and I’d like to think it was because he made me miss the comeback. But to this day, when someone suggests we should leave a game, they get this story.

May 6, 2001 Disney World, Florida “Any day spent with you is my favourite day.” Winnie the Pooh.

My in-laws bought a time-share in the Orlando area back in the 80’s and we have taken full advantage, but after our kids were born we stopped with the Disney vacations for a bit because we didn’t want to waste money on a trip that they’d be too young to remember. My In-Laws kept asking us to reconsider but we held firm, until one day they asked us that if they paid, would we come? Not being one to say no to Free we were off with our kids aged 2 and-a-half and 4 to Disney World. I grew up reading the Winnie the Pooh books by A.A. Milne and when I discovered there was a Pooh Character Breakfast available, I was all-in. My son was nervous around the characters and didn’t want to go so it ended up being me, my daughter and her grandparents. She had no fear of the characters in the park or at this breakfast and was squealing with delight. But one particular squeal outdid the rest when Winnie the Pooh snuck up behind her and planted a kiss on her head. She squealed, stood up on her chair and announced to the world that Winnie the Pooh had given her a great big kiss on the top of her head. The moment is caught on film and is my most talked about photo.

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February 15, 2007 Todos Santos, Mexico The Eagles were here(?)

We’ve been to Mexico twice; both times at beautiful ocean view hotels. But ironically with both visits, the highlight has been renting a car and driving inland. On this trip it was a daytrip to Todos Santos which when I read from Lonely Planet’s website it is described as a quirky mix of locals, fishers, surfers and new age spiritualists. There is a hotel in town called Hotel California that is rumored to be where the Eagles got the inspiration for their song of the same name. My guess is that the rumor was started by the hotel to drum up business. In any case, we stopped for lunch and ordered this weird pizza that had roasted pears with Gorgonzola cheese. It was outstanding, Carla is an outstanding cook and she recreated it when we got home and it is now one of her signature dishes when she cooks for family or friends and everyone gets the story of how she got the recipe.

October 17, 2014 The Vatican Museum Buying your way to heaven.

This was our first trip outside of North America or Hawaii and it was living up to expectations. Honestly there are several days I could have described on this report, but the Vatican tour gave me an insight into two things that I’ve always dismissed as unimportant to me; Art and Religion. And while I still have no real interest in the actual art or worship, I find the history behind both to be fascinating. Our guide had a degree in Art History and was able to bring the art we saw to life in a way that I never imagined. She weaved tales about the corruption in the church and how it led to the reformation. So, while the tour hasn’t made me into an art lover, it did open up new avenues for me to appreciate the history behind the art which has helped me prepare for other trips and how to focus my plans on what I will enjoy, instead of checking of bucket-list items off what I’m supposed to enjoy.

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May 26, 2015, Chicago, Illinois Best meal.

Best restaurant meal I’ve ever had was at Joe’s Seafood and Steakhouse in Chicago. Later on, I’d learn that the original Joe’s was in Miami Beach; which we would visit two years later, but the food, atmosphere and service were outstanding and if I’m asked for my best culinary experience anywhere, this was it. I had the 24oz bone-in Ribeye with a blue cheese sauce and Carla had the Steak and Lobster. That blue cheese sauce was outstanding and not only has Carla recreated it, but she’s improved on it and now makes a blue cheese crust that we broil on top of our steaks.

October 8, 2015 Ensenada, Mexico World’s best, only $1.
California is a default vacation spot for us because we can fly there from Calgary quickly and cheaply, but we’d been there so many times over the years that we were looking for a new way to visit. We’d found a cheap 5-day cruise along the California coast and the ship also docked in Ensenada for a day. In our pre-trip research, we could not find anything of interest that we wanted to see or do there. Even on the ship, there was a lot of jokes from staff of it being a wasted Port. So, we figured we’d head out, wander around for an hour or two and then head back to the ship. As it turns out, it was our most talked about day on that trip. We found this tiny local history museum where we were the only tourists and the staff even seemed surprised that we showed up. It was actually a very interesting museum that described how the area was originally settled and how the Spanish came and pushed the natives off the land; very similar stories to the Native Indian stories in the US and Canada. We then walked along the main shopping street that caters to the tourists off the ship. We found a bar that advertised the best margaritas in the world for $1. $10 later we staggered back to the ship after an unexpectedly fun day.

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September 25, 2016 Quebec City, Quebec Standing on history.

One of the most important battles in Canadian history was fought on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City. The battle was on September 13, 1759 when the British Army led by General Wolfe snuck up from the river to fight the French Army led by General Montcalm. Wolfe won and the battle helped determine if the French or English would rule Canada. Before vacations I typically will read historical fiction and or biographies to learn more about where I’m going. Before this trip I had read a biography about both Generals leading up to this battle where they both were killed. There is a section of the book that describes Montcalm being shot and taken to a church where he died. There was nothing significant about the way it was described in the book, but we had a private tour of Quebec City this day and our guide took us inside this church- Chapelle des Ursulines and casually mentioned that we were standing on the spot where Montcalm died. It just blew me away that I was standing on the very spot that such a critical historical figure had died.

October 10, 2017 Venice, Italy Venice Get lost.

There is so much to see in Venice, but the greatest joy was following the Rick Steves advice that you will get lost, so just embrace it. I’m quite anal about directions and when planning a trip, it’s important to me to know in advance how I’m going to get from point A to point B, but Venice doesn’t cooperate. We got to our hotel at about noon and immediately set off exploring and managed to get to St Mark’s square and back fairly easily. Later on that day we had a late dinner which was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel, but it had gotten dark and foggy while we were eating and the walk back took about 30 minutes. As it turns out, we had walked right past our hotel twice and never even realized it. I though I’d mastered Venice after our 5 day visit, but the morning we were leaving, we took one last walk around and we ended up in a piazza west of our hotel when I could have sworn we were still east of the hotel. Venice wins again.

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September 24, 2018 Brightlingsea, England It’s like standing in front of a mirror.

This story starts a few days before. London and England have always been on the radar, but we brought my Mother-in-Law Gladys because she had always wanted meet cousins she’s never met and also go to the town where her Father grew up before he immigrated to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada by himself as an 18-year-old. We started meeting cousins while in London. It’s interesting when you start following a bloodline. All of her brothers and sisters are short; the women are all in the 5’ range with the men topping out at about 5’6”, and all extremely outgoing and friendly. Here we are crossing the Atlantic to meet cousins we’ve never met before and the English side of the family are spitting images of the Canadian side. 5’6” Tony Addison came to our apartment and as we introduced ourselves he asked if we were really related, I find it typical of my wife’s family that a stranger could write to say who they were and would like to meet and the that person would willingly show up and suddenly we’d all be best of friends; the resemblances and personality traits were uncanny.
But it’s off to Brightlingsea, about an hour east of London by train via Colchester. Gladys’s 5’6” friendly cousin Brian met us at the train station in Colchester and just like the past cousins, there was an immediate connection like they’d known each other for years as he toured us around for the day. First stop was the church where their grandparents are buried. It was a quiet moment and it’s one of those times when you realize that the trip was worth every penny when we saw the emotion it brought out in Gladys.

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June 1, 2019 Nice, France If you want the same, go home.

This was the final day of our RS Loire to the South of France Tour that ended in Nice. I'm a big sports fan, as was one other guy on the tour. Our first night in Nice was also the evening of the Champion's League Soccer Final. We set off in search of a sports bar, however we soon discovered that if we were expecting a North American style sports bar with multiple TV's...we'd better go to North America. Best we found was an outdoor patio where the bar rolled out 1 mid-size TV for a crowd of about 100 to sit around and watch. We ended back at our hotel bar with 1 smaller TV but no crowd; or nachos and wings. I still need to get to a live game overseas, but that will be for another trip report.

September 22, 2019 Laguna Beach, California In Thunderdome
We’ve stayed at places with an ocean view before, but usually large resort hotels set back from the beach. Carla had always wanted to stay right on the beach. We finally did it last September in Laguna Beach and our hotel balcony practically cantilevered over the water when the tide came in. Our expectations came crashing down though that first night. Our room had a pretty weak air conditioner and so we had to keep the windows open, but the waves crashing against the rocks surrounding our hotel was like constant thunder all. night. long. You build yourself up for what is gong to finally be the much dreamed about perfect location and all we could do is act like the Grinch that stole Christmas and complain about the noise noise noise noise. In future, it’s a yes to ocean views but a no to seaside hotels surrounded by waves and rocks.

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Allan, this is entertaining stuff! Obviously you have as much time on your hands as the rest of us. ;-) Keep up the good work!

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Enjoyed this trip/s report very much. Thanks Allan. By the way, you'll love the new Minneapolis stadium.

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Alan, I'm really enjoying this also. You've included such warm and personal touches.
Safe travels- whenever!

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Great, Allan. Two of my frequently-told memories:
September, 1969 -- England. First trip to Europe, got off the cheap charter flight at Stanstead Airport after a long flight from California, took a cab to our hotel in Bishops Stortford and saw a lorry coming at us ... on OUR side of the road. Thinking "we have been planning this trip for five years and we're going to be killed in the first half hour!" Then the lorry passed by and I remembered that in England cars drive on THE LEFT.
October 1969 -- Versailles, asked about an English-speaking tour. Since at that time October was "off-season" we had to wait to see if enough English speakers would turn up to justify a tour. After about 20 minutes and no takers we asked how many people they would need -- and paid for 10 tour tickets so they would run the tour for just us. (This on a student budget -- but things were incredibly cheap then.) Amazing!! I have been to Versailles a number of times since, but never without crowds.

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Thanks for the morning read Allen. Much more entertaining then the daily news report.

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Great stories, Allan! Being from SoCal, I appreciate your Ensenada, Laguna Beach and Dodger stadium stories. You can always see the trail of car rear lights leaving Dodger stadium way before the game is over. I haven’t been to Ensenada since my college years so good to know there’s a museum to enjoy if I ever return. Museums weren’t on the list of sights back in those days lol.

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Allan - me too on those baseball stadium visits. I have been to 12 so far, some multi times, plus 2-3 older ones that are no longer standing. Some just went to but did not get to see a game. I really don’t count those. When they had to baseball strike, we had tickets for Baltimore. I worked for Citgo at the time and my sales rep got tixs for me. We are St. Louis Cardinals fans, so my bucket list is to go see them play (if possible) at all the baseball fields. We live in Oklahoma, so we got most of the surrounding stadiums driving. Now we will have to fly probably to east/west coast ones. Our trip to London to see the cards vs cubs was cancelled.🙁

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Kim, I haven't made it to St Louis yet but because of the history of the team I really want to. Unfortunately, my wife doesn't share my enthusiasm for baseball and I've got a challenge on my hands to convince her that trips to places like St. Louis, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc. is a god idea.

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I have been to Versailles a number of times since, but never without
crowds.

Laura B, I haven't made it to Versailles yet but it has been a bucket list item for a long time. Carla is only 5' tall and so she doesn't particularly enjoy crowded places and so part of our planning will be to figure out the hours to beat the lines and see inside before it gets to crazy and then explore outside while everyone is inside. Not sure if that's possible but that's what research is for. I'm wondering if we should stay overnight in Versailles in an attempt to extend our day to early morning and later in the evening?

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Allan, we did get to Versailles once a few years ago (December, drizzly day) when we were almost alone in the Hall of Mirrors for a few minutes instead of just seeing the back of the next person. Bad weather may be the key.
Or the suggested order of gardens first, palace in afternoon.

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Thank you Allan, for sharing your memories. Reading trip reports and going to the Forum page have been great in easing the pain of not being able to travel. I've been putting together photo albums of past trips, every one of the to England. Each one has a file containing ticket stubs and menus and all sorts of ephemera, saved for when I "have time" to put them into an album. Well, I certainly have time now. Thank you again.

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I'm adding my thanks for sharing your memories. Aren't you lucky? You have so many and they were fun to read. I'm as short as your Carla so can certainly commiserate with her inability to see over the crowds. I do hope you visited Coors Field on your stadium visits. We have season tickets and are really, really missing a season this year.

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Andi, haven't made it to Coors Field yet; Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles-Dodgers and Angels, San Diego, Minnesota, Chicago-Cubs and White Sox, Philadelphia-new and old stadium, Toronto, New York-Yankees only, Boston, Tampa Bay.

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Oh, and West Palm Beach where the Expos have Spring Training (I won't use the word Nationals). Plenty of Expos hats and jerseys were in the crowd, including mine.

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Thank you for sharing! At least we can read about places and go in our minds and trigger memories...

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emphasized textYou’ll like the SF Giants Oracle Park. I still call it PAC Bell but I’ve been a fan since they moved from NY to SF.

Candlestick was the absolute worst but Oracle is fabulous.

Do wish the area remained gritty but of course it gentrified. Started going to the Ramp in the late 80’s when I volunteered at KQED, the City’s PBS Station.
Was our secret spot. No longer a secret having been a location in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine film. That and the gentrification and development that has occurred. Very popular spot now.

Anyway, interesting place for a meal before or after the game especially if you are driving.

If using public transport then consider the Brickhouse on Brannon. 10 minute stroll to Willie Mays Plaza and Oracle Park.

Personally I’m one of thousands who have sent letters saying Oracle should be renamed Willie Mays Park but we all know these days it’s all about corporate names. Show me the money !

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Claudia, I've been to Oracle Park a coupe of times now and yes, it's an awesome park. The last time there was late July in 2018 and I was still cold during an evening game and so I can't imagine what Candlestick was like.

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Claudia, I've been to Oracle Park a coupe of times now and yes, it's an awesome park. The last time there was late July in 2018 and I was still cold during an evening game and so I can't imagine what Candlestick was like.\

That famous traveler Mark Twain often quoted as saying "the coldest winter I've ever spent was summer in San Francisco." What I don't get is why cities would choose to build asymmetric stadia on purpose.

My favorite experience was Blue Jay Stadium in Toronto, with the hotel built right into the stadium. Plus the lake and all attractions nearby. Great trip.