Please sign in to post.

Trip Report-Most Memorable Moments, Part 2

I’m sitting in Brandon, Manitoba right now visiting in-laws instead of spending 2 weeks in London which was on the itinerary until you-know-what happened. I posted Memorable Moments-Part 1 a few months ago https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/trip-report-most-memorable-moments and like then, I’m a bit bored, so here are some random vacation memories with a story I still like to tell anyone who will listen…

February 1979. The kindness of others. Due to a workplace injury and other factors, my dad had trouble holding a steady job from about 1974 until his death in 1986 and as a result, money was always a struggle. When I was 14 in 1979, my hockey team had an opportunity to play in a tournament in Orange County, California. I was pretty sure that money problems would keep me from going, but my Mom and Dad had earned some good karma over the years and a mystery benefactor made sure I was included. While playing hockey anywhere, anytime is still a joy for me, that trip was highlighted not by hockey but by staying across the street from Disneyland. I’d only ever dared to dream about a trip to see Mickey; or anywhere for that matter as vacations had become nonexistent due to finances. To this day, the magic of the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are remembered thanks to a still unknown benefactor, and on future trips when my kids were that age I’d remind them of the story and to always be grateful for what they have and to create good karma of their own.

January 1986. I’m here too! In Spring 1985, I’d graduated college and a few months later moved for my first job to Brandon, Manitoba-an 11 hour drive from home. Six months into that job I had my first adult vacation and except for that visit to California in 1979 it would be my first vacation since I was about 10 years old. Where do I go?…home to visit family. With me was the girl of my dreams who I’d met on day 3 after my move to Brandon. 3 years later she would become my wife. She’s an energetic, friendly, bubbly person and even though I hadn’t been home in 6 months the whole week home was about her, and I was an afterthought. I’m reminded of this every time we meet new people. Last year on our RS tour, it was Carla and her husband whatshisname. Carla is memorable to everyone she meets, I’m just that guy she’s with. I’m ok with that because I got the girl.

Continued below...

Posted by
1817 posts

February 13-28, 1988. The world comes to me. The Calgary Winter Olympics. I was 23 years old and up until this time my travel experience was Western Canada and that trip to Disneyland; Americans were still exotic foreigners to me. Every night my friends and I would head downtown to Olympic Plaza where the medal ceremonies were held in the evening, then we’d just wander and take it all in. We were amazed how many different languages we’d hear. It was an eye-opening experience-almost mystical for a guy who had never gone far, plus this is long before the internet that could bring the world to you. I still get goosebumps about those 2 weeks.

July 1991. Not so quiet night. This story comes up a lot. A hotel in Minot, North Dakota. I’m not one to spend a dime, when a nickel will do. We were young, newly married and not much money, so when we needed a room for the night in Minot and I saw a motel with a sign that said rooms were $20/night, I jumped at it despite the protests from Carla. It turns out the head of our bed was against a very thin wall, and on the other side of that very thin wall was a very loud biker bar. The thin walls were on all the other walls as well and we heard Harley’s roaring in and out of the parking lot all night. I’m still the trip planner and hotel booker, but I am on a leash and she gets to tell great stories about how cheap I am. Carla loves to tell this story; she should really thank me for the great stories I provide her at my expense.

December 25, 1993. Overplanning? When Carla gets involved in the trip planning, she might be a tad bit extreme. I gave Carla a Birnbaum guidebook for Disney World as we had our first trip there planned for Spring of 1994 along with her parents, her brother, and his wife. She dove into that book and wouldn’t you know it, she found a breakfast menu item that included two of my favourite things; French Toast and bananas, (called Tonga Toast) being served at one of the Disney hotels. So, several months before we were there, the itinerary for that day was so detailed, that it included a breakfast reservation AND what we were ALL going to eat. If you knew her, you’d understand this is normal behaviour.

Continued below...

Posted by
1817 posts

July 3, 2001. Vacation before our vacation. Our son was 5 and our daughter almost 4 and in a week we were going to meet my in-laws in Victoria. But today was the big day, the in-laws live in Manitoba and were driving through on their way to Victoria to pick up the kids. A couple of days earlier my mother-in-law had called to ask if it would be ok if they brought the kids with them and we could catch up by ourselves the next week. It’s embarrassing how fast we said yes, had their bags packed and were ready to push them out the door. Thus, it was our first time in 5 years with no kids in the house for more than a day and we had no idea what to do. Which is exactly what we did.

July 11, 2007. Sometimes you forget what you have in your own backyard. Banff, Alberta is an hour and 15 minutes from my door and in my opinion, one of the most scenic drives in the world is on the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. If I had to rank it among scenic drives, I’d rank it 2nd behind the Amalfi Coast and ahead of the Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Santa Barbara. We meandered our way along the parkway making multiple stops for 30-45 minute hikes to places like Peyto Lake or to roadside turnouts if wildlife was within view, which there was plenty; black bears, elk, deer, mountain sheep and mountain goats all conveniently hanging out near the highway.

July 8, 2010. Round and round we go. We were staying with close friends in Glenside, Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. Our friends were at work so me, Carla and our kids drove to Camden, New Jersey for the day to check out the aquarium. There is a toll bridge to get back into Philadelphia and once I paid the $10 toll my GPS told me to take the next right, however the GPS wasn’t quite correct, there were 2 right hand turns ahead-side by side separated by about a 3’ concrete boulevard. Since it said to take the first right, I did, and it took me into a lane that took me back over the bridge into New Jersey. So, I had to pony up another $10 to go over the bridge again and this time I didn’t listen to my GPS and took the 2nd right. I have to wonder how many times that happens to other unsuspecting drivers as the right turns are side by side with little warning and time to make a decision.

Continued below...

Posted by
1817 posts

August 18, 2012. They grow up so fast. About a year before, my Mom’s 80th birthday was coming up. I was planning well in advance and asked her where she wanted to go for her birthday. She told me Hawaii…I’d actually meant where did she want to go out for dinner, but what the heck, so we planned a family trip to Hawaii for the next year. Off to the beach one day and my Mom was so excited. She got into the ocean and told me something that I’d never realized; that she’d never swum in the ocean before and it meant a lot to her to get a chance. It was one of those days where the child became the parent and I was so happy to sit back and watch her enjoying herself. Almost everyday on that trip, we went to the beach so she could have a swim. The next day she ramped it up and bought a snorkel, goggles and fins and it is one of my favourite photos.

August 23, 2013. Older than dirt part 1. Paley Center for Media, Beverley Hills, Ca. The Paley Center was having an exhibition that featured TV shows and paraphernalia from the 1960’s and 1970’s which looked fun because it was from our childhood. It was a lot of fun, and took us back as there were costumes and artifacts from studio sets such as the Brady Bunch, and also licensed merchandise such as toys and lunchboxes from such childhood classics such as Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny. All in fun until I suggested to Carla that this was the first museum we’d been to that we were older than the artifacts. Lesson learned, never remind a lady of her age or she may use words that aren’t very lady-like.

August 8, 2014. Thanks for clarifying that?? Our first European adventure was 2 months away and I was busy trying to find a tour of Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast out of Naples. I had narrowed down my search to two companies. I really like the itinerary of one, but it was way more expensive than the other. I was emailing back and forth with the cheaper company trying to determine what the tour included and did not include. After multiple back and forth attempts to get clarification, she promptly responded “Everything is included, unless it’s not.” I went with the other tour company. I suspect language was a bit of a problem, plus I’d learn during the trip that the Southern Italian lifestyle and work environment is a heck of a lot more laid back than what I’m used to. I like to share this story with friends and family who are new to travel so they can understand that it’s a big world and not everyone thinks in the same way.

Continued below...

Posted by
1817 posts

Oct 10, 2014. Unexpected good day. Cannes, France day-trip off a cruise. According to Rick Steves you can buy a gelato at one end of Cannes and be done seeing everything before your last lick. I beg to differ. We spent the morning wandering through the old town wondering where all the tourists were-apparently, they read the RS guide and stayed on board. We got some very nice photos with unobstructed views and no crowds and met a local who blew the whole 'french are rude' myth out of the water. Carla and I were wandering around looking lost and he approached us and asked if he could help us find our way. This story comes up every time we hear a comment about the rude French. In the afternoon we took a short ferry to Sainte Marguerite Island where the real Man in the Iron Mask was reportedly imprisoned. As a fan of Alexandre Dumas this was a big deal to me.

July 3, 2015. Older than dirt part 2. You’d think one would learn a lesson. An hour and 15 minutes northeast of Calgary is an outstanding museum called the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology. Alberta is a hotbed of dinosaur fossils and this museum has a Hall of Dinosaurs featuring reconstructed bones of all types that have been uncovered in the area. One of the displays was featured on the cover of National Geographic in 2017 of the best-preserved fossil of its kind of a Nodosaur, which is an armour plated dinosaur with a lot of spikes to keep the riff-raff away. I got a great photo of Carla starting intently and I showed her the photo and said “look, a photo of an old fossil looking at an old fossil.” once again, the response was not lady-like.

September 20, 2018. Made to feel welcome. Our first ride on the Tube and our first experience with the friendliness and politeness of Londoners. This was our 2nd full day in London, and we’d done a lot of walking and ended up at the Museum of London. We decided to take the Tube back to our apartment in Covent Garden. I was with Carla and my Mother-in-Law Gladys; all of us are healthy and fit and don’t need assistance, but as soon as we were on the train, men were popping out of their seats to offer them to Carla and Gladys. Over the next week we experienced this to be standard behaviour; men would offer seats to them, and if we looked lost, locals would offer help. One day, we were on our way back to London from Brightlingsea, our train was cancelled halfway back because of an incident on the track (some guy decided to end it all and walked in front of a train). We and many others were stranded at a station and we noted the locals easily making alternative plans. We were adopted by a teenager who walked us through what was going on, got us on an alternate train and then helped us figure out what train (tube) we needed to get on to get back to our apartment. Londoners should be proud of themselves.

Continued below...

Posted by
1817 posts

May 21, 2019. Possibly of interest to absolutely nobody but me. The most boring photo I kept from this day was what I think is my most interesting story. Friends humor me with a smile when I still tell it, but I sense they’re not as fascinated. Amboise, France and DaVinci’s final home. Lots of re-creations and drawings of things he envisioned or invented including an automobile, helicopter and machine gun. But what got me is that he’s credited with coming up with the idea for the ball bearing. That just blows me away, something so simple and unassuming, but so important in the construction of cars, helicopters and maybe a machine gun? Just think of the royalties his family could still be collecting if he’d patented it.

October 17, 2019. No such thing as ghosts?? Bucket list item for me is to stay at a haunted castle. On this day Carla booked a haunted castle for an overnight stay that was supposed to have happened in June this year. Carla is not a believer in ghosts and rolls her eyes whenever I bring it up.

“There’s no such things as ghosts”, she said as she clicked on the button to book the room.

“I hope you booked the room where the ghost is supposed to live”, I said.

“No way”, she said, “what if the ghost appeared, that would be creepy.”

Me “???...but you said…”

Posted by
6366 posts

Allan —well I for one am glad that you are bored. These travel remembrances that you have recounted here are so charming and full of heart.

Especially love the story about taking your mother to Hawaii and her swimming in the ocean for the first time for her 80th birthday. A truly priceless gift.

Thanks for cheering up my morning commute.

Posted by
1357 posts

I too really enjoyed reading this. I was charmed by your descriptions of your wife and your family's reaction to her. I also especially enjoyed the story about your mother and her 80th birthday.

Posted by
1026 posts

Allan, what marvelous stories! You and Carla sound like a hoot to travel with! I especially appreciate the reminder that some of our best travel memories aren't necessarily created during journeys to far-away realms, but might also come from excursions closer to home.... a reminder that I, for one, appreciate right now.

Posted by
80 posts

Great read. Thanks for posting this. I would love to meet Carla sometime, and maybe whatshisname too.

Posted by
195 posts

Loved these anecdotes Allan. Used to live in Calgary and one of my favourite day trips was to the Tyrell Museum and the stunning Badlands around Drumheller.

Posted by
4565 posts

Allan, I know I have posted this before, but I can't wait to meet you and Carla.

Posted by
1817 posts

One day Jane, you'll have to walk me through an art museum and explain what I'm seeing.

Posted by
45 posts

Sweet stories, thanks for sharing! Especially the one about your mother in the ocean.

Posted by
302 posts

Allan, thanks for sharing these wonderful trip stories! I, too, was especially charmed by your mom's excitement about swimming and snorkeling in Hawaii. 😃 It's fun to read your stories - and you've inspired me to capture some my own favorite travel moments in a similar fashion. Thank you!

Laurie😊

Posted by
128 posts

Thank you Allan! a very enjoyable and humorous read. I second the ‘glad that you are bored’ and chose to share these memorable moments from your past adventures.

Posted by
1817 posts

and you've inspired me to capture some my own favorite travel moments
in a similar fashion.

Laurie, I hope that means we can expect a trip report soon. The forum has been slim pickings lately.

Edit to add: Maybe I'll post in General Europe to share a good story.

Posted by
59 posts

THANKS SO MUCH for writing this Allan! Love your writing style. It made me think about my travels and all the glorious moments that I've experienced.

FOR CARLA: Ghosts can be friendly. October 1998 I had always wanted to stay in a castle and if it was haunted, so much the better. I got the chance to stay at Amberley Castle near Arundel, West Sussex, England. Beautiful old castle, spacious manicured grounds, complete with draw bridge and a curfew. And of course, warnings about Emily, their resident ghost. Every time I entered or left the room, I spoke to Emily. Sadly, I never got an answer. On the last morning, per usual, I do a complete room search after packing, checking for any item that may have left behind. The windows were all closed, no ceiling fans going. I walked into the bathroom. The bathtub was up two steps on a platform with glass partitions on each side to protect from the shower spray. My travel partner had brought a micro fiber wash cloth along. As I was saying goodbye to Emily, I heard a swish. The washcloth, which had been placed on top of the glass partition to dry, fell into the tub. Thanks Emily!! Without her help, it would have been left behind and this was the first stop of our trip.

Posted by
1817 posts

Thanks for the ghost story Susanna. A driving trip around Southern England has been on my wish list with a stop at Arundel Castle. Amberley Castle looks like a potential overnight location nearby.