Tour Guiding-A Stolen Bike & A New Bike

Guiding at Torrey Pines Golf Course

In 1997 I quit my career as a nurse. After taking a year off, going back to school and having fun,  I began a search for a new career. A small ad in the local newspaper guided me into a career that continued until I retired. For fourteen years I was a Tour Guide in San Diego and a Tour Director, taking seniors and other ages, on tours throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, and South America. It was a great job and one I was well suited for. Often I was the one who stood at the front of the bus with a microphone in hand, giving tours, maintaining a sense of humor, and guiding everyone to have a good time.

What makes up a good tour guide or director:

  • Knowledge. One has to be willing to research often on the places they guide. Guests expect you to know every rock, tree, flower, and more. In San Diego, I took avail of any local tours, refreshing myself on the local facts and lore. I read books and asked lots of questions. When I was planning an outbound tour, I was often busy for up to six weeks before a trip, preparing and refreshing my knowledge.
  • Humor. When all else fails a good sense of humor will push one through the roughest of patches.
  • Kindness and Caring. What made me so well suited for this job was the fact that I really cared about each person, even the difficult ones, on my trips and tours around San Diego. My goal was to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. I always hoped there might be a “wow” moment for each individual.
  • A willingness to lose sleep. Long after my guests were off to dreamland I was up studying for the next day. If someone was ill in the middle of the night, I was up with them.
  • Flexibility and no I don’t mean that I can touch my toes. When things go wrong on a trip or tour, a good tour guide or tour director needs to be able to change things on the fly.
  • Generally, we need to know how everything works. Where do we meet guests at the airport? Where can the motorcoaches pick up and drop off? How do we register these guests for a conference? What roads do I take to get from point A to point B? The list goes on.

What really made this job worthy of my time, especially on a local level was the sense of community among the local tour guides. Part of work, was meeting up with the other tour guides. I looked forward to seeing everyone I worked with. The tour guides in San Diego are a tight-knit group. We all know each other, we lament with each other, share the joys and gossip, and enjoy hanging out with each other. I love the local tour guides.

My sweet red bike

A few days ago my beloved road bike was stolen. Sigh. As with almost everything I own, it carries a story with it. It is a fast little red Jamis road bike.  Jim, my now deceased husband bought it for me. I loved that bike. I loved riding it with him. After he died I found that riding my bike was the type of sport I still loved the most. When my bike disappeared I was heartbroken and at a bit of loss about what to do.

I immediately discovered grief, again. I know I have to grieve for the loss of this precious bike. Life is about impermanence and this is being taught to me again. Sigh.

I know that I will get a new road bike. I love riding too much to be without one. Until then what was I suppose to do? I went on Facebook (yes I know some of you are not fond of social media) posted on my personal page that I had my bike stolen, and was wondering if anyone had a bike I could borrow until I could buy another bike. Within an hour, yes an hour, a fellow tour guide, Jay, posted on my page that he had a bike that was given to him by another tour guide, Bev, and he wanted to give it to me. I went to his house which is very close to where I am staying, took it for a ride, and came home with a Cannondale M300 mountain bike.

My New Ride

How incredibly cool is this? How kind and caring. The tour guide community in San Diego is strong. Even though I have retired from guiding, I still meet up with guides, catch up on all the gossip, and know that if I need anything at all, I can reach out to most of the guides I know and if they can help, they will. I want to thank Jay for stepping forward and being generous and kind and caring to my need. It is not unusual that people will step forward in a crisis (big or small). It brings out the best in most of us. It certainly brought out the best in Jay and I will be forever grateful for to him and to this blue mountain bike, currently getting tuned up.

In a few days’ time, I will be out on my new bike, learning the ins and outs of a completely different style of bike. It will help me gain new knowledge and skills. I am anxiously waiting to ride it around the bay. I am anxiously waiting for my first ride.

Today and each day I ride that blue Mountain Bike I will be grateful for Jay’s gift to me. I will be thankful for a job that gave me the opportunity to meet and know such fine people. Today and as always I am grateful.

Thank you, Jay. You are the best.

 

Arriving & Departing

Two weeks ago I arrived in San Diego. It was hot, like really hot. Even though I don’t mind camping in all kinds of weather….the heat did me in. I lasted a day. I don’t care if I have air conditioning in my rig, I don’t care if my little home on wheels is super comfortable. When it is over 100 degrees at 7 pm, I give up.

I know I have told all of you this before but….here it is again. I have wonderful friends. They are caring and loving and giving. I feel fortunate. My dear friend Pat rescued me from the heat and took Elsie and myself into her home for most of the two weeks. I feel so fortunate and grateful to her. I got to sleep in a comfortable bed with air conditioning. Elsie had a large space to romp about in. Pat and I had ample time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I am grateful to Pat and to those treasured shared moments in time.

Entering into San Diego this time was hard. I had a busy agenda. Most of what I needed to do is complete. I am signed up for Medicare. The next step of my dental work is complete. The rig is ready to roll. Once all that was done I had time to visit with friends. It was a busy couple weeks.

Emotionally I have been all over the place. Coming to San Diego really triggers all kinds of emotions and feelings for me. I feel vulnerable. I feel strong. I feel sad. I feel joy. Sometimes I am close to tears, more often I am not. Man those emotions really bounce around. I wonder sometimes if I don’t feel a sense of displacement when I arrive here. It is not unusual to have friends welcome me home and yet I am not sure this is my home. I am beginning to feel a longing to figure out where home is to me.

I don’t think I stayed here long enough. It felt rushed. I think when I return in November or December I will stay at least a month. Maybe I can find a rental and Elsie and I can settle in and see how it really feels. I don’t think I will spend all winter in San Diego. I have a longing to winter up north, somewhere in the Monterey Peninsula. That is a changeable goal. Everything is changeable. Life is change. I am certainly learning that and yet I  need to be reminded.

The view from close to where i am camping.

Tonight I am camped on Mission Bay in San Diego and am enjoying the temperate ocean breeze. Tomorrow morning I am heading inland. Elsie is going to visit a friend of mine in Colorado for about two weeks. She has been to Deana’s before. Deana and her sweet pup are going to care take Elsie for two weeks while I head to southern Utah and adventure off with my good friends Mary and Linda.

We are going into the back country of Canyonlands National Park. I am excited and looking forward to this next adventure. It is fun to have met others who like to do the same things I do. Some of this adventuring is a bit daunting on my own. When I am with others, it becomes a grand and fun adventure and less of a challenge.

The full package of who I am follows along with me each day. I am grateful to have friends I can call and share deep felt emotions with. I am grateful for friends to have fun with, share a dinner, share a movie or just sit and talk. I keep seeing and feeling the phrase in my mind “all we can do is walk each other home”. I am glad to have those around me who are willing walk the journey with me.

Tonight I am feeling so grateful and every other emotion in between.

 

 

The Life of a Swamper

As many of you may know, I am spending a part of my summer in Donnelly, Idaho. It is up in the mountains and is, simply, a delightful place to be. I came into the area late in May and have been spending time, first, in Boise (a great medium size town) and now here in Donnelly.

I interrupted my stay for two weeks, so I could travel to northern Montana and join a group of people and raft down the North Fork of the Flathead River. I have never been on a private multi-day raft trip before. It has a very different flavor than a commercial trip. It is work!!! The rafts have to be hauled to the put in, blown up and outfitted. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete this project. It is not easy work. Many items are heavy.  Team effort is a definite must and this group of sixteen excelled in helping others.

I was the swamper of my friend, Mary’s, raft. What, you may ask, is a swamper? Originally the term was used in the logging industry but when it comes to rafting, well, it is a whole different story. Swampers help with everything. Loading the raft?  Yep. Unloading the raft? Yep. Hauling stuff from point A to point B? Yep. Now those tasks sound easy but there is a lot involved. Each item on a raft has a certain place. Everything is double checked to be sure it is strapped down and locks, locked. Does the raft need to be pumped up? Here, let me do that. If anyone needs help in and around the campsite, well there is another job to be done. I decided early on I wanted to make Mary’s and my life easier. I chose to learn quickly so she had less to do with the boat as each day progressed. She could, then, focus on other tasks. By the end of the week, I was pretty much responsible for packing the raft for the day. Mary and I worked well together and made quite a team. I am proud to be called a swamper.  Next trip, if there is one,  I want to learn to row.

At the end of the floating day, my fun began. I set up my tent and took off exploring with my camera. We camped mainly on sand or rock bars on the non-National Park side of the river. Glacier National Park was our east river backdrop. Each day was a beautiful ride. There was always something interesting to explore. I found bear tracks, Sandhill Crane tracks, and we think, wolf tracks. Now how cool is that? One night I camped near a Spotted Sandpiper’s nest. We made good room-mates for a night. I felt honored.

 

I found that the moments of alone time, helped me balance living for a week with sixteen other people. For those of you who have been following my blog, you may recall that being around large groups of people has been an issue for me since Jim’s death from cancer. I enjoyed all of the people I traveled with for the week. It was interesting and fun to watch the group dynamics unfold. Please remember that the majority of this group had already been traveling together for about a week. Some of these folks have been traveling together for many years. They were like one big happy family with all their quirks and fun. I enjoyed getting to know all of them. I enjoyed the stories and laughter. It was fun to join in.

Beaver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I am back in Donnelly, Idaho. I am recovering. I am healing sun burned lips. I have an infection in my big toe. It has given me the opportunity to soak my foot and relax a little. It is a good time to write blog posts.✍🏻 Soak and Write.

I am getting to know the area I am staying in for the next month plus. I take long walks, am hoping to rent a kayak and explore the lakes. I am also catching up on some much needed chores. Daily chores do not go away just because I am leading a gypsy kind of life.

My closest lake.

Sunset not too far from my door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As this swamper rests and heals, I can look out the door at the mountains and get ready to hike. Life is an adventure I am glad to take on.