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.

 

And the Adventure Continues

As I reflect on this past month of travel there is so much I appreciate about it. I am glad that I am still in good physical, mental and emotional shape to take on adventures near and far. I am thankful for my strength and agility. It is good to still be able to lift some weight and climb those trails.

After my week in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park, Mary and I continued our adventure in southern Utah. One thing I have learned from being a Tour Manager/Tour Guide, it that it is good to have a knowledgable guide with you. It enhances a trip. I was fortunate to have Mary as my guide. She had been to most of the places we explored before. All I had to do was follow where she led.

Now this could have been bad if she was not aware and respectful of the limitations of my Roadtrek. I did not have to worry about it and she never took me and EmmyLou, my rig anywhere that I could have gotten in trouble. A few times we left the RT safely parked at a visitors center and 4-wheeled it to trailheads in Mary’s handy truck, Sparklett.

A view from our campsite in Canyonlands, the Needles

We spent time in another section of Canyonlands, known at “The Needles”. Often, the campgrounds in the National Parks are full, yet right outside the park boundaries one can often find dispersed camping on BLM land or in the National Forest. Here is what is nice about this camping.

  • It is free. There are no hookups or water but if a person can be self contained it is a darn good deal.
  • You don’t have to park near anyone else. I love this kind of camping best. It is quiet. There are no neighbors who are playing loud music or arguing.
  • It is free.
  • The views are usually incredible.
  • The night skies are amazing.
  • It is free.

Mary and I hiked into areas that she had not seen in quite some time. One was Paul Bunyan’s Potty, an arch that looks more like a toilet seat.  We planned to hike further but those dark clouds on the horizon made us think of flash floods so we turned around, all too soon to save ourselves and Sparklett. It is never, ever good to be caught in a flash flood. Just saying.

We left Canyonlands behind and headed west. A little known fact about Janet Arnold. I love ferry boats. When Mary suggested we drive to Hite Marina on Lake Powell and take the Ferry across a section of the lake, I was all for it. Before we got to the ferry  we camped in Valley of the Gods (north of Monument Valley). Another BLM property. After doing the 17 mile dirt road drive through this area we climbed the Dugways, cool switchbacks with magnificent views and arrived at the ferry around noon.

Valley of the Gods

The Dugways

The Ferry

Lake Powell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a beautiful sunny fall afternoon we crossed Lake Powell and began our drive on the Burr Trail. What an amazing ride. We found one of the best campsites of the trip, totally isolated, cedar trees in place and the best part was a wood slatted board. With the help of our mats and my heated outdoor shower we were able to clean up. There was no one to see us. Another BLM site.

rounding up the wagons

And, you know what I like about those sites? They are free.

The following day we traveled the rest of the Burr Trail-more switchbacks through amazing country to arrive in the town of Escalante. These little towns are truly in the middle of nowhere. This town was of interest because of my friend Therese, you can read about her in earlier posts. She is a member of the Universal Unitarian Church. Two of the members of her congregation live part time in a beautiful home in this town of approximately 800. There was an art festival in town. As I wandered through the community I walked into a pop-up art gallery and the next thing I knew I was driven to meet Bob who lives in San Diego part time and makes incredible loaves of bread when he is in Escalante. It was fun. The bread was out of this world delicious.

Riding the Burr Trail

 

After spending some of our hard saved money (BLM sites) we splurged on a hotel room for a night to get out of the cold and the rain. It is sometimes good to regroup. Someone said to me once that it is not giving up, you are just regrouping. On a cold and rainy night it was good to sleep in a warm and cozy bed at the Prospector’s Inn.

Mary and I continued on towards Kanab, stopping to hike Willis Canyon. Another little known fact about me-I love slot canyons. So does Mary. This is a wonderful little slot canyon in Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. I love slots because it never ceases to amaze me that water, wind, erosion and gravity created these special places over geological time. It also reminds me that my life is just a speck of time on this planet. It is humbling.

We meandered the slot for a greater part of the day before we headed into Kanab to driveway boondock in Mary’s  friends driveway.  And here is will I leave you on this post. There will be one more in this series. I want to dedicate the last part of this back country adventure to it’s own page. I believe you will see why when I post next.

Today I am so grateful of the experiences I have had over the past month. I love seeing places of such beauty and peace. Nature has always been a very healing place for me. It clears my mind of all the “stuff” and helps me to gain clarity. I am thankful today for all those open spaces that allow me and others to get clear once again. Knowing that these places exist help me to live in the more urban areas for periods of time before I venture out into the outback once again.