Sunday, February 2, 2014

A short trial trip of sort

I have not posted anything in the longest of time. I do not know what happened to me, except perhaps I ran into a "do nothing" doldrum. I'm making an effort to get out of this doldrum. I have done quite a few travels last year but I have been too lazy to post them. In fact, I just realized that I am not even done posting the river cruise that I did in 2012! I'll complete that sooner or later. If I know myself as well as I do, probably later.

Last year, my wife and some friends planned another long road trip. This time covering Vegas, some interesting sites in Utah, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Mt. Rushmore and wherever else we feel like visiting on the go. I came up with the "bright idea" of just joining an organized tour run by an asian company which covered most of these places. The cost was dirt cheap compared to doing it ourselves or signing up with western operated companies like Caravan, Cosmos, etc. They said no way because it was so cheap it is probably not good and worse, not safe. I told them I'll go solo on one of the shorter trips and find out if asian tour companies are what they suspected they are. I booked myself for a short 3 day 2 night test trip to San Francisco, Monterey and Yosemite National Park, even though I have been to these places many times in the past.

The tour was OK. The tour group I was with were made up of mostly youngist tourists from Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hongkong, a few US and Canadian based asians and a trio of young girls from Europe and a guy from England. The cost is up a bit now to $120/ person, double occupancy. A third person in the same room is free. Single traveler pays a supplement. The hotels are very good but they are often located outside of the city. I am not sure if the company is running a charity or a business but I am not complaining.

 I do not know why our bus' name is Bravo Express. I booked my tour with Take Tours! Hmmm.

 Inside view of our bus

 One of our many stops in Monterey

 Up to a $1,000 fine if caught feeding a squirrel!

She asked me if I want a sample.....of the food! I said I'll just take her picture LOL.

Wine tasting is always a favorite with me even though beer and whiskey are my preferred poisons LOL.

This young computer engineer from Taiwan wanted to share my room so we could both save the $90 single supplement. He said he is traveling on a budget. I said fine with me as long as he does not snore like a diesel truck climbing a stiff hill.

One of the ugliest pic I have taken of the Golden Gate bridge over the years LOL.

Our trip coincided with the government shutdown (complement of the GOP) so we were not able to go to Yosemite National Park. The tour company substituted Napa and Silicon Valleys and a brief visit to Stanford U campus. This was a wine tasting visit at Napa. Cheers!

 This brit from Manchester had too much tasting with the wines LOL.

When my wife and I immigrated to the US in 1969, my plan B if things don't work out to our satisfaction was to go back to school, get an advance degree and return home. I had Stanford U in mind because almost all the college professors in my major got their doctorates there. I think Stanford had a different idea though LOL.

We were not going to attend a lecture, we were looking for a bathroom.

Our driver ignored the loading and unloading sign so he was "rewarded" with a $35 no parking ticket. Poor guy. The one in the photo was not the driver, he was the brit from Manchester taking a pic of a rock. I asked him if he was able to coax the rock to smile but I did not wait for his reply.

I separated from our group when we reached San Francisco to spend the day with my daughter who lives and works there so I did not have any pics in the city. I rejoined the tour on its way back to LA. It was a fun, cheap and safe trip. I'll probably do more trips with them or with another asian operated tour company (America Asia), if I can convinced my wife and our regular travel buddies to join me. Fat chance, I'll say!