Note: This first page contains no pictures, just some introductory material about how this trip happened. If you want to skip this stuff and go straight to the pictures, click here.
In December of 2007, Terry and I had the vacation of a lifetime - a luxury train ride through the Canadian Rockies, bracketed by two nights each in two luxury hotels. How did this come about? Well, thereby hangs a tale...
There's an organization in West L.A. called the Center for the Partially Sighted. As you might guess, its focus is on helping people who are not totally blind, but have some amount of vision. In the course of her previous job, Terry would refer a lot of clients to this agency. So when they had a big fund-raising dinner last October, Terry and I were invited.
Now, this was the type of affair normally frequented by wealthy do-gooders. Terry and I were feeling a little out of place. True, we're Westside Bleeding Heart Liberal Democrats (and proud of it), but we're West L.A. Westside, not Bel Air Westside.
Anyway, as is common at this sort of shindig, they had a silent auction. Many of the items were out of our league altogether, but we did bid on a few items. I was the winning bidder on a glider ride, which my Mom and brother and sister and I gave our Dad for Christmas. And Terry scored a couple of nice necklaces.
Then, after dinner, they had a live auction. The items being auctioned here were vacation packages. The bidding on these started high and went higher, so I had no intention of bidding on anything. But my darling wife had other ideas.
You see, she was just about to change jobs, and had about three weeks of unused vacation days coming to her when she left her former job. I figured that her vacation check would be something between $2500-$3000. So when the auctioneer started pitching a trip to New York, Terry started telling me to bid on it, and when I protested that we couldn't afford it, she said yes we could, because of the vacation pay she'd be getting.
But I was still hesitant. I've been known to spend money recklessly in my time, but spending thousands of dollars at the drop of a hat doesn't come easily to me. I hesitated too long, and the New York trip went for $4000, which we couldn't have afforded anyway.
The next item up was the Rocky Mountain train trip. And again, Terry urged me to bid. And again, I hesitated. So Terry, giving up on me, raised her hand. Next thing I knew, the auctioneer was pointing at us and saying "You're going to Canada!" And a young woman with a big smile was coming over to collect my credit card.
And I sat there in shock, trying to wrap my head around the fact that in just a few seconds, with just a wave of the hand, we had just spent TWENTY FIVE HUNDRED FREAKIN' DOLLARS!
Well, after I caught my breath and got my heart rate under control, I realized that this was actually a good deal. For the $2500, we got a flight from LAX to Calgary, a motorcoach ride from Calgary to Banff, two nights at a VERY expensive hotel in Banff, a two day luxury train ride through the Rockies, two nights at another VERY expensive hotel in Vancouver, and a flight from Vancouver back to LAX. The total cost of this package, if we had to pay it all ourselves, would have way more than $2500.
Yes, it was a lot of money, but it was money that we had available to spend, and we got a vacation trip the likes of which we could never afford otherwise. So it worked out OK. But I must say that I'll always wonder if Terry would have been so quick to raise her hand if she hadn't been working on her fourth or fifth glass of wine at the time!
(By the way, the first person to point out that we could have put the money in the bank, instead of spending it all, gets a punch in the mouth. So don't point it out.)
As you read this log, you'll see this symbol scattered throughout: (w) . I've recently discovered Wikipedia, and those symbols are links to Wikipedia articles giving more in depth information about places we went and things we saw, for those who are interested.
Okay, that's enough rambling. Click here to start reading the actual trip log.