March 2018 - Starr Tours & Charters
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Make Your Bus Trip Better with a Book

Make Your Bus Trip Better with a Book

While traveling around the country as a Tour Director on many of Starr’s bus vacations, I am always thrilled when I stumble upon historical fiction titles dealing with people, cultures, and events that showcase the places we are visiting.  Sometimes, I find a book while on tour as I did in Chicago. I purchased Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson in the gift shop of the Willis Building—the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.  It is a great read detailing the building of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair while unraveling a sinister killer luring young victims to his hotel.

Book recommendations from friends, tourism folks and fellow travelers rank high on my reading list.  So, I couldn’t pass up reading Follow the River” by James Alexander Thom after our local guide in West Virginia presented me her paperback copy on our last day in town.  A real page turner chronicling the capture of Mary Draper Ingles by the Shawnee Indians and her 1,000 mile journey on foot back to her family.  Having read multiple books by Sue Monk Kidd, I was happy to pick up The Invention of Wings” when I found out the plot centers in Charleston, SC—one of Starr’s best-selling bus tours!  It takes place at the beginning of the 19th Century when a young slave girl is given to a young wealthy girl as a birthday present.  Although their birthrights were significantly different, their loyalty propels them towards liberation and empowerment.  Then there is “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” by John Berendt.  This novel was on the New York Times Best Sellers List longer than any other non-fiction narrative.  The true story is traced to Savannah, GA. Starr passengers, while on a trolley tour, will stop in front of the infamous house where the murder of a well-known male prostitute took place.  Passengers can also see the famous Bird Girl Statue featured on the cover of the book and premiered in the movie of the same name at the Telfair Museum.

While doing my research for the Cross Country tour, there were two books that caught my attention.  I was intrigued by The 19th Wife” by David Ebershoff.  Expelled from the Mormon Church as an outcast after separating from Brigham Young, the Church’s leader, Ann Eliza Young, his 19th wife begins a crusade exposing polygamy in the United States.  While visiting Salt Lake City Utah, Starr passengers can stroll Temple Square, the entrance to the Church of the Latter Day Saints—the Mormon Church.  Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline takes the reader from Maine to Minnesota on trains carrying thousands of orphaned children from 1854-1929.  The premise of such a journey was to have children adopted into loving homes needing help on farms during the Westward Expansion.  Unfortunately, many children were adopted into a life of servitude and endured many hardships.

As this new travel season approaches, I am on the hunt for additional historical fiction titles that will expand my knowledge as well as enhance our bus tour guests’ travel experiences.  So, if you have any book suggestions for our upcoming Starr bus tours going to Dublin, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; or Block Island, Rhode Island, I’d love to add them to my reading list!  See you on the road and don’t forget to bring your favorite book with you on the bus!

 

Christine Durling,
Starr Tour Director

Great Expectations! (NOT written by Charles Dickens)

Everyone looks forward to a vacation and many of us expect that our travels will be absolutely perfect and without a care in the world. We envision the destination, often disregarding the journey required to reach it. While no amount of preparation, planning or detail-checking can ensure a seamless travel experience, here are a few tips to help you maximize your travel enjoyment:

 

Know where you are going. This may sound simple, but some people choose a destination without much thought, research, or investigation. This can lead to disappointment. For example, I once had a tour guest on a Vermont fall foliage bus tour who asked me, “When will we get to the casino?” I explained that there are no casinos in Vermont to which she responded, “Well, I can’t stand to look at any more trees!” Unfortunately, my passenger was not happy with her experience on the trip. In this case, the situation could have been avoided if she had simply read the itinerary.

 

Put down the camera. Once in a while, put down the camera and actually sightsee. You may think that taking a picture of that spectacular view, attraction, or sunset will preserve the moment forever. However, did you know a recent study found that people had more trouble remembering details of a scene if they photographed it? Those who just looked at it remembered 90% of the details; the ones who took a picture remembered only 78%.

 

Getting to know you! As society has become more fast-paced, and electronic equipment has taken over our communications, conversation between strangers has dwindled. But you never know who you may meet while traveling. On a recent bus tour, two couples reluctantly shared a table at lunchtime. During their conversation, the women discovered that they had been childhood friends, attended the same elementary school, and grew up in the same Philadelphia neighborhood! They had a wonderful time on the rest of the trip, reliving old memories and making new ones.

 

Expect the best; but prepare for the worst. Just because it is sunny on the morning your tour departs, that does not mean it cannot rain later. Basic essentials like an umbrella (I prefer disposable raincoats from the dollar store), sunscreen, a hat, bug spray, Band-Aids, aspirin, etc. are important items to pack and can easily prevent small annoyances from ruining your day.

 

Be flexible. While driving in Hawaii (before GPS was available), we missed a turn and ended up lost for quite some time. On the surface, this seemed like something “bad” had happened. But we ended up viewing the most beautiful scenery on Oahu’s northern coastline due to our unintentional detour. We all agreed it was the most breath-taking view of the entire trip!

Embrace optimism; it is your best travel companion! The definition of “optimism” – A cheerful frame of mind that enables a tea kettle to sing though it’s in hot water up to its nose!

 

Happy travels and I hope to see you on the bus this year!
Jane Peters Estes, Tour Director