Flowers & Fireworks in the Pacific Northwest

077 I recently had the pleasure of escorting a trip to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. These are two of my favorite destinations and I always look forward to going back. For many reasons, this particular trip was amazing. The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire six days. We met the “Queen of England” (I will explain later), saw deer and gray whales, enjoyed the beauty of Butchart Gardens, and was dazzled by an awesome firework show over Vancouver Harbor. There was also an unfortunate incident that involved me doing a dance called the Macarena (again, I will explain/ defend myself later on).

After arriving from Seattle to picturesque Victoria Harbor by ferry we enjoyed three very leisurely days in the city. Victoria is a great tourist destination and every sight is a near perfect picture. The hanging flower baskets, the architectural beauty of the Empress Hotel and British Columbia’s Provincial Parliament building fronting the harbor, and the chance to stroll along the waterfront are just some of the charms that keep me going back. We had a double-decker bus tour of the city and for the first time our group saw the elusive black-tailed deer and even happened to see a gray whale surface as we drove along the waterfront. (As the Tour Director I’d like to take credit for arranging these chance encounters, but luck and good fortune were on our side.)

I will take the credit for our group meeting the “Queen.” During high tea at the Empress, she “arrived” and taught us all the royal wave and how to properly stir our tea…never clink the tea spoon on the tea cup! Jess and Frances Mills celebrated their anniversary and Frances was presented with an exquisite 29¢ strand of plastic pearls from the Queen’s “personal collection.” Meeting her is always a treat. While teaching us proper tea time etiquette, she regales us with the latest gossip and scandals of the Royal Family. Oh, and even if you missed this trip, you won’t miss the Queen. For some reason, she always seems to be in town when we are. Amazing but true.

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Butchart Gardens is always a sensory experience. The gardens began in the remnants of an old rock quarry a century ago. Jenny Butchart began planting roses and now the garden is a maze of beauty with its Japanese gardens, English and Italian Rose Gardens, and the famous sunken garden that feels like walking through a postcard. My mom considers it a necessity that I get there once a year so I can provide her with seeds for her flowerbeds. I know not to come home empty-handed.

The last two days of the trip were spent in Vancouver. The city has such a unique feeling. Its downtown is dense and has the feeling of New York City mixed with Seattle, but on a much smaller scale. We were in town for The Festival of Lights, a competition where countries compete to dazzle the crowd of 20,000 or more people with elaborate firework displays. After a nice dinner cruise we had the luxury of watching Mexico’s presentation from the deck of our ship. The full moon and lights of the city made for a perfect backdrop for a perfect evening.

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Oh, about that Macarena incident…as the ship returned to the dock, a DJ was playing familiar classics, and this is where the night turned a little more lively. After singing along and dancing from our seats to the YMCA, I was dared by some of our ladies (Teri, Luanne, and Mary) to get on the floor and dance. We made a deal that if I danced they would join me. The DJ played the Macarena which has an accompanying dance. We got on the floor and after teaching everyone the moves we were all dancing when the entire catering staff of the ship joined us on the dance floor. It was one of the best times I have had with a group because everyone just let loose and had a great time. There were incriminating videos and pictures taken and I will pay dearly to keep them hidden!


This blog entry doesn’t even begin to capture all the incredible things we saw and experienced. I am including some pictures from our trip because, after all, pictures are worth a thousand words. If you have pictures to share or would like me to send you a picture that I took just email me at You can also check out these photos and more on our facebook page if that’s your sort of thing.  I love this trip and look forward to escorting another group to two of my favorite destinations next year. Come along with me, eh, and sip a cup of tea with the Queen…

Our July/August Newsletter is now live

Mark and some fellow travelers meet Yogi Berra, Clayton talks about new security measures with the TSA and Sports Leisure is preparing for this year’s Tour Preview Day!

Check it out for yourself over on our publications page, or rest assured your copy is in the mail!

Our 2010-11 Tour Preview Day is coming up on September 11th.  This year’s show will feature the Food & Folk Festival, tons of entertainment, and as always – your chance to get the coveted Tour Catalog before anyone else!

Space is limited, and tends to go quick, so be sure to reserve your spot over on our Registration page or by calling the office.