Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Suntrek Trip #2 - East Coast Adventure

Lafayette, CO - It's been about a week and a half since my last post, and in that time Suwei ran her third marathon here in Denver, we spent a weekend climbing with friends at Indian Creek in Utah, and I turned 41 (not necessarily in that order). I also managed to go through a few more photos.

This set comes from my second Suntrek tour, the East Coast Adventure. This time I was doing a standard Suntrek Tour. It was two weeks long and took us through the Northeast including Canada and New England. I had 13 passengers again, but this time they were from England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, and Austria (a much better mix). The trip also had a good mix of cities (Washington DC, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Boston, New York) and parks (Algonquin Provincial Park, Acadia National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore), with a little rain, fog, and mosquitoes mixed in here and there. According to my logs we traveled 4171 miles (6712 km). Here is a map of our route:

And here are some of the photos:

Pennsylvania: Abandoned Trailers in Gaines, Amish Buggy Ride in Lancaster, Camping in Gaines

Niagara Falls

Acadia National Park

The Old State House, Boston, MA

The Mayflower in Plymouth, MA and Kids Playing at Racepoint Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore.

Racepoint Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore

Whale Watching off of Cape Cod

Provincetown at Sunset

Thanks go out to Sietske, Laura, Florian, Karine, Els, Elena, Inmaculada, Martin, Susanne, Nils, Kate, Katie and Kate for making this another great trip. Of course, I want to acknowledge the mad skills of our master DJ, the whore of the front seat, Florian, who gave us our trip song (click the link below).

Also, while we are on the subject of music, I wanted to add a few songs from the Swedish Tour. There were a few songs that kept popping up that just cracked me up. Turns out they were all from the same guy, Swedish pop sensation, Gunther. I would have included this in the last post, but I had forgotten the name and lost my notes. Thanks go out to Henrik, who was able to re-educate me. Without further ado, I present Gunther!!!!

What make this even better is the Album Cover....

Here is another classic from Pleasureman that got a lot of play in the Swedish van:

And finally... here is the slide show with more pics:

Suntrek Trip #2 - East Coast Adventure

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Suntrek Trip #1 - STS Coast to Coast

Lafayette, CO - So, I've been home for a week now. Settling very well, thank you, into my usual patten of waking up, hitting the gym, smoothie, coffee, working on chores, avoiding chores, feeling guilty for not doing my leg exercises, doing a few leg exercises to excise the guilt, fixing Suwei a bit of lunch before she starves to death, working on photos, eating dinner, watching the Daily Show, and heading to bed. The result...more photos ready!

This set of photos are from my first tour. It was a 3-week, charter tour from Los Angeles to New York via a southern route. A good portion of Suntrek's business comes from charters, which are a little different than the standard brochure tours. Basically a charter is a custom made trip for a specific group. The group, in this case, was from STS, a company that organizes tours for European high school students looking to improve their language skills. So on July 6th, Ben Larson (another Suntrek leader) and I, headed out to LAX to find 23 Swedish students between the ages of 15 and 19, plus two chaperons... "Asian, Asian, Asian, Blond! Is that them? Nope. Asian, not sure, Blond! Nope." This went on for a while.

Although it took them awhile to make it through customs, we did manage to locate the entire group, get them back to the hotel, and get the pile of Suntrek release forms filled out before midnight. From there the trip was simple...put them in a van, drive them around the country, and make sure they have fun...easy! Here is what our route looked like:

View Larger Map

According to the commercial driver's log I kept in the van, we covered 5064 miles (8149 km) of the USA. Here are some of the photos:

The group just starting out in Santa Monica, CA.

Limo Ride in Vegas. For the limo Soundtrack, click the link below about 60 times. Which one of you guys was running the CD player?

A night out in Monument Valley, AZ

Anasazi ruins at Mesa Verde National Park, CO

Durango CO, Sante Fe NM, Roswell NM, Honey Island Swamp LA, Carlsbad NM, Wytheville VA, & Washington D.C.

There are more photos and stories in the slide show. Just click the link below. In the meantime here's a song from my collection, that reminds me of this trip. Music appreciation hour students!

Suntrek Trip #1 - STS Coast to Coast

Friday, October 9, 2009

Suntrek Training

Lafayette, CO - Sorry guys it's been a while. I had all these great intentions of blogging on the road this summer but alas... it didn't work out. Turns out the Suntrek job took up a hell of a lot more time than I expected. I did, however, take a good deal of photos while farting around the country. Hopefully a few of them will be worth showing. I'm just starting to mull through them now.

Anyway, I'm now back in Colorado, back with Suwei, and ready for winter to swoop in and cover the hills with lovely white stuff (It's due to snow again tomorrow). For this post we have to back up all the way to June. Suwei and I wrapped up the annual canoe trip, hung out in the bay area for about a week, then on the 15th, Suwei flew home and I headed to Santa Rosa for my first day at Suntrek.

For those of fully out of the loop, I took a job this summer with Suntrek Tours as a trek leader doing adventure camping tours around the USA. My first 3 weeks there actually involved an unpaid sort of trek leader boot camp where we learned to clean vans, fix stoves, wash tents and yes... be a better trek leader. To be fair part of that time was spent obtaining a California commercial driver's license, learning to maneuver a 13ft van pulling an 8ft trailer, and enduring 11 days as a passenger on a training trek. That trek is where we start with this post.

Stretching our legs somewhere along the California Coast on Day 2 of our training trek.
To get a sense about what it is like on a trek, Suntrek requires that all (well most) trainees go on a training trek. So, I and the 10 other Suntrekers in training piled into an unmarked van for 11 days on a simulated tour of the Southwest. We each took turns driving, being a tour guide, and loading and unloading the trailer. The rest of the time was spent experiencing what life is like for a passenger (hint don't sit in the far back, left seat unless you particularly like being trapped in small confined spaces.) The tour took us from San Francisco down through Los Angeles, San Diego, over to Joshua Tree, Lake Havasu, the Grand Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite and back to Santa Rosa. It definitely wasn't all work, but it wasn't all that much fun either. There was a lot of van time, but to be honest... it was probably the most useful portion of the training. Here are some of the photos.

Our training group from bottom right: Kate, Diane, John, Evan, Mike, Mike, Andrew, Julien (our trainer), Greg, Jeff, and Brian.

A few of our destinations: Mission Beach San Diego, Venice Beach, The Grand Canyon, Lake Havasu, Yosemite, Lake Powell and Zion National Park.

Fellow future Suntrekkers: Mike at Horseshoe Bend AZ, Brian at Lake Powell UT, Diane at Easton's Ranch UT, Jeff in Death Valley CA, Greg in Zion National Park UT, John at the Grand Canyon AZ, and finally Julien, our trek leader working hard at the SnowCap in Seligman, AZ.

Click on the link below and check out the slideshow for more pics and info.

Suntrek Training Trek