On our first night of the tour, when everyone in the room introduced themselves, a man named Paul stood up and said, “This is my second Trafalgar tour and the best part of the first one was the people I met on the trip.” Others who had traveled with Trafalgar (many of my companions are on their 6th or 7th trips with the company) completely agreed and, after just a couple of days, I do, too.
There’s Jenny and John, the lovely Australians who first made their presence known when John hit his head on the lowered TV every time he stood up or sat down on the bus. There’s Dave’s crew (the first man to introduce himself the night of our meet-and-greet): his wife, Nancy, and friends, Jack and Carol. They’re best of friends and travel companions – Dave and Jack worked together in Buffalo, New York before retiring together to Sarasota, Florida. There’s Sandy and her husband – Sandy was one of the first people to greet me and ask more about my recent graduation, which I really appreciated. She and I have since bonded over my iPad, she received one as a retirement present, and a love of cooking blogs. There’s Bill, who I mentioned yesterday, the celebrity of the trip. It’s not every day that a 96 year old man travels on his own like this, and everyone has made him feel like a hero by getting their picture taken together.
And then…there’s Don, a Londoner traveling solo who simply cannot meet a stranger. With a quirky, quick sense of humor and bright, charismatic personality, he’s a spitfire of an individual. My family and I have instantly clicked with Don – if it wasn’t for his British accent, I’d swear he was a long lost relative (I guess he still could be, despite the accent…). No matter what the situation, Don has a funny quip to add. We passed him today on our walk into town, where he jokingly fought the strong wind back to the hotel. “It only took me twenty minutes to walk there, but it’s taken me an hour to come back – I’ve tried crossing this road twice now!” he said, faking the struggle of falling backwards into the road.
When we spoke with him yesterday about his upcoming trip on the Rocky Mountaineer (Gold Leaf service – he’s going to have such a fun time!), he told us more about his background. This trip has been his lifelong dream for years; it’s at the very top of his bucket list. He lit up when he spoke of his two daughters and his grandchildren, mentioning his hesitations in taking the trip for so long. “I didn’t want to spend their inheritance,” he said, earnestly, “but they kept saying, ‘Dad, we don’t want you to miss out on your dream because of us’. So here I am!” And he’s having the time of his life – every photo op and scenic viewpoint, every funny conversation, every minute that can possibly be enjoyed on this trip, Don is enjoying to the fullest.
Whether he knows it or not, we’ve decided to adopt him into our family, as long as his family will share.