In travel, as in life, tolerance for things going wrong or tolerance for worrying about things going wrong are closely connected with your goals. If things going wrong or things you are worrying about going wrong will sabotage you from achieving your high priority goals you are much more likely to let it bother you than if that were not the case.
So before I regale you with the story of Yolanda’s and my trip as promised (or perhaps threatened) here are my goals when I travel.
Six months after I return from the end of my vacations for me to say that they were the time of my life I would have:
- Spent more intense time with Yolanda than I do when we are at home.
- Seen old friends
- Have more time and better conditions to bicycle than I do at home.
- Had new insights or perspectives.
- Met new people
- Changed my routine.
Regarding Goal #4 at this point I have relatively little interest in visiting places I have never been to before. On the contrary I find it much more nourishing to return to places and see how they or my take on them has changed.
So in 2004 when Yolanda and I were spending the month of October in Manhattan, these were my goals when I thought about spending a few days in the Hudson Valley fall colors.
My first impulse was to do it on my own. Then I noticed an organized trip on the web. I’d never heard of the company, but I was impressed that not only was the last dinner at the restaurant of the Culinary Institute of America, but they claimed to have reserved the hard to get tables by the window that allows diners to watch what is going on in the kitchen.
Their promotional copy claimed that they could deliver the same quality as the large established bicycle tour companies because they were a one man operation and had very low overhead. That made me a little suspicious, but it was only 5 nights, and I’d always wanted to have a dinner with a window seat at CIA. Besides the price was right.
Amazingly enough the trip went off exactly as advertized. The only problem was that the owner who was also the guide was so obviously stressed out and straining (usually on his cell phone) to make sure everything went smoothly that we were literally amazed when it did. The only thing that the trip did not provide was peace of mind.
At first I thought that I was noticing it because of my trip operators perspective. Whenever I mentioned it to Yolanda she was quick to rightfully point out that I should not bring it up to the other participants who might not have noticed it. But by the middle of the second day other members of the group started to remark on it spontaneously.
By the end how the trip was organized was one of the main topics of conversation, though nothing concrete ever went wrong.
Would it have been worth it to pay the approximatley 25% more that a competently operated trip from one of the more established bike trip company’s would have cost? It depends on what you value and your budget. My recollection is that it would have been for about half of the participants. (Group size was around 12.)
Fortunately, having a seamlessly operated trip was not a high enough priority in anybody’s goal for this holiday to allow the fact that the operation was a little dicey ruin the trip.
In my case the situation was complicated. On the one hand,as the owner of the kind of high over-head company our leader was dissing on his web site, I felt smug every time the organizer’s incompetence showed through. On the other hand, every time I felt smug Yolanda told me to cool it.
Did the trip provide life-time memories? Several. I’ll share the most precious.
Pedaling along Yolanda said out of the blue, “I really love fall colors.” Getting a “really love,” out of Yolanda takes more than pretty colors, so when nothing more was forthcoming I asked why. “Because they show that death can be beautiful.”