Friday, April 4, 2014

Top Ten Lists - Tours

Roger here....  This top ten list relives our favorite tours from the past five years.  The tours on the list all had tour guides.  As with the other top ten lists, we only considered tours we had been on since we began traveling in our motor home.  We obviously missed some great ones.  We still have not visited Canada, the Northeast, Montana, Nevada (in the motor home), and most of Idaho.

1.  Monument Valley, Utah

We spent a little extra money to have a Navajo guide drive us on the sandy roads through the back country of this Navajo park.  It was worth it.  Our guide showed us parts of the park that most people do not see.

The arches and domes were both massive and unique.  

The descriptions of the Navajo culture by our excellent guide made the tour even more special.

The inside of this particular domed "room" had an eye to the sky.  

Hey!  Is that John Wayne on that horse?

We have said this before, but it is worth repeating, the scenery in southern Utah rivals any in the country.

2.  Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

How the top one percent lived --- back in the day.

We reserved our tour in advance and waited with our friends, Jay and Nancy to board a bus at the visitor center at the bottom of the hill.  

We were transported from our middle-class lives into the lavish lifestyle of William Randolph Hearst.  Such a nice little place!

3.  Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Los Angeles, California.

Our daughter, Robyn, joined us on this tour near her current hometown.

We toured the back lot....

.... pretended to have coffee on the Friends coffee house set...

.... and caste spells on Dianne in the Hogworts Dining Hall.

Good times with Robyn.

4.  Portland Walking Tour, Portland, Oregon.

More good times... this time with our daughters, Robyn and Amanda, and our granddaughter, Kaia.  

What a progressive place this is.  We liked it!  Our tour guide spent a couple of hours guiding us through the city and explaining the wise and forward thinking people of Portland.  

The statue in the pictures shows how to stand out as a tourist in Portland by wearing a suit, and carrying an umbrella --- both no-nos for the locals.  Jeans and hoodies are preferred.  Umbrellas are frowned upon.

The statue, Portlandia, keeps track of the traffic on one of the city streets.  

Mount Hood provides a backdrop for the city on clear days.

5.  Antelope Canyon, Page, Arizona.

This place is a photographer's dream.  We caught a mid-day tour to catch the best light.  Our Navajo guide gave ongoing advice regarding the appropriate angles for taking the best pictures.  We took a lot of pictures.

This natural wonder can only be viewed with a Navajo guide.  I can now cross this off the list of the places I have always wanted to see.  

6.  Tabasco Factory Tour, Avery Island, Louisiana.

The smell of hot peppers permeated the air the instant we exited the car.  What a setting for a factory --- on a somewhat isolated island in a lush, jungle-like setting!  The factory was built on top of salt domes, salt being a key resource in the production of the sauce.

There is always a gift shop at the end of these tours.  This one was one of the best.  We need to go back soon since we have run out of all the spicy condiments that we bought that day.

7.  Santa Fe Trolley Tour,  Santa Fe, New Mexico.

All of the buildings in the expansive historic area are adobe by statute.

This culturally rich and artsy town is filled with statuary of all kinds.

 Dianne does not normally care for fancy jewelry, but she does like this handmade Navajo piece that I found on the central plaza.

8.  Bisbee Mine Tour, Bisbee, Arizona.

We were all decked out with hard hats and yellow jackets before....

.... hopping on the authentic miners' rail car that took us deep into the Queen Mine.  It was an interesting trip, but after several claustrophobic stops...

... I was ready to return to the warm Arizona sunshine and a visit to the...

... Old Bisbee Brewing Company.

9.  Spoetzl Brewery, the home of Shiner Bock.  Shiner, Texas.

Speaking of beer, get a load of these copper vats at the Shiner Brewing Company --- a classic small-town German brewery between Houston and San Antonio.

Everyone of appropriate age received a handful of wooden tokens redeemable for sampling all the Shiner Beers (before and after the tour).

Did I mention that the samples were served in the gift shop?  Hmmm.  I wonder why we purchased so many items?

10. (tie) Rogue Brewery, Newport, Oregon.

Wow, two brewery tours in a row!  Fortunately, they were spaced a year apart.  The Rogue Brewery was at one  time a small operation that has expanded world-wide.  It is a different place --- thus the name, Rogue.  It is not automated, as the owner prefers to hire people to do the work rather than machines.  Each bottle is touched by human hands.  The brewery has its own hop farm in the Willamette Valley.  

A banner in honor of the owner's black lab who had the run of the brewery keeps an eye on all the workers and visitors.  Oregon is a very dog-friendly state.

A restaurant and sampling room is located on the second floor of the factory.  Quite a selection of taps, wouldn't you say?

10.  (tie) Newmar Factory Tour,  Nappanee, Indiana.

Enough with the brewery tours!  We recently treated our coach (in the picture) to a makeover in the factory where it was assembled.

I took a tour of the factory.  There are no pictures (not allowed), but I must say that I was impressed.  Each coach is custom-made by order only.  The attention to detail during the assembly process reconfirmed our good decision to purchase our Mountainaire.

1 comment:

Bill and Nancy said...

You two sure covered a lot of territory in your first five years!!! Great list of tours!!