August 28, 2021 –
In 2018, we started talking about visiting the western National Parks. Though we knew we could drive out west and go to them on our own, after some research on tour companies, we decided we would book the 15-day National Parks tour with Globus Tours.
We knew we would be on their schedule and would not get in-depth time in the parks, but we hoped it would be a good way to see a number of parks and leave the driving and logistics to someone else. We just wanted to be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery and the planned excursions. If we fall in love with any or all of the parks, maybe we will then drive directly to them to spend more time in the future. For this trip, I am especially excited to see Mount Rushmore.
We finally stopped talking about it and actually booked the trip in 2019 for a May 2020 departure. Of course, COVID cancelled that trip. Eternally optimistic, we rescheduled for September 2020. Nope – no tour for you! At that point, we just accepted the letter of credit for a future tour and the bonus money they offered. We just didn’t know when we would be able to use it or what tour might be available.
2021 – We were happy to see that Globus was once again scheduling tours. We rolled the dice and booked the same National Parks tour for late August/early September. Ever since then, I have continued to scan my emails just waiting for the “Dear Valued Customer” letter cancelling the tour. But no letter came and we eventually made the final payment. Westward Ho!
Flight to Vegas was booked with airline miles. Since the flights are 3 seats across and the airlines have started filling the middle seats again, we decided to each book an aisle seat in rows across from each other. Since the flight is relatively short and early, we didn’t think we would be sleeping so a window seat was not really necessary. For longer flights, Chuck usually has a window seat to nap, and I lean on him to nap.
Got our airport hotel room booked. When we have an early flight, I want to be able to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before the flight, so I don’t stress about the traffic getting to the airport that morning. I was able to use hotel points to get this hotel so that was a bonus.
We also contacted Globus and booked an extra night at Treasure Island. I guess I am treating this trip like a cruise. I want to get there at least one day before embarkation in case there are any flight delays. I don’t want to miss the boat – or bus in this case.
I signed us up for CLEAR which advertises that it helps you get through the airport lines quicker whether you have TSA pre-check or not. I have completed everything I could on-line. We have to finish up the enrollment process when we get to the airport. I hope the hype is worth it. I have been a little uneasy at seeing pictures of the long lines at the different airports.
I downloaded the Globus app. It is supposed to give us our daily travel information and tips on places to eat, see, etc during our free time at the stops. It will be nice if it works.
Packing has been a challenge. We are allowed one checked bag and one backpack each for this tour. According to hotel websites, there will be opportunities for laundry at the different hotels. I just hope there is time and that machines will be available. The days are predicted to be hot, but the nights will be cool. Going with layers and hoping for the best. Of course, the weight of each checked bag must be no more than 50 pounds so there has been a lot of packing and repacking. Guess I will find out how many days I can wear jeans before they need washing.
We leave tomorrow to catch our transportation to the airport hotel. Will I sleep well tonight? Probably not. If past trips are any indication, I will wake up numerous times with different worries going through my mind. Wish me luck.