Being a Tauck Traveler,
Great Solo & With a Companion
Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Solo Travel
Kathy Colmorgen has traveled with Tauck since the early 1990s, after a scheduled trip to the southwest U.S, with another tour company, was cancelled. With her heart set on the Southwest, she decided to give Tauck’s America’s Canyonlands a try, and 18 tours later, hasn’t looked back since.
What she likes about traveling with Tauck is “staying in nice places that I couldn’t afford on my own,” not being held to restrictive dining choices – and when traveling solo, “always feeling comfortable and included.” However, Kathy is not traveling solo these days.
She met a great travel companion, Gail Spielberger, on Tauck’s New Mexico – Land of Enchantment. As one of several women traveling on their own on the trip, they enjoyed one another’s company when it came time for meals. But when it came time to board the Sandia Peak Tramway, climbing nearly 10,400 ft. straight up above the Rio Grande Valley, Kathy realized that Gail was struggling with a fear of heights. Kathy asked Gail if she really wanted to go and the answer was yes. Being taller, Kathy helped keep Gail from looking down – “I got her to the top and back down,” says Kathy, and a friendship was sparked.
The two began emailing after the trip and eventually agreed to reunite as travel companions with a Tauck tour to Alaska. “We did not really know each other well,” so they agreed to share a room but to feel free to do their own thing on tour. “But,” Kathy says, “everywhere we went, we kept running into each other because we shared so many interests.”
Kathy and Gail have just booked their 11th Tauck trip together. Both are retired public school teachers – one from New Jersey, the other from New York – and after 37 years in elementary education, Kathy says she is “having a ball” traveling as a retiree.
As travel companions, they journeyed to Iceland this summer, a country Kathy found “a little like Alaska, Yellowstone and Hawaii,” given the geysers, glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs. “But it’s also very different and the language is so different, even if everyone speaks English.” She came away impressed by Icelanders’ stoic attitude towards the volcanoes that can threaten their skies and homes. “They are prepared to leave,” Kathy says. In 1973, a volcano on Heimaey Island buried a third of the nearby town
and in 2010, “E15”, so named because Eyjafjalljökull is simply too
difficult for the rest of world to pronounce, erupted, sending ash
flying and severely disrupting air travel across northern Europe for a
Kathy enjoyed learning that it is the norm for Icelandic teenagers to work in summer, a tradition that carries over to the country’s history of farming and fisheries; extra hands were always needed in the warmer months. Today, Icelandic teens work in restaurants, post offices, caring for farm animals, planting flowers and in the tourist industry, which is where she met teens performing traditional dances and handing out pieces of lava. “Having something to do” in the summer months is definitely a positive for this former teacher.
She found Icelanders proud that Leif Erikson, an Icelandic explorer, visited North America some 500 years before Christopher Columbus. And after returning home, she found herself needing to get used to the evening’s darkness in New Jersey – a contrast to Iceland’s nearly unlimited summer daylight.
Finally, as past Tauck travelers, Kathy and Gail took advantage of Tauck’s 2012 Gift of Time to enjoy extra time in Reykjavik. The two avid travel companions explored the city by hopping on and off a city bus, trying fish and chips in a local restaurant, and visiting an historic church and the base of the E15 volcano – all interesting experiences they might have missed without the extra time.
Traveling with other people, and learning from local guides and experts makes the experience so much better than traveling on her own for Kathy – that, and “staring eyeball to eyeball with a polar bear” on Tauck’s Manitoba: Polar Bear Adventure, an experience these travel companions will never forget!