By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
I received a brochure from a company new to me, TAP Travel Alliance Partners Guaranteed Departures. In their catalog you’ll find a variety of safaris, rail journeys, and motorcoach adventures. I found some of their Guaranteed Departures rather unique. They offer itineraries that take a look behind the scenes, step off the beaten path, and make a way for you to be journeying on a road less traveled. You can go birding in New Jersey, attend the Baseball All- Star Game, ride Colorado trains and visit ghost towns, visit Yellowstone in winter, enjoy an “American Country Christmas,” attend the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, or take a “Brewery Tour Bavarian Style.” Here are just two of them:
THE BOB HOPE USO SHOW
A Virginia Beach SecTAPular Event
Your plane arrives in Norfolk (VA) where you’ll meet your tour director and transfer to your oceanfront Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Virginia Beach. That night, you’ll meet your fellow travelers at dinner in an oceanfront restaurant. In the afternoon, why not visit the Old Coast Guard Station with its interactive exhibit which will allow the visitor the same view of the ocean and beach that the Surfman had from the tower. For more information go to old email@example.com. Or, the Virginia Marine Science Museum, one of the top aquariums in the country with more than 800,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, over 300 hands-on exhibits, an outdoor aviary and a 1/3-mile nature walk.
After breakfast (included) you’ll board your motorcoach to travel to Norfolk for a tour of the US Naval Base with a US sailor as your tour guide. You’ll also visit the Nauticus, an interactive Maritime & Naval Museum and the USS Wisconsin, the last and largest battleship built by the US Navy. Your afternoon is free to relax or explore Virginia Beach. In the evening you’re invited to enjoy “New Jersey Nights, The Story of the Jersey Boys: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.”
After breakfast you’ll return to Norfolk to visit the MacArthur Memorial Museum and take a lunch cruise through the Norfolk Harbor. In the evening you’ll be entertained by a live tribute to the Big Bands of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Your included dinner is a candlelight seafood buffet. Ending your evening will be the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with their headline event: “The Sinatra Legacy,” a special live tribute to the music of Frank Sinatra.
After breakfast you will board your motorcoach for a Taste of the Farmer Market tour and continue on to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Museum where you’ll enjoy an IMAX movie followed by a selfexploration at the aquarium. After a lunch on your own you’ll arrive at the Virginia Beach Military Aviation Museum to visit hangars filled with aircraft from World War I and II. You’ll take a seat on the bleachers by the airfield for “Swingtime in the Skies.” An English double decker bus sporting a banner for the “Glen Miller Army Air Force Band” will drive up with “Bob Hope,” “The Andrews Sisters” and the entire “Glen Miller Band” all wearing World War II uniform waving to the airfield visitors. There will be narration on historic planes, music of the era and flyovers featuring both Tri- Planes and Bi-Planes. For dinner you’re being treated to a Southern Style Cookout in a hangar and King Neptune’s USO Show and a nostalgic “Thanks for the Memories” evening show.
After breakfast you’ll be transferred to the Norfolk Airport for your return flight home. Fare for this 5 day/4 night tour is $1,389 per person/ double occupancy.
CUSTER STATE PARK BUFFALO ROUNDUP
Each fall the buffalo (some 1,200 head) in Custer State Park are rounded up for the annual branding, sorting and vaccinating in an Old West tradition. You can witness this thrilling event with the 6 Day/6 Night TAP Guaranteed Departure holiday.
Fly into the Rapid City Regional Airport and transfer (included) to the Comfort Inn (or something similar), South Dakota. If you arrive early in the afternoon you might want to explore Memorial Park, a beautiful greenway with a rose garden, fountain pool, a meandering Rapid Creek, a section of the Berlin Wall and monuments honoring Rapid City’s veterans as well as victims of the 1972 flood. Or stroll through their downtown district and marvel at the statues of the presidents you’ll find throughout the district.
Your morning, after a continental breakfast, will be a visit to the Buffalo Roundup Arts Festival which offers entertainment, arts and crafts, and even buffalo burgers. You’ll also visit the Crazy Horse Memorial where Custer made his last stand. And, then, it’s on to Mount Rushmore, the Shrine to Democracy with the stone carvings of the four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. You arrive at the park and walk up a path lined with the flags of the 50 states and as you round a bend you’ll find yourself staring at this tribute to these leaders of our democracy. It’s an awesome sight! Dinner will be on your own and your tour director will have suggestions for the evening.
After an early breakfast you’ll board your motorcoach which will take you to the annual buffalo roundup at Custer State Park. You’ll be fascinated by watching them drive the herd into the Buffalo Corrals. After the herd is safely in the corrals you’ll see the park staff sort, brand, test and select certain animals for the fall sale held in November. After lunch on your own you’ll enjoy a ride on an 1880 steam train that’s been featured in many television shows and Hollywood movies.
Historic Deadwood is your destination for today. Here was the last great gold rush in the lower 48 states. And, the legends of Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, and Poker Alice were made here. You’ll tour Boot Hill and visit the gravesites of these characters that were larger than life. You might also learn, as I did, why they called it “Boot” Hill.
After breakfast you’ll begin your day with a visit to the Journey, an interactive collection of four previous museums with an outstanding gift shop. Then, South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Early explorers described it as “hell with the fires burned out.” The Badlands offer unique geologic beauty, Native American culture and, of course, the worldfamous Wall Drug. In case you haven’t heard about Wall Drug, it’s a sprawling tourist mall that occupies most of downtown Wall, South Dakota. It’s a roadside wonder off the Interstate 90 and has been featured on Good Morning America, People Magazine and even Better Homes and Gardens.
Bid farewell to your fellow vacationers and head for home. For the 6 days/5 nights your fare is $946 pp/dble occupancy. If you’re an individual looking to join a tour, a Tour Operator wanting to add to your offerings, a Travel Professional searching for a unique travel adventure or a group leader trying to avoid having to cancel another tour, take a look at the TAP Guaranteed Departures for 2012 and 2013. For more information or to receive a brochure consult your travel agent or me at firstname.lastname@example.org.