By P. Dale Ware
If you have a hard time thinking about what kind of vacation to take, you’re probably like me. My wife, Pat, and I always go around and around about taking a cruise, driving our own car, or taking a bus tour. This time a bus tour to Canada won. I’m glad we did it, but Pat says never again! She got tired of all the packing and regimentation.
Before we started the 11-day Trafalgar tour from Boston, Pat, Wendy, my daughter, and I took two extra days in that city to see all of the sights. That turned out to be a good decision and produced some very interesting shots of the Boston Common, open market areas, and historical locations.
During our brief stay in Boston, we stayed at the world famous Omni-Parker Hotel, which was built in the 1850’s and wonderfully maintained in its original style. After two marvelous days there, we traveled over 2500 miles to places like: Kennebunkport, Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor in Maine; King’s Landing, Fredericton, and Saint John in New Brunswick; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Fort Louisbourg, Sydney, and Cabot’s Trail, on Cape Breton Island; Halifax, Peggy’s Cove, Lunenburg, and Baddeck in Nova Scotia.
I think we saw more places than you can on a cruise in the same number of days. Plus, we probably covered more area than we could have if we’d been driving. The price tag was reasonable, and many of the meals, including all breakfasts and some dinners, were part of the package.
There was ample time to shoot pictures on the photo stops the tour bus took, and we rented a car in two separate locations. That allowed me to shoot where I wanted as long as we were back before bus departure time.
I totally enjoyed myself on these short photo jaunts, and I know that Wendy did, too.
We had a knowledgeable guide, a great driver, and met 49 very interesting people from all over the world. Unfortunately, a few of them had a respiratory infection, which spread throughout our group. Pat was one of those who came down with it.
That is one of the down sides of a bus tour. You’re in close touch with a large number of people, and if one is ill, everybody may come down with the malady.
I wanted to work with the digital format and with film, so I took along my Minolta Dimage 7 and my Nikon F-100. Having the F-100 allowed me to do some things with action that I couldn’t do as well with my digital camera. An extra camera on the trip also provided good backup.
Lenses for the F-100 included: a 24-85 mm lens; an 18-35 extra wide angle lens; a 2x Kenko teleconverter (I didn’t use); and an SB- 28 strobe.
Additionally, I carried a small Vanguard tripod with me most of the time. With its feather-like weight and handle, it was very easy to carry and a breeze to set up and break down quickly.
Pat bought a backpack with in-line skate wheels at Leather Town in the AV Mall for $30, which meant I could roll it in the air terminals and carry it up stairs when necessary. Inside it, I was able to fit two small photo bags with separator compartments -- one with my Dimage 7 in it and the other with the F-100. When I wanted to work with the digital camera, I pulled out the bag containing it, and left the other with the F100 and lenses in it behind, and visa versa. That procedure worked great, and saving all of that money on a more expensive rolling backpack ($300-$400) made me feel even better.
I was concerned about passing through security with the 65 rolls of film I had in my carry-on luggage, so I took all of my film out of the canisters and put them into clear plastic baggies, as advised. Getting a hand check of the film at LAX was no problem, but I had no such luck at Logan Airport in Boston on the return trip. I had to send everything through the carry-on baggage X-ray machines. The security people said that everything would be OK, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Would I take another bus tour in the near future? Sure. The trip gave me an opportunity to see a lot of different places in Northeastern Canada that I can go back and re-visit by car for longer periods. Also, the hospitality of the Canadians added to the overall pleasant experience.
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