Naomi sat down with guide and group favorite, Will Puckett, to discuss a staff favorite, Yosemite and San Francisco.
Here's what they said:
Q. Please run us through what people could expect to do on their trip to San Francisco?
A. Well running through it is a great way to put it. Between all of the historical, cultural, sociological and geological areas to explore, the trip moves at a fast pace. However, there is enough variety that groups can pick and choose what interests them so it doesn't become overwhelming.
Q. Awesome. So What would you consider the highlights of the trip, for the teachers, the students and yourself?
A. The Bay area offers stunning vistas and many viewpoints where people can get a very tactile experience. The wind, the water, the lighting - all of it combined is very engaging. Often we become desensitized to our own environment, so it is a privilege when you get to experience it through the eyes of the guests.
Some of the specific highlights include whale watching, either from a boat or sometimes you can actually see humpbacks from the shore of SF, which is incredible. It's also very special to see an iconic cable car full of students zipping through the landscape of the City.
Q. The Bay really is amazing. One of my favorite parts is when groups also go to Yosemite, because then you get world-class culture and nature on the same trip. What is your favorite part of taking people to Yosemite?
A. One of the best parts about Yosemite, and the entire trip really, is seeing students realize how far they can go on their own. In San Francisco they are amazed by how tall the hills are, and that is absolutely dwarfed when you reach Yosemite. It is a wonderful feeling to be there with the students when they push through the Mist trail and finally reach the top. We share a sense of accomplishment along with a sandwich. :) I also enjoy bringing students back down the John Muir trail to give students a wholly different experience. As a teacher said about my tours, "There will be topography"! And often when we are immersed in the nature of Yosemite things can quiet down and lots of magic moments can occur.
Q. Those magic moments are so special and it's funny because we spend so much time making an itinerary, but it's usually those unscripted moments that people remember more than anything, right?
A. Absolutely. But it really takes both sides of the coin though. There is a huge amount of back-end planning that goes into making things run smoothly enough for the guides to be able to utilize opportunities to find even more magic.
Q. So sweet and so true. So, what are you most excited about for when groups are able to travel again?
A. Well my trips are pretty notorious for having lots of ice cream stops, and it's harder to justify doing that without my guests. :) But really it's being with people and learning from people from all walks of life. I miss the teachers and the students and all the relationships that have developed over the years. It greatly enriches my life and I hope that they are all hanging in there during this very trying time.