Inflicting the fear of a little homelessness on a paying customer…

Back in the 1970s as a tour guide, I drove 50 or 60 people in little minibuses around Europe with a passion for getting my travelers beyond their comfort zones. It’s fun to look back on the crudeness of my techniques. Today we have the same goals, but pursue them more maturely, gracefully, and effectively — for which the over 10,000 who join us annually can be thankful.

As a 25-year-old hippie-backpacker-turned-tour-organizer, I had this misguided notion that soft and spoiled American travelers would benefit from a little hardship. In retrospect, I was pretty cruel. I’d run tours with no hotel reservations and observe the irony of my tour members (who I cynically thought were unconcerned about homelessness issues in their own communities) being so nervous at the prospect of being homeless for a night. If, by mid-afternoon, I hadn’t arranged for a hotel, they couldn’t focus on my guided town walks. Believing they’d be more empathetic with people who never have a real bed, I thought it might be constructive to let my travelers feel the anxiety of the real possibility of no roof over their heads that night.

I remember booking a group into a horrible hotel above a sleazy bar thinking that would put what I considered petty complaints about hotels in perspective. Seeing a woman from my tour group shivering with fear on top of her threadbare sheets at the threat of bugs, I felt triumphant.

Back when I was almost always younger than anyone on my tour, I made my groups sleep in Munich’s huge hippie circus tent. With simple mattresses on a wooden floor and 400 roommates, it was like a cross between Woodstock and a slumber party. One night I was stirred out of my sleep by a woman sitting up and sobbing. With the sound of backpackers rutting in the distance, she whispered, apologetically, “Rick, I’m not taking this so very well.” I gave her some valium — which was about all I had in my “first aid kit” — and she got through the night.

Of course, I eventually learned that this was the wrong approach and you can’t just force people into a rough situation and expect it to be constructive. Today, after learning from 30 years of feedback from our tour members and the experience of our team of guides, I am still driven to get people out of their comfort zones and into the real world with the help of our tours. But we do it in a way that keeps our travelers coming back for more. (Yesterday my tour sales director told me our sales for 2009 are holding, but only because more than half of those signing up are return travelers.)

For me, seeing towering stacks of wood in Belfast destined to be anti-Catholic bonfires and talking with locals about sectarian hatred helps make a trip to Ireland meaningful. Taking groups to Turkey during the Iraq wars has helped me share a Muslim perspective on that conflict. And visiting a concentration camp memorial is a required element of any trip we lead through Germany.

As a tour guide, I always made a point to follow up these harsh and perplexing experiences with a “reflections time” when I tried only to facilitate the discussion and let tour members share and sort out their feelings and observations. I’ve learned that, even with the comfortable refuge of a good hotel, you can choose to travel to complicated places and have a rich experience. (And when our tour members complain about something, I can’t help but think back on what we used to inflict on our paying customers.)

Comments

56 Replies to “Inflicting the fear of a little homelessness on a paying customer…”

  1. Rick you are the very best at what you do, concerning travel. I am pleased to see that you are more accommodating to your aging travelers need for creature comforts though. Even with the resurgence of bed bugs, which always makes for a more interesting tale when back home. I believe your greatest talent is not in political rhetoric but in finding and employing the very best people for leading your tours. We have never been too disappointed by any one of them. Your tour philosophy, while not for everyone, fits us perfectly. I would like to suggest that during your next trip to Georgetown you take a short Amtrack ride and spend an extra couple of days to visit Colonial Williamsburg. You may find something there you can actually admire about the USA.

  2. Rick, You have about the worst mean streak I have ever observed. The more I come to know about you, the less I like you.

  3. Rick I have read all your books a million times with the story of your earlier tour days. And this is not the story that you tell and the one in the book is far more believable. So you are either a pathological liar, have a brain tumor making you do and say crazy things that you truly believe right now or you are a mean horrid man. I do not believe for one minute you were shaping peoples consciousness but rather as you say in your books. And valium, where did you get it and why were you carrying it and why were you giving drugs to people are you a licensed physician. Do you share all your drugs. I have been on your tours and your guides are very careful to make everyone feel comfortable so that they have a great tour and come back and spend lots more money on another.The only tour that worries me is the Russia one where you could with Russia’s feelings about us rightnow be putting people in danger. Your blog has opened a window to your inner soul that few people want to see. Seek help from a professional.

  4. Yikes….Shouldn’t you delight your customers? I can’t imagine many of those early pioneers ever came back as repeat customers. I call BS on this Blog entry.

  5. Rick……………….. I have been to Europe many times and have my favourite places to visit.….….… Typically I visit of the same places on each trip and mix in some new ones………..the new ones are ones that stretch my comfort zone and they do that…………..the stress level may increase at first but the learning and colour of the trip is increased………………my next trip I would like to add Istanbul based on your new information……………in past trips I added Warsaw, Prague, Krakow and Oslo for example…….I agree that it is very good to extend that zone so I always do………..I enjoy my favourites also such as Berlin where I feel like I am visiting an old home and old friends again……………..that I see each visit running your recom’d hotels…………..the new places liven up the trip and bring the sense of newness and fear (sometimes) of travelling independently in a place far from home……..good post Rick…..

  6. Rick, Your story is impressive. It’s one thing to be able to be flexible, but putting both feet behind your head is something else. I love your travel philosophy, and now as I lead trips of my own I take many of the same principles of guiding fellow travelers to a situation that stretches their travel experience, while also and enhancing it. Thanks Rick.

  7. My wife and I have very different ideas about traveling. Me (age 68) prefers the backpack, lets just go and see what happens, grab a place to sleep if we can find one (or sleep in the park), and wander freely. My wife (age 62) now wants a good hotel, preplanned activities, comfort, safety, and friendly folks. So, we do both – I put up with her rather boring trips so that I can add more stamps in my passport to countries and places she has no interest or desire to see. There must be a deep seated psychological quirk within each of us that sparks our traveling wanderlust, or lack thereof.

  8. Oh for crying out loud! Does no one remember the 60’s and the 70’s? I do..that’s when youthful excess was practiced by my generation…many of us wanted to ‘get back to the land’, drugs were rampant (and Valium was a freely prescribed drug in contrast to all the illegal ones), the simpler life was admired and practiced. We all did goofy things, the difference is Rick writes about it in a humorous way. I spent most of that time training for a profession but plenty happened around school. Lighten up!

  9. That just sounds mean spirited. I don’t stay at the Ritz, but I learned (from my European mother!) to be a good host and care about the comfort of my guests.

  10. tour guide I am with you I call BS on this blog. Having also read the books , seen the videos and been to the lectures this is totally different from what was portrayed in those. I remember the Europe through the Gutter story but never anything about abusing the people that went on your earlier tours. In fact you said you screened them for their ruggedness and willingness to explore. Are you trying to sink your tour business? What do your partners think about what you are saying and doing on this blog…I am sure your tour director is not happy about this type of nonsense.

  11. Why is it that American’s are appalled at even the idea of spending one night (no doubt in better conditions)than 90% of the world’s population spend their entire lives? A few hours of HARDSHIP is an eye opening experience all American’s should encounter at some point in their ridiculous fairytale lives.

  12. Because Peggy he charges almost 5 thousand dollars for this ….if it was free and you wanted to be part of the Amazing Adventure or Survivor that would be differnt. But if I am plunking down almost 10k for my husband and I to travel I would have sued if he did something like the above to me. I spent 16 years in higher education NOT to have to spend a night in a hardship position.

  13. Rick: What were you smoking? Skip it, I know. Some things are better left unsaid and this was one. We all change with time, but you apparently used to be one mean and sadistic sonofagun. The more things like this that you confess, the more people you are going to drive out of your fold. I used to be a big fan of yours, but you have seriously tainted my admiration as of late…and it has nothing to do with all of the political rhetoric on your blog because, like you, I was an Obama-backer. Really Rick, come down from the clouds and get a grip.

  14. Hillarious, you send your kids to schools that cost over 100K a year for you to pay when they can go to free universities and you talk about the homeless. How about taking that money and spreading it around to the homeless, in fact I don’t believe you ever talk about giving to any charities. Baby if you are going to talk the talk then walk the walk. Let’s just spit ball here, if you charge 5,000 dollars per person on a BOE tour time 26 people that is 130,000 that you take in from the tour before your expenses. How about taking one tours worth of money and give it to the homeless shelter in Seattle?? That’s just one tour and that money would go a long way and then if you take the kids out of their priviledged school that is another 100,000 a year so you could be giving 250,000 a year to the Seattle homeless. But you know what you won’t because you won’t even pay your employees for their vacations. When it comes out of your pocket it is a different story. Thanks for the heads up so that we won’t be signing up for any tours soon.

  15. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, and apparently so has Rick, is that you can’t “teach people a lesson.” We’ve been on several of Rick’s tours and they have come a long way from the bathroom-down-the-hall and primitive experiences of (for example)Walter’s in Switzerland. We came back to Rick in spite of those discomforts, not because of them. And just to be fair, I have read that Rick bought an entire building in Seattle and converted it into a women’s shelter, so he does put his money where his mouth is.

  16. Mart Rose, I was not suggesting that one should spend five thousand dollars to sleep in the park only that living in realative luxury is not how most people live and maybe it would be a good thing for Americans to understand that.

  17. Some of you might want to go to “About Rick Steves” on the Home Page, then “Social Activism” and read “How and Why Rick Steves is Using his Retirement Nest Egg to House Homeless Mothers & their Children. Before you accuse someone of something, you might want to know a little more about the person.

  18. Rick – loved this blog! You are a great story teller – come on folks – take this for what it is! Seriously. Alot of you complain when there is no blog posted – and then complain when he does post one …. Personally – I can’t wait to take a RS Tour – what an adventure it will be! Not everyone feels the need to brag about their generosity ….

  19. While none of us knows ‘exactly’ what Rick’s thought process is regarding this entry, my guess is that he’s taken a real situation from the past, and now that he’s so full of himself to the point of ‘enlightening’ us, he’s decided that he was teaching a ‘lesson’ back then. But only he really knows!

  20. Lighten up, everyone. I found this post hilarious — if I were on your tour I probably would have found it mildly amusing as well, especially after I got home. While an up front notice would’ve been more polite, I still wouldn’t call it “mean”.

  21. Reagan: Look, I’ve made a personal decision/choice that Rick has “jumped the shark” on so many levels the past couple of years, that I’ve decided to go to his website for what brought me to him originally: his sage travel advice. For that, he rocks! However, what’s fair is fair & we have to give the man his due. He does some remarkable things charity wise. For instance, he has that home in Seattle for homeless and battered women, and he does (I believe) gratis work for the Lutheran Church. Just thought you should be aware of that. Like all of us, he has traits and beliefs that we can agree and disagree about. You must have been interested in him originally for travel issues. Why not focus on that and skip any blogs on anything remotely realted to anything else that irritates you. That’s what I’m going to do from this moment on. Just a suggestion.

  22. I can only shake my head and wonder why some of you continue to read this blog … Although I do get a chuckle and can’t believe some of you post such rude comments. Can only imagine what Rick and his staff think of them – and hope he does not take them to heart and considers the source.

  23. Rick, I used to like you, but now I hate you. Maybe in the future, I’ll like you again. Guys, listen to yourselves…have many faces do you have?? Rick tells a story of when he was a rookie tour operator, and now “we” feel he’s been hiding skeletons in his closet and is no longer the “Rick we used to know and respect.” Please, someone get me a Gravol….Let rational and mature thinking come before childish emotional reaction. Can I make that the “Rule of the Day”, please ?

  24. ….Rick, this is one of the funniest posts I’ve read from you to date! Imagine, there is the Soup Nazi, and then there is the Tour Naz…just kidding! This is obviously a blast from the past, well before you had refined your tour offerings to what they are today. Quite an achievement, I’d say.

  25. …ok, last post guys, honest. Rick, don’t know where to post this, but just wanted to say that I also enjoy your weekly podcasts (the live radio signal doesn’t quite make its way here to Ottawa, Ontario). Radio show, and a blog, and a TV series, and travel book research, and speeches,….you’re an absolute work horse !!

  26. To elaborate on the comments in a few of the other posts, Rick does indeed “walk the walk”. According to a KIRO News report, Rick purchased an apartment building in the Seattle area using *his own funds* (the cost was described as more than $1M). The building was reportedly renovated as well. This was to be managed by the YWCA and used by single mothers (possibly rent-free, I’d have to check the story again) who are struggling to get their lives back on track. Anyone that watches his PBS shows will also be aware that he’s involved in the “Bread For The World” program. I’m suspect there are other charities that he supports. I don’t feel it’s fair or ethical to criticise Rick (see earlier posts) for giving his children a “helping hand” to attend prestigious Universities. They will have to do all the work in maintaining grades in order to remain there. I’m sure he’s worked hard to make a living, and is only doing what many other parents have done. I’ve also helped my children finanacially as they work to establish a foundation in life with their careers (as much as my income level allows). My children didn’t choose a path that involved University, but that was their choice. I also contribute to charity to the best of my financial ability. NONE of the content of this Blog will dissuade me from taking further RS Tours or buying his Guidebooks. I feel the tours been EXCELLENT value despite the slightly higher cost than some of the other “mainstream” tours, and his Guides have been outstanding! The experiences I’ve had on the tours have been some of my best travel memories.

  27. It’s obvious that Rick is laughing ruefully at the idiot he was in his youth, and at the trials he put his customers thru back then. We all (or some of us, anyway) grow in maturity, grace, and efficiency as we age. Rick is laughing at himself and inviting his readers to laugh along with him. From some of these comments, it is clear that many do not understand this.

  28. If Rick was saying what a jerk he was to act that way then I apologize because I took this to mean, as did others, that he was trying to teach people a lesson without their consent or agreement to this experiment. My understanding of the battered women shelter is he bought the property but it is not being renovated by him but another entity and he is leasing it for x amount of years to be returned to him at about his retirement age. This way he can take it off as a tax deduction because it is used for a non profit organization probably government funded and he gets a renovated improved property back and can probably sell it for at least twice what he paid and write it off at tax time every year so he is making a profit off of this no matter what way you look at it. I think he promotes bread for the world but I don’t see him publishing anywhere that he contributes anything to it financially. I think he and Gene have worked hard to build the company and do no take that away from him but I was angry that he would force feed some poor older person his philosophy and ruin their vacation and feed them drugs. If it was a joke it was not funny.

  29. What a crack-up. I believe about half of this blog. No doubt Rick had the attitudes described by him when he was young and part of the described events are partially accurate but if he really did all of that, I think that a few of his tourists would have found a skinny manhole leading to the underground Paris sewer system and introduced Rick to a personal tour of that sewer system.I have nothing in common politically with Rick but I do know of his very generous heart. I deal with the homeless folks and battered victims downtown and know what he has done.Compassion and generosity are not political,and it has been my experience that all sides of the spectrum are loving and compassionate. Some of the largest donators to the Union Gospel Mission are conservative groups and people as well as liberals proving my point that we can all be generous and compassionate.The 2 most wealthy Christian churches on the earth have in the last 10 yrs come together despite religious philosopy to do phenominal compassionate work. Catholic Services have a great network that can get trucks to almost any remote area.Mormon welfare services produce thousands of tons of goods through church tithing and welfare.On almost every large crisis they work together to get those goods past governments to the remote areas and peoples that really need the goods. Rick does great work through the Lutheran church to help those in need. But for the grace of God I too could be in need so I like most of you look for opportunities to help.Its obvious that Ricks early technique left alot to be desired and as he said he has matured but liberal or conservative his heart is in the right place and I look forward to one of his tours.Besides seeing the really beautiful places I want to see what real life there is like.I have been to most of the South American countries where real poverty abounds and it taught me humility and compassion. I have been to Europe with Ricks books. See yall tomorrow at Ricks travel classes

  30. I used to own and run a Nevada ranch before I retired. At one point I decided to bring in dudes to help with some expansion costs. I advertised in outdoors magazines. I got a lot of Californians/Americans and Germans. The Californians/Americans complained about everything. What a pain they were. They expected to be waited on hand and foot and expected chow like the Marriot puts out. The Germans could take it as hard as I dished it out. It was never too hot or too cold, too dry or too wet. There were never too many mosquitos and biting gnats. I soon realized they were a very valuable resource and put them to digging post holes by hand. They couldn’t get enough of that rocky soil. They would darn near burn their hide off in that sun, but never a complaint. I put them to clearing Russian Olive and they ran me out of bandages and would eagerly ask what was next. Yeah, I went a little “Rick” on them. I couldn’t help it. They were the toughest people I had ever met and I just wanted to see what they were made of. Finally, I went easy on them and introduced them to my best sipping corn whiskey. They drank me under the table. Funny thing, almost none of the Californians/Americans keep in touch but almost all the Germans do and many are the best friends I ever had. I like extremes, Rick. I like to feel alive. I can tell you do too which is why I keep coming back here. Keep firing them up!

  31. I can’t believe some of these comments. This was thirty years ago, folks. Yes, he’s reflecting back on what an idiot he was, and yes, I’m sure he didn’t have a lot of repeat customers back then. That’s why he doesn’t do it anymore! As to what charities Rick gives to, it’s no one’s business but his own. Don’t you ever think back on some of the stupid things you did in your youth and laugh about it?

  32. This confirms my decision to never take a guided tour. I much prefer to book my own accommodations and travel independently. I’d hate to be at the mercy of some misguided person wanting to force me into a “constructive” situation! Thanks for the warning.

  33. Some of you folks are amazing with your surprise about what Rick posts. Haven’t you read the info on this very page about the man. He’s very open about his beliefs, and as someone else here pointed out, he walks the walk. The fact that you are surprised at his statements shows you need to learn a little more about Rick Steves and ETBD.

  34. Rick, I for one totally agree with your travel philosophy – going through the “back door” to peek at the culture, and see how people in other countries live their day to day lives. It’s hard to do that if you’re staying in all 4 star hotels. You definitely showed us a different side of yourself with this post, but some people seem to be unable to see the humor (and forget that you were a 25 year old idealist). I’ve been on several trips with your books guiding me, but really look forward to taking one of your tours in the next few years!

  35. I remember booking a group into a horrible hotel above a sleazy bar thinking that would put what I considered petty complaints about hotels in perspective. Seeing a woman from my tour group shivering with fear on top of her threadbare sheets at the threat of bugs, I felt triumphant. What a jerk.

  36. Wow! Right on, Rick! A little tour of the development of your mind. I appreciate the honestly and security you feel to be able to do that…uncomplimentary things as well as the admirable. Life is all a process after all. Thanks for the free tour!

  37. People who take the trust of other people and use it against them are not nice people or honorable people. Whether he was 5, 15, or 25 abuse of power and trust coupled with laughing about it is the makings of a sociopath. Didn’t you do the same thing to your poor old dad…making him come over to diner only to have 3 year old Andy scream Allah, Allah, Allah before dinner to upset him because he would not accept the muslims. I wonder were you smoking your dope when you decided to make such an outrageous confession of how you abuse people?

  38. Rick Steves talks to alumni about making a mint on budget travel…UW…”Travel teacher. Entrepreneur. Millionaire. Rick Steves (BA 1978) has carved a niche in the travel industry by turning budget travelers into savvy travelers. At a UW Foster School of Business event March 25, he talked to alumni about building his business from shoestring budget to $40 million per year operation and about the political value of travel.””Guerilla marketing is how he describes each segment of his business feeding the other segments. While his business is mainly subsidized by the European tours, his other business operations are healthy, thanks to their natural cross-promotion. “Not one part of my business could be viable on its own. They all relate and support each other,” said Steves before mentioning the handouts he brought for the Foster School alumni audience: a newsletter, booklet of blog excerpts, tour brochure and travel planning map. Marketing aside, timing was also key to his success. “Arthur Frommer kind of blazed the path. Flights became cheap, the dollar became strong, affluence grew in America and people wanted to go back and check out their roots.” “How did business school help him succeed? Steves said he wasn’t passionate about studying business, but absorbed enough in the classroom to put his education to work. He found economics, business writing, ethics and human resources to be some of the most useful subjects for running a business. “At business school, without knowing it, I think I was learning stuff that was going to make me turn my passion into a viable Livelihood.” ETHICS, DID IT REALLY SINK IN?????Not looking at your blog entry.

  39. Clearly a lot of people reading this blog can’t recognize a reflection on misguided youth when it jumps up and hits them in the face. Did you never have friends in your late teens and early to mid twenties who were oh so very earnest about their ideals? My nephew at 26 is just emerging from the passionate stage. I guess we can all be grateful that his passions weren’t in conducting guided tours! I look forward to seeing a similar blog from Nathan reflecting on his exuberance between 18 and 25 in about 25 to 30 years.

  40. Funny how some people think you just get to be a better person without making mistakes. Some nuts even think Christ was perfect. Lets just say he was. It is impossible to achieve that with out making mistakes to learn from. Simple law of nature. The same one God follows, unless you think we were not made in God’s image. Or maybe you think God didn’t and doesn’t make mistakes too.

  41. This blog will make an excellent case study on how to alienate your existing customers and kill your business. The more I know about Rick, the less I care to have any association with his products. I wish PBS would find another person to host Europe travel shows. Rick’s had a long run there getting free publicity for his products. Looks like it might be time for this to change.

  42. Folks, this story should be taken as the anecdote that it was meant to be. Grow!!!! His books and videos have help me to make my trip so much more memorable then they ever could have benn had I gone with say Frommers or Let’s Go. Personally, I enjoyed staying in peoples houses in Prague and Denmark as opposed to say a 3 star overpriced footlooker. The hardest part about being a tourist is trying to break the tourist vaneer and actually associate with the locals. Roughing it a bit helps. Life is a journey and travel is not supposed to make you happier. It is supposed to open your eyes. You can’t really do that if you stay at the Sofitel every night. Rick, I’ll never forget the reaction I got from the receptionest/owner of the Hotel we stayed at on the Rhine in St. Goar when I mentioned your name. She broke into the biggest smile, told me that if Fritz ticketed me (it was winter) for parking in the two hour parking across the street, she would pay the fine. She gave me an additional 10% off and had a huge buffet set up on my table. Lighten up people and accept growth and the courage to fess up to it and the fact that he isn’t just an ivory white ball of American blandness.

  43. Rick, your honesty is acknowledged and appreciated. In our youth we all can have some pretty silly perceptions about what “other people” need and how best to get them to understand it. Force feeding individuals is seldom the best method and I am grateful that those misguided, as you say, methods are no longer employed. Frankly, I am not sure I would be as honest with strangers as you. Sometimes these types of stories are best delivered one-on-one rather than by email. Their value is too easily lost using this type of communication method. Friend, sometimes trying too hard is more destructive than not trying at all. I invite to take it just a little bit slower for the next few weeks of blogging. Cheers.

  44. Take the time to read the full post… “Of course, I eventually learned that this was the wrong approach and you can’t just force people into a rough situation and expect it to be constructive. Today, after learning from 30 years of feedback… ” This is a post about learning from your mistakes and growing as an individual. Rick is talking about his perspective on the world 30 YEARS AGO…you should not equate this to be how he conducts business today.

  45. People, let’s all sit back, sing a couple verses of Obama Kum Ba Yah and calm ourselves for a while. I disagree strongly with Rick’s politics 95% of the time but have taken 6 of his tours. His tours offer the best guides I have been exposed to all quite liberal, yet still great at their jobs. The tours allow the traveler ample private time to get lost and meet locals on your own. The local guides range from interesting ( one in Venice who “I’m not joking” was laying everything from Venice sinking to graffiti on their walls, at the feet of George W. Bush), to people who you thank God for allowing you to share time on Earth with such as Herr Jung. The tours will take you places that will haunt your placid moments the rest of the year. You will meet local folk who have never been as critical of the USA as what many of you on this blog have been. I have never met anyone while traveling that has been rude or condescending just interested and interesting. You will discover foods that will become lifelong treats to savor again and again. You will be comfortable and well taken care of while not having to be concerned with schedules, waiting in long lines, making reservations or transportation. While Rick can come off smug, arrogant, condescending, elitist, and nuts on this blog, in life he is very likable and approachable. None of us are likely at our best while blogging, with the possible exception of Mr. Humberd. I too am a bit reluctant to enrich Rick with my very hard earned capital but what I receive in return is more precious.

  46. I agree with Michael B these type of confessions are best not shared in blogs or emails. I have been on 3 Rick Steves tours and the only one that I hated two of the accomadtions was on the Best Of Scandinavia tour when Rick was on it himself. So unless he was into punishing or teaching himself a lesson, the Copenhagen accomdation was more of a blunder than lesson. The guides of the scandiavia tour and paris tour were so wonderful I still remember their names and faces and what they did to make it a great tour. Looking forward to another one this spring if the economy gets better.

  47. Rick I had heard that about you, my in laws live in Bellevue and when we first started traveling we bought one of your first books, but my in laws said you would never want to travel with Rick Steves his standards are pretty low, his four star hotels are about two. So we are so greatful that your suggestions now are more realistic. Because we do think of these trips as a vacation.

  48. This reminds me of the story I read where you went all around edmonds ripping up the little American flags the Lions club had put out in support of the Iraq war. You seem to have this issue with thinking yours is the only feelings that should be taken into account and damn everyone elses feelings. Now I am scared to death to take one of your tours.

  49. LOL…in todays day and age the ladies would have told their friends about this incident, their friends would have recommended a lawyer,the lawyer would have sued for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the women would have seen a shrink for Post truamatic stress disorder and Rickwould be paying lawyers for the next ten years. He would settle out of court and be paying a settlement on the law suit for years. Then it would have been reported in the paper and he would have been arrested for being in possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Don’t you love the simpler days when you could call people names and it was sticks and stones will break my bone instead of it being disorderly conduct, or tell them they better watch out without it being a terroistic threat.

  50. Rick you must have developed quite a thick skin to take all these EXTREMELY RUDE and UNKIND right wing bloggers remarks over the years in this blog. I still don’t get it why they bother to even open your web page and scroll down to your travel blog and waste their times if they so dislike your point of views. Go figure.

  51. IMO, some of the responses to this particular post perfectly illustrate one the fundamental problems of our society. It seems that many people are comfortable with spending less than 2 seconds evaluating what others have to say and then spending hours sitting in platitudinous judgment. The same tired, visceral, reactionary, superficial comments really aren’t applicable to every situation and the only purpose they serve is to show a serious lack of comprehension and critical thinking skills. It’s truly disappointing.

  52. Spot on Samantha! I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve been a lurker here, and have enjoyed Ricks posts, but have been appalled at the harsh, judgmental and often misinformed responses. Keep up the good work Rick! I hope to take one of your tours soon.

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