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Quintessential Tours Clients - The Tecklenburgs


Jimmy and Eunice were our first clients. They came to California both to see its natural beauty, and also to explore the possibilities of buying a farm in the United States. They were particularly interested in National Parks, and, as lifelong farmers, things that grew.

They started their trip visiting family in Southern California, before beginning their time with us. What began as a fairly straightforward few days turned into an adventure that took us all the way to Houston, Texas.


HA! Where to begin. When Eunice's niece contacted us about the the Tecklenburgs' tour, I had never guided a tour. Our custom itinerary design service had been thriving for nearly 3 years at that point, but actually participating in our clients' tours remained a future objective.

Special requests from Jimmy and Eunice changed all that. The request for a driver was a new one for us. I arranged one through a local chauffeur service. When they changed their arrival time at the last minute, and the chauffeur service wasn't able to adjust (it was Labor Day Weekend), I agreed to pick them up from Oakland Airport, and serve as their driver for the first couple days, until the chauffeur company could take over.

That's when the fun began. Turns out that their interests and needs hadn't quite been translated properly by their niece, who prior to arriving at Oakland Airport was the only person with whom I'd had contact. Suddenly, the Tecklenburgs' trip became a mountain of special requests, starting with the correct spelling of their name (I'd made dozens of arrangements under the name "Pecklenburg") and continuing with a complete, on-the-fly redrafting of the entire itinerary.

Alas, I had bad news for the Jimmy and Eunice; the chauffeur company could not adapt to the sudden changes.

Ever charming and assertive, Jimmy replied, "You drive us." I thought about it a bit. I'd been enjoying the time I was spending with them. They were appreciative of my efforts to show them things I'd known all my life, and I was really getting a charge out of being their guide. I told them that, if it was okay with Tess (my wife), I'd do it. The rest as they say is historical documentary.

The Tecklenburgs had a wonderful trip. I discovered my calling as a guide, and the "special requests" continued. Two days into the trip, Jimmy raised the idea of my driving them to Houston, Texas, where they were planning on flying to visit family after finishing their time with me in Las Vegas. At first, I thought he was joking. I should have known better. A couple weeks later, after a whirlwind drive through the Rockies, into the Great Plains, we arrived in the Lone Star State, where I bid farewell to the Tecklenburgs.

 Highlight Destinations
San Francisco Monterey Peninsula
Bodega Bay Mendocino
The Redwood Highway Trinity Alps
Lake Tahoe Bodie Ghost Town
Yosemite National Park Death Valley
Las Vegas Grand Canyon National Park
Zion National Park    
 Other Notable Visits
Lettuce fields in the Salinas Valley, where Jimmy discussed farming practices with the locals.
A stop at Eagle Creek Ranch in the Trinity Alps, where we treated Jimmy and Eunice to a family-style experience on my family's ranch.
An almond orchard belonging to Jimmy's Godson in Chico, California.
A night in the shadow of Mount Whitney (the tallest point in the "Lower 48" in the town of Lone Pine
Camp Manzanar, a camp where Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II.
Pikes Peak, Colorado, where you can drive to the top of a 14,115 foot mountain in the heart of the Rockies.
Meandering among the wheat and corn fields in the heart of Kansas, where Jimmy thought he might like to buy a farm.
 Organized Activities

Jimmy and Eunice were just starting their 70s when we had our adventure together, and weren't terribly interested in a whole lot of rigorous activity. In fact, they were primarily interested in simply driving scenic highways and byways to soak up as much of the beauty of California's wilderness and remote areas (and eventually of Utah's, Colorado's and Kansas's as well).

So, the Tecklenburgs' trip was light on organized activities. There were a couple of exceptions though:

We arranged a flightseeing tour of the Grand Canyon for them that included a fixed wing aircraft flight over the western canyon, as well as a helicopter ride to the bottom of the canyon, where they took a boat ride with the local Havasupai Tribe on the Colorado River.
We set them up with a lovely afternoon lunch cruise on Lake Tahoe.
 Other Odds and Ends
While Jimmy and Eunice weren't interested in a whole lot of organized activities, there were some other notable things we did during their trip:
We took a tour of an almond farm in Chico
We spent large amounts of time searching for a bear (sadly, we failed in this pursuit, but we did see plenty of other wildlife).
We stopped often to have a first-hand look at various farms and ranches.
We drove to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
I took them to a Best Buy in Carson City, Nevada, where they invested in their first digital camera. This was a major breakthrough into the technological age for a couple from who'd spent their entire lives in very rural South Africa. Throughout the remainder of the trip, we spent a lot of time learning how to use the camera, taking pictures of just about everything we could fit in the viewfinder. My laptop came in handy for putting the photos online so that their kids back in South Africa could track our journey as we traveled.

For Jimmy: As a lifelong farmer, Jimmy is a lover of things that grow. The highlights of the trip for Jimmy began with our visit to the Redwood Highway in Northern California. More than anyone I've ever taken to see the redwoods, Jimmy was absolutely awestruck by these giant living things, and took extra time to experience the solitude provided by a grove of thousand year-old sentinels.

Along the same theme, Jimmy was exuberant as we entered the Rocky Mountains after a day of driving through Utah's desolate Southeastern corner. He'd never seen anything so desolate as Utah, and was overjoyed to be back among the world of living things.

For Eunice: I was really amazed at how much Eunice enjoyed our wildlife. The Tecklenburgs' home in South Africa lies across a river from a major game reserve. Since our journey together, Eunice has sent me pictures of giraffes and elephants taken from their own yard. So, I was surprised at how she found such seemingly ordinary creatures like deer, coyotes and even squirrels so captivating. Our stops in the Trinity Alps and Yosemite were particularly memorable due to the abundance of wildlife in each location. My only regret is that I wasn't able to find them a bear.
For me: This trip has such a special place in my heart that it's hard to pinpoint one or two highlights. I think just the true adventure of their trip from start to finish, beginning with a simple day trip from the airport to Monterey, and somehow finding myself in Houston a couple weeks later.
 Other Cool Moments
Spotting a family of mountain sheep in Zion National Park
Learning the intricacies of ordering food in American restaurants
Leaving Las Vegas. Their neice was sure they'd love it; they didn't. Spent one night, and headed for Zion.
 Meet Our Clients
Names: Jimmy and Eunice Tecklenburg
Home: Komatipoort, South Africa
Interests: Farming, things that grow, wildlife, beautiful scenery
Trip Length: 14 days
 •  Letter from Eunice
 •  Itinerary: Day-to-day Narrative
 •  Photos
 Route Map

 •  Letter from Eunice
 •  Itinerary: Day-to-day Narrative
 •  Photos
 Images from Their Trip
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