Air Conditioned Bus Tours
Who doesn’t look forward to going on vacation? Spending time away from their daily struggles relaxing in whatever manner one prefers. Now the type of vacation a person takes depends hugely upon individual tastes and preferences. Most folks like to be wined-n-dined to the max, with every particular need being catered to. This might include their favorite food being served to their exact specifications, and participation in a treasured set of activities.
Others prefer to do things in a more rough-n-ready manner, the trip falling into place spontaneously, and having to work a bit more to achieve their specific set of vacation goals. Developing this razor-sharp ability to ignore the inconveniences that’s not unlike a gym rat who refuses to believe their feet smell.
This is the type of vacation our protagonist, DARREN DALLAVALLE, likes to participate in. Being your quintessential backpack type traveler, as opposed to being a luxury lounge chair/cocktail tourist. He’s just returned home to South West Colorado from his latest adventure, and receives a call from his cousin on the left coast informing him that their uncle, JORGE DaSILVA, would like to take all five of his nieces and nephews on a cruise.
Jorge has almost as much money as Jeff Bezos, and is good at saving as evidenced by the rumor that he may still have the first shilling from his newspaper route while growing up in Shanghai, China. Darren immediately becomes skeptical since this isn’t exactly his idea of an interesting vacation. Cousin RYAN, casually mentioning that Darren prefers adventures where the excitement can only come from doing things off-the-cuff. This includes street stall cuisine, park-bench accommodations, and having the barrel of an AR-15 pointed at your skull.
This becomes the philosophical juxtaposition that is Air Conditioned Bus Tours. Initially, Darren refuses to participate in the cruise. He works as a front desk clerk at the Columbia, CO. public library, and everyone at his job, a wide menagerie of friends and colleagues who give new meaning to the term, “mildly eccentric” and his only sister, GRETCHEN, try to influence him. Gretchen and Darren’s unique family heritage is introduced, and touched upon throughout the story. This includes a father of rural northern Italian/Tyrolian descent, and their mother who came from an urban Macanese background (Portuguese people living in China).
The manipulation to try and get Darren to participate in the cruise includes a stealth influence-scheme which little by little works, and he decides to participate. Then, a monkey wrench gets thrown into the works when their uncle suffers a mild heart attack and the DaSilva niece/nephew cruise may not even happen. Fortunately, he recovers, and the ship vacation still occurs.
Jorge decides to take his nieces and nephews on a Central European River cruise through the Norse God organization, and the other three nieces & nephews enter into this quirky tale, including cousin MEGAN, and Ryan’s sister, ESTELLE.
During the cruise itself, another set of off-the-wall characters participating in the boat trip enters into the picture. All of them influence Darren in some way, whether good or bad, and his impression of the cruise is painted by this.
In the end, uncle Jorge tells Darren that he wishes he could have gone on a few of those rough-n-ready vacations his nephew takes when he was younger. Darren comes to the conformist conclusion that a person’s financial situation and chronological age they are in at a particular point in their life greatly influences the type of vacation they take. Despite having just participated in a fancy cruise though, Darren still decides he wants to do the backpack vacation thing right up until the day he’s too old, and eating all his meals through a straw.
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