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Quintessential Tours Clients - The Allens

About the Allens   |  About their Trip   |   Letter from Wendy  |  Photos
TRIP SNAPSHOT
Trip Length: 8 Days
Pickup Date: November 8th
Drop-off Date: November 15th
Rough Distance Traveled: 1442 Miles
Pickup Location: Travelodge, Las Vegas
Drop-off Location: Embassy Suites, SFO
Overnights: Los Angeles, San Simeon, San Francisco
Group Size: 3 adults, 1 teenager
Vehicle: Toyota Sienna Minivan
Guide: Jeff Lowe
 
WHERE DID WE TAKE THEM AND WHAT DID THEY DO?  
The Allens' trip began in Las Vegas with a tour of the Strip, took a long day to drive route 66 and see the Grand Canyon, and then headed to the California coast for 3 night stops in Los Angeles and San Francisco sandwiched around a trip up the Central Coast with an overnight in San Simeon. The group took advantage of guide Jeff Lowe's expertise in photography both to document their trip for them and to provide instruction to Shelley, Wendy's 15 year-old aspiring photographer.
 
Photo: Jeff Lowe
Las Vegas 3 nights (2 before we joined them)

We met Wendy and her family in Las Vegas at the end of their second day there. They had spent their first two days enjoying the Strip, and doing some serious shopping. We weren't scheduled to meet them until the morning of their third day, but Jeff was excited to start the tour, and volunteered to give them a proper tour of the Strip as a prequel to their coming adventure.

After their tour, the family braved an 8 hour time difference to catch Manchester United vs. Arsenal (despite living in Manchester, Arsenal is their favorite team) in the MGM Sports Book before rejoining with Jeff early the following morning for a day trip to the Grand Canyon.

Las Vegas Highlights
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While Ethel shopped, we enjoyed unsurpassed views from America's tallest observation deck, the 1,149' tall Stratosphere tower.
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The family rode a gondola on the canals at The Venetian Hotel
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Visited a real, Western town and Shelley was taught how to use a whip by a cowboy
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The women shopped at exclusive and souvenir shops along the Strip
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Took in the exciting night life at the Fremont Street experience highlighted by the group Queen, a family favorite.
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Experienced the 24/7 action and bright night lights on the Las Vegas Strip
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Upon leaving, we stopped to take memory photos in front of the famous 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign
 

Photo: Jeff Lowe
Grand Canyon/Route 66 Day trip from Las Vegas

The official start to the Allen family's tour came with very little sleep, after Arsenal's late night/early morning win over Man U. It's a long day getting to the Grand Canyon and back from Las Vegas by car, but with the family's limited time, and other priorities, they decided to go ahead and brave the long day, in order to see one of the world's true wonders... and also to do some driving on Route 66.

Grand Canyon Highlights
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Wendy fulfilled a lifetime dream by driving on (and thereby getting her kicks) America's famous Route 66 in Williams, Arizona. Jeff had Nat King Cole's version of "Route 66" playing in the background.
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Enjoyed a delicious lunch at the local Route 66 Cafe in Williams, Arizona
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Visited a real, Western town and Shelley was taught how to use a whip by a cowboy
Photo: Jeff Lowe
Los Angeles/Hollywood 3 nights
After the long day of driving to see the Grand Canyon, the group would take their time leaving Las Vegas, being sure to get some shots in front of the famous sign on the way out of town. A five hour drive brought them to the City of Angels, where they would spend 3 nights, allowing for plenty of time to see the sights and play in the surf. Having 3 nights in one spot also allowed the group to relax a bit after the hectic pace of the previous few days.
Los Angeles and Hollywood Highlights
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The group fulfilled another dream, with Jeff getting them to the closest possible vista for the Hollywood sign.
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Shelley's lifetime dream came true when she was "surprised" with visits to several filming locations of her favorite TV shows, "Charmed" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer
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Wendy's favorite TV show, "Friends", became very personal when she and the entire family got to visit the actual set and sit on the famous couch.
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The girls got to play in the Pacific Ocean for the very first time
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Sunbathed and wrote love letters to their boyfriends in the wet sand surfside in Manhattan Beach
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Wendy and Shelley became real California surfer girls by "borrowing" a surfer's surfboard in the crashing waves of the Pacific
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Shelley saw Heath Ledgers joker outfit at Warner Brothers
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Enjoyed a delicious lunch at the local diner, Uncle Bill's, after visiting the sand and surf in Manhattan Beach. They would continue to enjoy Jeff's suggestions for hidden-away local flavor throughout the trip.
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Strolled and shopped Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and saw the hotel and Julia's Robert's apartment balcony in "Pretty Woman"
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After a fun day of continual surprises provided by Jeff taking the famly (especially daughter Shelley) to many TV shooting locations of her favorite TV shows, Jeff provided another of many excellent dining choices selected throughout the Allen's tour at California Chicken Cafe, in Venice, California where everyone enjoyed the fresh rotisserie chicken and fresh salad and side order selections.
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Shelley found the perfect dress for her high school prom
Photo: Jeff Lowe
San Simeon 1 night
San Simeon worked as a perfect overnight location, about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. They visited Central Coast's most famous attraction, Hearst Castle, before continuing north.
San Simeon Highlights
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Ethel absolutely loves Christmas and its decorations and so she was thrilled to see the decorations being put up at Hearst Castle
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The girls really wished they could go swimming in the pools and do some sunbathing at the castle
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Jeff lead a nature walk to the cliffs overlooking the pounding Pacific surf
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Jeff surprised the Allens and took them to the "anti Hearst Castle" Nitwitt Ridge. The girls shopped in the quaint village of Cambria
Photo: Jeff Lowe
San Francisco 3 nights
Scared off by the windy roads of Big Sur and a propensity for motion-sickness, the group opted to take the straighter, faster inland road to San Francisco, Highway 101. For the next 3 days, the group would enjoy the City by the Bay, and Wendy would see if her nerves would allow her to walk across the world's most famous bridge.
San Francisco Highlights
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TV's "Full House" set in San Francisco, opens with a shot of beautiful Victorian homes with downtown San Francisco in the backdrop. Wendy got to stand in the exact spot and get the very same view.
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Experienced sunset underneath the spectacular Golden Gate Bridge
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Despite some fear, the group walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. This was an important milestone for Wendy, who has a lifetime fear of bridges that go over water.
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The ladies got fresh flowers for their hair, in order to honor the well-known lyrics to "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie.
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Rode the cable cars.
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Shopped on Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf
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Wendy, Grandpa and Shelley toured world famous, Alcatraz Prison while Ethel got to shop on Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39.
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Drove down world famous and very windy, Lombard Street while listening to comic Bill Cosby speak humorously of driving Lombard Street
ENDURING MEMORY - "CHARMED" - JEFF TALKS ABOUT SETTING UP THE SURPRISE

Jeff writes:

I love pleasing my clients and they almost always become lifelong friends. Wendy and I had emailed each other a few times while I tried to gather any information that might help me provide added tour treats for them. She mentioned various interests that each family member had and so my research began. The grandpa loved church architecture, grandma loved shopping, Wendy wanted sunshine and to drive on Route 66 and to see the Hollywood sign. But, 15 year old daughter Shelley absolutely adored a TV show, "Charmed". It was her very favorite and her lifelong wish was to be able to see the main house where it was filmed.

Boy, did I get busy. I joined Charmed online chatrooms and posted on message boards in addition to doing other research. I eventually identified not only the main house but several other locations some of which included grand churches for grandpa. I let Wendy know my findings and she got very excited. We agreed to try to keep it a secret from Shelley but I think word leaked out because Wendy told me Shelley saw an email and was getting excited, too.

After visiting a few shooting locations all over Los Angeles that I had mapped out and learned about so I could speak intelligently with Shelley, I told Wendy that I was going to pretend to get lost on our way to the Charmed house. Of course, Shelley just thought I was driving them around town. I told Shelley and everyone to be on the lookout for someone walking on the street that looked trustworthy because I was "lost" and needed directions back to the freeway so we could return to the hotel. Wendy of course, knew the truth and the folks knew by this point in the tour that Jeff never gets lost. But, Shelley was busy with her video in the back seat and was looking out once in awhile.

I drove around for about 10 minutes reminding everyone to be on the lookout and making sure Shelley was looking out, too. I finally said I saw someone safe and pulled over. You guessed it. Shelley saw her house as I pulled to the curb in front of it. I loved watching her reaction. Her mouth flew open, hands covering it, eyes wide and then she started to cry tears of happiness. I helped her out of the car and whispered a special something in her ear as she continued to sob for joy.

Wendy whispered "thank you" in my ear and we all watched teary-eyed as Shelley moved toward her lifelong dream.

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