1997 Journal Series 1: My first pre-tour journal entry

Me and my Dad, circa 1957.

I’ve always been a little sentimental about memories. When I was a kid, I remember spending hours at my grandparents’ home looking through old black and white family photos. These photos were kept in the “middle room” in the bottom right drawer of a dresser. Back then, in the 1960’s, the collection of photos contained photos of my grandparents and parents taken from the 1930’s and 1940’s. My Uncle Bob, the oldest child of my grandparents, was interested in photography when he was in college and had left quite a collection of photographs in that drawer.

While browsing through those faded black and white photos, I always enjoyed identifying phots of relatives, taken in their younger days. But what really interested me was the locations in which they were taken. I dreamed of distant places and new locales, even if they were just “back home” in South Carolina or at the local zoo.

 Later when I was in college, Charlotte and I actually wrote letters to one another, and we still have them today. Those handwritten letters are sometimes funny to look back upon and read. It’s funny, but I can always remember the exact locale, circumstances, or events to which we referred in those letters. I guess that’s why when I was about to depart on a big trip to Europe, I decided to purchase a leather bound journal to record my thoughts, reflections, and memories.

So in June 1997, I set off on a band performance tour to Europe organized by EF Educational Tours. Now, those of you who have known me for some time, know that EF Tours is the reason I started my tour company, Exploring Europe. But at that time, I did not have the know-how or the resources to set up a tour to Europe, much less a performance tour! So, I relied on a tour company to plan and organize the tour, our accomodations, transportation, dining, and performance venues. Here is an entry from the first pages of my 1997 journal:

airplane drawing


 “June 5, 1997-
Today, we were up at 7 a.m. in Middleburg (FL) doing the last minute stuff that always makes me late. Why Charlotte picked this day to get her hair cut and frosted is beyond me, but she did! I left for the bank, school, and last minute errands by 8:30 and began my rush to get things done here at home. The most important stop was at our bank to get Traveler’s Checks. I arrived back home at 10 a.m. and met up with my kids and some friends for our trip to the airport. We still had to make a stop at the “hair place” to pick up Charlotte and Brian, and by the time we got there, it was pouring rain. After our first of many “passport and moneybelt checks,” we were on our way.

We arrived at the airport by 11:35 a.m. and found the Continential Airlines check-in desk. Benny, the agent there, was very helpful with getting our group checked in and most importantly, getting all our instruments on free of charge. By 12:30 the whole group had checked in and we all walked down to the gate.

Finally at 2:30 p.m. we departed Jacksonville and were off on our adventure. After about two hours, we arrived at Newark. In transit, we flew over Manhattan and I got my first look at New York City. The Empire State Building, World Trade Center Twin Towers, and Statue of Liberty were pretty darn impressive, especially for a country boy from Middleburg.

To get in the European spirit, we had pasta at “Sabbaro” in Newark airport, then hung out for about two hours. We boarded Flight #56 at 7:25 p.m. and were off the ground by 8:30. The flight was uneventful – I slept most of the time due to my taking two Bayer PM. We also had ear plugs and an eye mask which really helped me sleep.”

My Reflections in December 2007:
How I’ve changed in those ten years! Traveler’s Checks, Bayer PM, eye masks, quick airline check-in, and the World Trade Center are things of the past. Now-a-days, I use my debit card to get local cash, I have a glass of wine instead of Bayer PM, the World Trade center is no more, and my cap or hat takes the place of the eye mask.

There is more to come with this trip; we aren’t even in Europe yet! Needless to say that trip must have had a lasting impression on me. Now nearing the end of 2007, I’ve got a collection of nine leather bound journals chronicling my adventures in Europe and the rest of the world. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about me and my travels.

November 2011 Update:
I am turning my “pen and paper” journal into an online episodic account of my travels. This is the first in a weekly series that will appear over the next few months. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or just want to add more information, I’d love to hear from you. Simply click the {comments} tab below and type away.


link to Episode 2

About the Author
David McGuffin established David McGuffin's Exploring Europe, Inc. in 2001 to formally offer European tours. Since then, he has taken several thousand satisfied customers on memorable and educational tours to Europe.
  1. Judy Creswell Reply

    I enjoyed reading this so much. I am looking forward to hearing more about your travels. Thanks!

  2. Peggy Elmore Reply

    I will look forward to reading the next one. I remember your trips to the Library to check out books on the various places you planned to visit in those early days.

    Thanks for sharing your journals.

  3. Heather Crissinger Staples Reply

    I am surprised you didn’t mention the hoards of parents at our gate saying goodbye! I wonder now what our fellow passengers thought when they saw this huge group of teenagers pile on to the plane! I am going to have to dig out my old photos from this trip now. 🙂

  4. Sarah Haensly Gomez Reply

    This sure brings back great memories! I remember my mom crying at the airport when we were leaving and how embarrassed I was. ha! I’m ready to go on vacation again! That trip is one of the best memories I have.

  5. davidmcguffin Reply

    Sarah and Heather, I guess I did not recall the “crying parents” because I had my family with me. Not just Jamie, Brian, and Charlotte, but my Mom and Aunt as well.

  6. Kara Reply

    According to my journal entry, Jessie and I were seated behind you and Mrs. McGuffin: “We sit behind the McGuffins, so we can’t move a lot or else we’ll bump their seat and they give us dirty looks.” Ha!

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