The Trip of a Lifetime (The End) (7/30/02)

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Part 20- The end of another chapter in my life.


Talk about somber mornings. I got in about 5 hours of sleep before waking up and facing the realization that today was the day I would be going home. Some people went home a week before. Some people went home two days before. I didn’t want to go home, period. Without sounding like a child leaving an amusement park for the first time, I simply wanted to stay longer. I wanted to go to another country. I wanted to re-ride some of those amazing rides I rode with the last 20 days. Yes, I wanted to do so many more things, but I needed to get home. I may not have wanted to go home, but there clearly is a fine line between “wants” and “needs” and I needed to realize that I had no choice in the matter at this time. It was time to go.

My mother and I checked out of the Disney hotel we had been staying at. We called for a taxi and waited outside for it to show up. We talked a bit about all the various places we had stayed at during the tour. Ironically, we found the worse customer service to be at the hotel we were leaving. Yes, even worse than Pontin’s if you can believe that.

Our taxi showed up and gave us a ride to the CDG airport. Man, did we get a ride. A financial ride. The airport wasn’t very far from where we were staying, yet, our driver ended up going off the freeway and taking a country road to the airport. We circled the airport before finally reaching our terminal. When asked to pay the fare, we were both shocked at how much it was. The taxi we took to go across the entire city of Paris was much cheaper by comparison. I made it very clear how I felt about the steep fare but there really wasn’t anything I could do at this point because after all, we did have a plane to catch soon.

The security in CDG was the most tight we had seen the entire trip. We were asked to show our passport many times before we reached our gate. I had no problem with the extra security because this is the way it should always be, however, I did have a small problem with the terminal. As with pretty much every indoor place I went into, this building didn’t have air and it was very humid.

As it turns out, we had to be bussed to our Delta 777 waiting on the tarmac. The coach (of course) had no air and was completely packed with people. I have never been in a more crowded atmosphere. It was almost funny. Perhaps leaving wasn’t a bad thing after all? =:^)

Once on board, we sat down and prepared for the 8-hour flight to Cincinnati. This flight had entertainment systems for all passengers also, but they weren’t as nice as the ones we had on the Continental flight over to London, but who was I to complain? At least we had something. I was just starting to get comfortable in my seat when a very, large man sat in the seat next to me. I have no problem sitting next to people as long as they are in their own seat. For most of the flight, he decided to sit in an awkward angle so his left arm and shoulder were in my seat. I am all for comfort on long flights but I found this to be very rude. I have a feeling he picked up on it a couple of hours after the flight started because he asked if he could move to another seat to be more comfortable. He was declined because of a full flight.

Luckily, the 8-hour flight was easier to handle thank those entertainment systems. I watched a few movies including Clock Stoppers, Big Fat Liar (again), and The Rookie. I didn’t sleep a wink the entire flight and I didn’t even stand up once.

Once we arrived in Cincinnati, we went through customs. It took longer than I thought it would but you have to remember that the last time I went through customs was when I first arrived in London. The customs we went through there was almost unnoticeable. In Cincy on the other hand, it was a much bigger deal. The seriousness was very evident as could easily be seen by the customs crew.

We had one more flight to take before getting back to Columbus. We didn’t have to wait long before our 25 minute flight was taking off. During the brief flight, we talked with a man who works for Wal-Mart. He travels the county and does “something” with all the distribution centers. He had asked where we had just come from. When we told him briefly what the tour was about, he seemed quite surprised that there was a group of people that would want to do that. I think he got a kick out of it. He also told us about his world travels to at least 37 different countries. That dude sure gets around!

We were now back in Columbus. It didn’t seem real driving my car from the airport down I-670. It didn’t seem real when I first saw the Columbus skyline approaching. Nothing seemed real, but indeed it was.

Instead of watching all my footage as soon as I got home, I decided to take a much needed nap. Before dosing off, I just looked up at the ceiling and thought about what I had just done in the last 20 days. I went to 6 different countries, rode 87 new-to-me coasters, rode on a coach for over 3,100 miles, flew across the Atlantic twice, and floated across the English Channel. While it seemed to last forever while I was on the trip, the second I got back home, it suddenly seemed to go back in the blink of an eye. Funny how that works sometimes.

I also thought about the cool times I had with all my friends. This is what made the trip so special for me. All the incredible people I met and talked to on this spectacular journey. I would really love to list every single name that made this tour awesome for me, but I can’t. There are just too many names to name. Let’s just say that I am certain they know who they are. I am also very glad that my mother enjoyed the trip. When she mentioned that she wanted to do this tour a year ago, I honestly didn’t think she would be able to keep up with the scheadule as it was packed. I knew very early into the tour that she would be fine as she ended up having as much fun as everyone else. There are two people that I believe that need to be mentioned once more.

First off, Tim Baldwin. When Tim first started putting this tour together, he knew it was going to be a hassle. He knew there would be some bumps in the road, and he knew there would be a fair share of complaining going on. However, he also knew this could very well be the best vacation ever for a lot of people, me included. Tim did an outstanding job organizing the tour, and it was clearly evident by all those that attended. Tim, you did a great job and I consider you a great friend. Let’s do another one soon!!

Nigel Piltz. I can’t say enough positive remarks about the man. Honestly, I can’t. I feel bad for those that didn’t get to know Nigel the way that many of us did as he brought a level of character to the tour that was comical, yet informative and witty. His humor was fantastic as was his knowledge. I know I wasn’t the only one that felt this way either. I don’t think I have ever bonded with a person that quickly before. Before the end of the first day, I felt like I had known him for years. Yes, a couple of times we did get lost but look at it this way. We may have been late getting somewhere, but we completed the 3,100 mile long journey without a scratch on us. To me, that says a lot.

When I got home, I checked my e-mail and noticed I had an e-mail from Nigel titled “I miss my Orange family”. There was some text in the message but what really got my attention was a file attachment. I opened it up and noticed it was an mp3 file. If you read the report talking about Park Asterix, you read of a mention of a song that I had been looking for that Nigel shed some light into. As it turns out, the mp3 file he sent me was “Me and My Arrow”. I completely lost it. I freaked out when I played that file. It was just as if I was 4 years old or so. That’s how cool Nigel is! I know I will keep in touch with him for many years to come. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is reading all of this right now. If so, I hope you enjoyed these reports Nigel.

To be fair, all the drivers from Bullock were awesome. Each coach had their own kind of funny driver. It was very humorous listening to the drivers talk back and forth on their radios as they seemed to love what they do for a living.

Because of this tour, I learned a lot about myself. I learned to appreciate the things I have, even more than ever. I leaned some cool info that I can use when I go back to Europe. I also learned what NOT to do. However, one of the biggest things I learned on this tour is how amazing people can be at times when together. The true colors of people do come out after a while and this tour was a big test to that and demonstrated it in more ways than one.

Having said that, I believe it is finally time for me to end this series or reports. I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my observations but rather gave you a unique view to the way I saw things while in Europe. For those that read every report, I applaud you as I know it took some patience. I honestly didn’t intend for these reports to be so long.

Just imagine what they would have looked like if I wasn’t so “speechless” at the end of the tour………

Thank you so much for reading,


I'm actually kinda sad that this was the last one...

I've been reading these from the very first one you posted, and I must say thanks. I didn't go on the trip, but from the detail you put into these reports, I almost feel as if I had. Even from just reading these reports it sounded like an unforgettable, once in a lifetime experience. I can't imagine what it was like to actually be there.

Once again, thanks

So now what do I do every night before I go to bed? Oh well, back to Tom Clancy.

Great job on the TR's Sean, I really appreciate the level of detail and time it took you to do these.

Thank you so much


All I need is 4.5 million bucks and a half a mile long sliver of land and maybe someone could build me my very own Shivering Timbers. ;)

Wow. Those were the best trip reports I have seen on this sites.

Not only did you write about the coasters, you really told a story...

Thanks for writing, I can only imagine the time spent typing each of them out!

Well I have started saving money already thanks to your reports. Seriously, because of the great reports of your time in Europe I have decided to go on the next tour ('06? '07?) Thank you and I hope some day I get to meet you as you seem to be a great guy.

Formerly known as coasterzach1

*** This post was edited by Coaster Zach on 9/30/2002. ***

Great reports. Like the others above, I'm really going to miss reading these. It is fantastic to see someone take the time to thoughtfully write meaningful trip reports about a tour they truly enjoyed. I get so tired of reading one paragraph TRs that only contain what the writer thought about the coasters in a particular park. These reports were like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for taking the time to write about all of the people and experiences from this tour.
WOW is the only way I can describe your series of trip reports. They really were truly fantastic, and I felt as if I was really there. I only hope that I have an opportunity for a trip so special!

*** This post was edited by Blitzjade on 9/30/2002. ***

Thanks for the Great TR's Sean. I wish I could go on a trip like that sometime!

*** This post was edited by SFgadvMAN 7/28/2003 4:53:43 PM ***

Sean: You did such a great job on these reports. I relived the trip each day. Now I have the pics on my screen saver at work and can relive some of the moments. Also, thanks for putting your heart and soul in the reports. Also, thanks for being our coach captain. I know it wasn't the easiest job, but you handled it like a true Irishman!

Phyllis (who is proud of her son)!



Glad to hear you had such an amazing time overseas this summer. I've really enjoyed hearing all about it! I especially liked hearing the travel details between parks. Thanks for taking the time to share!


Jeff Tobe


As everyone has stated, you did an awesome job in these TR's! You not only caught the feel, but you also caught the atmosphere of what all those days on the road were like.

Your reports brought back many, many memories of a true "Trip of a Lifetime" (so far) which was only a couple of months ago.

You know I took over 4000 pictures (yes, that's 4094 to those reading) but, I didn't even come close to capturing the "feel" of the trip as you did. Especially in the small things.

I'm glad I got to share such a great portion of my trip with you. It's odd though, the only time I've seen you this year, Europe. Go figure.

You were a great coach captain. Despite the conflicts and mishaps, you maintained your composure quite well though everything. For those that don't know, he took a lot of heat, from a lot of people, but he stuck it out and did a great, great job!

I also wanted to say "Hi" to Nigel. Sean is right on when he says that Nigel really made the trip for us. I want to echo that statement. He was supposed to be a driver, a host and a guide. He was all that, but turned out to be a friend as well. That's what made the trip special.

Thank you Nigel. I know you're reading.

Thanks Sean, for all of the reports. All 75,897 words. Like the trip, they flew by.



Thanks so much for this great series, some of the best trip reports I've ever read. Having the photo links helped a lot with visualizing the story you were telling. An awesome job! I'm bummed they're over, however. Let's all take up a collection and send Sean somewhere else!


I feel just like the others. After reading all of them I feel like I went on the trip. I actually had dreams that I did believe it or not.


I honestly don't know what to say but thank you.

I just can't believe so many people read every report. That took a lot of time and I am flattered you would find my words and pictures intresting.

Thanks again everyone!


After reading all of your reports I am convinced that I shall soon be begging for a park trip atlest to England.

I also would like to say that I was not pleased with the service at DLP or it's hotels. They don't seem to care as much as in the U.S. parks. We had a form for exit entries because my mom was in a wheelchair at the time for stepping on a nail and they said that only one of us could go on the ride with her because it was their policy even though on the form it said up to 3 people. Well, I had many other expirences like that there and just wasn't impressed. BTW, after reading about your cab expirence, I'm glad my family took the free bus last time.

After being cancelled more times than I can count with one finger, the main event of my summer o-three:
5 people vs. 15 parks & 103 costers and counting

Thanks for the awesome TR's and pictures, Sean! I looked forward to reading them every day and I'm missing them already. Week 2 sounded like it was also a blast and I'm kicking myself for not doing both weeks. Next time ACE does a similar trip, I'm going for the ENTIRE time!

Thanks again!


I'm with Sue on that one. Given that I could only do one week, I'm glad I picked the week I did (it will be VERY hard for any single day to ever beat the Southport/Blackpool combo), but I really wish I could have done both.

Thanks, Sean, for allowing us to have at least some idea what a great time it was.

"Now all I want is to find a way home, to warn Earth -- look upward, and share the wonders I see..."
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I would dearly love the link to the entire two week diary. I found out yesterday that a good friend of mine is very possibly going back to London for at least an 18 month stint, possibly permanently. If so, I'll be planning an 2-3 week vacation to Europe.

As I mentioned before, your TR's would make a very helpful park guide

I'd rather die living than live like I'm dead

Hey sean-can you just make up TR's just for fun??? Just make up parks and stuff. Im gonna miss reading them!!!

chuckles-the cheeky monkey at pontins!

Have you thought about sending these reports to Roller Coaster! magizine.

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