Tim and Lori Smith may be relatively new Fantasy Ambassadors, but they’ve been a part of the Fantasy family for many years, traveling as guests on the Western National Parks, National Parks of the North, Autumn in New England and the 32-Day Canadian Atlantic Provinces tours.
“Our very first trip exceeded our expectations,” says Tim. “We’d never heard of Fantasy but a friend had just returned from a Fantasy tour to Alaska and gave us a catalog, all the while singing praises of the company.”
“After we’d had so much fun on the tours, we just decided we wanted to work for Fantasy,” explains Lori. “We thought they were a good value and all of our WagonMasters and TailGunners were absolutely wonderful.”
Tim and Lori grew up in Florida and met while attending the University of Florida. After 48 years of marriage, they have two children and seven grandchildren. Prior to full timing, they spent most of their lives together in Arlington, Texas. Tim initially worked for local television stations as a reporter and news anchor. After 19 years of TV news, he spent 22 years as Director of Media Relations and a company spokesman for American Airlines. Prior to her retirement, Lori was a teacher -- first as a speech pathologist and then teaching second grade and kindergarten.The Smiths have been RVing for more than 20 years – starting with the proverbial pop-up trailer, then graduating to travel trailers, a couple of 5th wheels and they now live full time in their 40’ Newmar Ventana motorhome.
In her free time, Lori took a course on the wildlife and ecosystems of Texas and has become a volunteer Master Naturalist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. She leads children’s nature walks, teaching them about local flora and fauna. She also monitors native bluebirds and their nests.
Today, when they’re not on the road with Fantasy, the Smiths return to Arlington to spend time and holidays with their children and grandchildren. “We generally travel for three to four months, then go home for about three months,” says Lori. “It’s a good balance.” There’s a convenient RV park only two miles from their former home.
The Smiths first Fantasy tour assignment was as TailGunners on the Great Lakes tour, and this year they returned as WagonMasters on the Best of the Maritimes tour. “Fantasy gives us a fantastic opportunity to travel and meet wonderful people, which we love doing anyway,” says Tim. Lori says she looks at each trip as a “giant lesson plan” which she needs to implement. “I find them all a lot of fun. They keep us busy, active and interacting with others.”
The Smiths couldn’t identify a favorite Fantasy tour. “They’re all so different and we love the variety,” says Tim. “The scenery, the wildlife, and activities are all so diverse. The journey itself and the places you go also complement meeting great groups of people.”
Prior to every tour, the Smiths call every guest. “One of the things we always ask is if they would allow us to share their contact information with the other guests,” says Tim. “They may not realize it initially, but we tell them they will enjoy staying in touch with each other after the tour.”
“You start out on a trip with 48 people who don’t know each other,” adds Lori. “It’s really fun to watch them come together and form a community. They end up watching out for each other, becoming true friends. By the end of the tour, we’re a unit.”
And the Smiths intend to keep it that way.
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