If you watched the Fantasy Alaska tour on Discovery television’s “The RVers”, you probably saw Fantasy WagonMasters John and Carol Tesley briefing the group one evening while they were camped on the Homer Spit. That was the third time the Tesleys had made the 61-day Alaska trip – first as guests, last year as Tailgunners and this year as WagonMasters. We caught up with them in Arizona as they were preparing to assist with the Taste of Mexico Rally. After a short break, they were then headed to Baja for the Fantasy Baja Whale Watching Tour.
Residents of Crestline, California, John and Carol were initially attracted to working as WagonMasters in 2017 when they attended a Fantasy seminar at an RV Rally in Arizona. After the seminar, John walked up to a Fantasy WagonMaster and said, “How do I get a job like yours?” “Simple,” was the answer. “Go on a tour, see if you like it and if we like you.” Coincidentally, someone had just canceled their reservation on the upcoming popular 61-day Alaska trip. The Tesleys took their place, signing up on the spot. “It was the one trip we wanted to do,” says Carol. “And we had the time of our lives. Afterwards, we interviewed with Fantasy and, that fall, we went to WagonMaster training. Obviously, they liked us, and we love the lifestyle. We’re having the time of our lives.”
In addition to their three trips to Alaska, John and Carol have worked at the 2019 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. In 2020, in addition to the Mexico tours, they’ll be working at the Reunion Rally in Palm Springs and will be the RallyMasters at the 2020 Balloon Fiesta in October. This summer, they’ll be back in Alaska, but with a slightly different itinerary – leading the 52-day Alaska Deluxe Tour, departing June 11.
When asked about their favorite tour, the Tesleys laughed – saying of course, it’s Alaska, with Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta a close second. “But ask us again in three weeks,” says John. “Our answer could be very different.” “We’re excited about every itinerary,” adds Carol.
Prior to moving to California to work for the Forest Service, John was born and raised in Illinois. He later worked as an engineer in local government for 27 years. Carol has a degree in recreation and worked for nonprofits and youth organizations, developing outdoor activities and trips. She transitioned into computer drafting, spending the last 20 years self-employed, working from home. “It allowed me to be a real soccer mom, taking our kids back and forth to school and spending time raising our family.”
The Tesleys started RVing 32 years ago in a VW van, moving up to a Class C when their children were younger. Today, they travel in a Winnebago Class A 40’ Vectra diesel pusher. When they’re not traveling with Fantasy, you can still find them on the road much of the year, typically spending winters in Florida or the Southwest.
Wherever they go and whoever they are traveling with, John and Carol have a great time. On their Alaska tours, they visit Dawson City's Sour Dough Saloon where they led those brave enough in the group in enjoying a SourToe Cocktail…a shot of alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage and a dehydrated cadaver toe, yes, a toe. Apparently, the toe must touch one’s lips, and then you are initiated into the SourToe Cocktail Club! They also visit the Midnight Dome in Dawson City the night before they cross the Yukon River, their last night in Canada.
John and Carol believe that group travel is the way to go, particularly on long destinations like Alaska. “Like us, one of the main reasons people initially consider joining a group is for safety, to have backup. Traveling to Alaska is a long way, and it’s nice to have other people to help along the road,” says John. “Everything is planned for you. Campgrounds are reserved, you don’t have to worry about a thing.” “But once people travel with Fantasy, they see the joy of traveling with friends,” adds Carol. “That’s what we learned when we toured the first time. We had so much fun. It’s the joy of making friendships which makes people come back.”
“Because everything is planned for you, you get out and do things,” says John. “If you’re on your own, you might skip something, decide it’s too expensive, or you just don’t feel like going out that day. But if you’re in a group you get out and see the best of the best. It is totally worth the value.”
“We just love being part of the Fantasy family,” says Carol.
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