Richmond rocked!

by Eliza Myers 30. August 2011 22:51

Evening entertainment at the Science Museum of Virginia

On August 23, 2011, an earthquake shook the city of Richmond, Va., and ensured an exciting start to the Going On Faith Conference. Although only lasting for a few seconds, the quake made for an unforgettable first day of conference registration.

That evening, attendees learned that even rats could be trained to play basketball at the Science Museum of Virginia’s evening reception. Delegates watched an African-themed show with actors in traditional African garbs and music, before wandering through the museum’s main exhibits. One exhibit in lab room showcased rats showing off their basketball dunking skills.

The next day, delegates listened to a moving presentation by Tucker Davis about the Honor Tour program. The program enables WWII veterans to tour Washington D.C. for free. Davis told several emotional stories about veterans getting to see D.C.’s war memorials for the first time.

At the marketplace, vendors could meet with religious group leaders via Skype for the first time at the Going On Faith Conference. After sightseeing tours around Richmond, sweet smells and gorgeous blooms decorated the walkways at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s reception. After dinner, attendees were able to pursue the flowers at their leisure before an evening song and dance performance in front of the historic Bloemendaal House.

Roger McCurry’s presentation on faith-based travel kicked off Wednesday’s marketplace. To illustrate his points, McCurry demonstrated a few magic tricks he had picked up over the years to entertain groups. For the final lunch reception, attendees watched a NarroWay Productions preview of their many religious-based theatrical shows.

First marketplace appointment via Skype

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden


2011 GOF Conference

One of my favorite cities in one of my favorite states

by Bob Hoelscher 3. August 2011 19:32

Portland Skyline and Mount Hood

Portland, Ore., is a city I always enjoy visiting even though I have been there numerous times. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard that it rains there all the time, an exaggeration no doubt originated by someone who spent the winter months there, a time of year during which you and your group members are highly unlikely to schedule a visit. 

My latest Portland trip came complete with glorious sunshine and daytime temperatures around 72 degrees, which is very difficult to improve upon!

Portland is a different kind of city. First, it boasts a great public transportation system. It costs a whopping $2.35 to get quickly from the airport to anywhere you might be headed in the heart of the city, as well as just about everywhere else in the metropolitan area, on the MAX light rail system.

Indeed, transportation on the MAX and the Portland Streetcar is free between all points in the central part of the city, on both sides of the Willamette River. It is also a very “green” city. Not only does the visitor find standard trashcans on street corners, but also adjacent recycling containers so that much of the waste can be reprocessed. 

One does not even need to carry bottled water if doing extended sightseeing or shopping, since convenient water fountains (many of the historic “bubbler” type) can be found throughout the city. I’ve continually been amazed since all of them I’ve encountered actually work! 

Lest I forget, the downtown area is vibrant, the city is clean, and the residents friendly. If you’d like more information on Portland and the surrounding area, I’d suggest that you contact Greg Eckhart at Travel Portland. He’s one of the most helpful and professional “DMO” representatives in the country. Greg can be reached at (503) 275-9756 or

Bob Hoelscher, CTC, CTP, MCC, CTIE, is a longtime travel industry executive who has sold his tour company, bought a motorhome and is traveling the highways and byways of America.  He is a former chairman of NTA, and was a founding member of Travel Alliance Partners (TAP).

Well-known in the industry as both a baseball and symphony aficionado, Bob is also one of the country’s biggest fans of our national parks, both large and small.  He has already visited more than 325 NPS sites and has several dozen yet to see.  He is currently traveling the country to visit as many of those parks as possible.  His blog, “Travels with Bob,” appears periodically on The Group Travel Leader’s blogsite, “Are We There Yet”.

Bob is available for contractual work in the industry and may be reached at or by calling (435) 590-1553.

Shop in Old Town Historic District

Street corner recycling receptacle


Portland perfection

Portland markets

by Bob Hoelscher 3. August 2011 19:29


Farmer's Market, Pioneer Courthouse Square

My most recent Portland trip fell on a weekend that, before my arrival, I thought nothing special was happening.  Wrong!  A wonderful display of classic cars was to be found in the streets surrounding the exceptional Portland Art Museum. 

Another substantial exhibition of “green” vehicles (all-electric and hybrid cars) was a few blocks away at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The gala final concert of the Oregon Bach Festival was being held at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. 

An important major league soccer match between the hometown Timbers and visiting Seattle Sounders was the talk of the town. A big bicycle race and accompanying “street fair” was based at Lloyd Center. 

Of course, the “Portland Saturday Market” was also in full swing. Interestingly enough, the market, reportedly the largest continuously operated open-air market in the country, is also open on Sundays. Finally, before my departure on Monday, a Farmers’ Market had replaced the ecologically correct cars on Pioneer Courthouse Square!          

Saturday Market


Portland perfection

Exploring the Rose City

by Bob Hoelscher 3. August 2011 19:25

International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park

On my recent trip to Portland, Ore., I explored many of the outstanding sights for which Portland is famous. Washington Park is one of the finest city parks in the nation.

Here one can find the truly extraordinary International Rose Test Garden, where some 8,000 colorful bushes encompassing more than 600 varieties are displayed on three terraces overlooking the city. Nearby is the peaceful Portland Japanese Garden, one of the most authentic outside of Japan itself. 

Among other park attractions are the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, and the Portland Children’s Museum. Portland also boasts the restored Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance showplace filled with priceless antiques, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Oregon Historical Society.  

Visitors can also explore Chinatown and the Old Town Historic District, take a cruise on the Willamette River aboard the Portland Spirit, and even learn of shady deals and unscrupulous characters from Portland’s colorful past on an Underground Tour. 

Japanese Garden, Washington Park

International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park


Portland perfection

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