Once upon a time (1972, to be more precise), Dan spent six months abroad with his family learning German, eating bratwurst, and exploring Europe in a VW Beetle. Twenty years later, while he was toiling away as a CPA, his father George said, “Dan, I’ve just converted my tour company to a walking format and need some help. Would you be interested in traveling the world to plan fascinating walks, meet interesting locals, find intriguing cultural activities, and then share the Adventure with a fun and active group of travelers?” Dan considered the offer for about 30 seconds, then grabbed his overcoat and handed his resignation to his boss on the way out the door. In 1996, when George retired, he handed the company keys over to Dan. So now you know how the fairy tale began and why Dan is compelled to “count noses” on the coach.
Robert and Amy call the Pacific Northwest their home after being raised in opposite ends of the country. Growing up as the Chief Navigator and Co-Pilot for his own cross-country family vacations, Robert got the travel bug early in life; but it was a high school trip to Austria and Germany that really fostered his love of travel! Robert has an appreciation for hiking, geography, history, and teaching which he imparts to travelers on tour. His wife Amy also loves walking and travel, as well as experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. Between trips, Amy also homeschools their three children, who, needless to say, are becoming experts in geography! Robert and Amy look forward to seeing you on the trail!
Lee & Loraine are homegrown Oregonians; Lee hails originally from the Tillamook cheese-making country and Loraine from Eugene in the southern Willamette Valley. We knew they had “the right stuff” to guide our Adventures when, in his first season, Lee cheerfully suffered the indignity of donning the obligatory long johns during the Newfoundland Screech-In ceremony; not surprisingly, he was immediately dubbed “Papa Smurf.” Before they joined the WAI team in 1999, Lee’s real job was in banking and Loraine was a teacher. As a much loved part of the Walking Adventures family, we’ve appreciated their good humor, great ideas, and attention to detail. But should you have any trouble with them out there on the trail, just remind them that they come from a state where colleges name their teams “Beavers” and “Ducks.”
Tim and Jeannette have the dubious distinction of sharing the last name Friesen with certain other Team members (Tim is Dan’s “little” brother). Tim spends the school year as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, and is occasionally known to burst into song on tour in places other than the shower! Jeannette works part time in the office helping travelers over the phone and generally keeping us organized! Tim and Jeannette currently lead summertime walking adventures in Ireland and Great Britain, and are looking forward to the time when they can leave their day jobs behind and hit the trail on a year-round basis.
Russ Isom and Scott Isom are a father/son team who share a passion for the outdoors and serving people. Russ grew up on a farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and when he decided to follow a calling into church ministry with his wife Judy in Milwaukee, Oregon, Scott was one of the many good things that resulted. Scott ultimately followed his dad’s footsteps into the ministry and currently lives in Puyallup, Washington, with his wife Debbie and their three girls. Russ and Scott love to hike and backpack, and enjoy athletics of almost any kind. They’ve trekked the Pacific Crest Trail from the California-Oregon border to Canada, and climbed several of the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Range peaks. These two know how to have a good time, and have spent their careers including others in the fun. They both look forward to sharing the Adventure with some of the best travelers on the planet!
Pat and Denise both grew up in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. Pat’s career path led him into science, particularly geology, and he ended up sharing his knowledge as a high school teacher for 32 years. Denise followed her passion in the arts and developed her craft as a sculptor, sharing her creations with an appreciative clientele through her own small business. Before their destinies were joined, Pat lived several years in Puerto Rico, Spain, Wales, and other areas of Europe where his father was employed as a teacher with the Department of Defense. Later, Pat and Denise returned to Europe with their young family where Pat taught school for a couple years near Naples, Italy (can you say “gelato”?!). Their overseas exposure has made them naturals to lead our international Adventures. Nevertheless, the Lemmons also love being “homebodies,” and if you were to visit them at their small farm near Mt. Rainier, you might find Denise tending the garden with a grandchild or two in tow, and Pat puttering around on his tractor.
Debbie Zimel and Sandy McNamara are long-time pals who worked together for many years hosting international student groups in the Pacific Northwest. Debbie lives in Oregon City and is sometimes accompanied by her husband Doug, and Sandy lives with her family in Spokane, Washington. Both are former teachers who love sharing their travel experiences with an entirely new type of “classroom.” Debbie also serves double duty here in the office as an Adventure Consultant, answering the phone and tracking down answers for travelers. Debbie and Sandy always keep the Adventure headed in the right direction with a gentle touch and a sense of humor that is contagious. And as long as you don’t make any disparaging remarks about Debbie’s beloved Portland Trailblazers, you’re guaranteed her sunny disposition for the entire tour.