Bus Trips from The Villages

Joan Patricia Stetler


​​Many people ask me "JP Tours? What does that stand for", so here is my story..

Back when I was in 9th grade, my mom and I took a road trip, just her and I. Our destination: Washington DC. Since I could not drive, I was my mom's co-pilot. As we got closer to DC, the traffic was getting heavier, and there we were, just the two of us trying to get to our center city hotel. Well, we did it. Just the two of us and a map.

The Next year, I went with my high school to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. I was so excited that I would be traveling without my family. Wouldn't you know it, there were 3 seats left, and my mom decided to go along! I was not happy. I thought, "there goes all my fun". During that trip, my mom teamed up with some of the other chaperons, so I only saw her on the tour bus.That is, until we arrived in Munich. As I sat in the lobby of our hotel waiting for my mom, I thought to myself "Boy am I luck she is on this trip"! When I saw her, I jumped up and yelled "MOM"! Her response to me was, "let me guess, you're out of money". I gave her a sweet smile and she handed over some money. During the following year, we drove together to visit my sister in Canada. Again, just the two of us and a map! These trips taught me to love everything about travel.

At 21, I, along with 2 friends, moved to the US Virgin Islands. Most of my family was just shaking their heads because of the adventures I had already taken. A few even thought it was time at 21 to get my feet planted in the ground and get my head out of the clouds. Though my mom was worried, she had faith in my choices and trusted my decisions. Plus, I knew she would always have my back. Off I went.

Of course, my first visitor to St. Thomas was my mother. Her co-workers loved that she took vacation in the winter, which left the summer open to everyone else. She visited every year of the 10+ years that I lived there, and believe me, we took advantage of those trips. We went sailing visited other islands, shopped, and shopped some more!

During this time, my career in the hospitality business began. I was a hotel manager in St. Thomas for eight and a half years. I was proud to live in such a beautiful destination and being a part of making people's dreams come true. Over those 10 years, I had traveled the world promoting tourism to the US Virgin Islands. Each of those trips I shared my stories and pictures with my mom. In her mind, she visited those same places through my eyes.

When I moved to Orlando in 1992, again my mom was my first visitor. With each visit, she stayed longer and longer after she retired. We explored and visited most of the state and had a great time. During those years, we took the opportunity to travel together. We toured Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and France. Our last European trip was to Italy (3 months after her triple bypass surgery), where we took a walking tour of Rome, had dinner in a home of a past mafia godfather, took a private train to Florence, and of course - Shopped. Then we flew on to England, where we toured the entire city of London, took pictures in Notting Hill (remember the movie?), visited castles, and shopped some more!

My mother considered herself very, very lucky to have been able to see so many parts of the world. Her eyes would shine so brightly with every trip we took. My mother passed away in 2006, and from that day, my life was forever changed and my trips began to miss something. I am so blessed to have traveled with her. You see, Joan Patricia Stetler is the one who gave me my wings to fly and encouraged me to soar. What better way to honor my mother than to continue to have her fly with me.

​               ~Evelyn Stetler

Who is JP?