One of the advantages of TCC membership is the opportunity to attend chapter meetings throughout the US, Canada, and Europe and share stories with like-minded fellow travelers. You can expect a warm welcome at any of our meetings. If traveling, be sure to check out chapter dates on our Web site.
Meet the St. Louis, Missouri Chapter
By Charles Merkel
The St. Louis chapter’s beginnings can be traced to the 1990s, when Gig Gwin, one of the original lifetime members, held several informal meetings. As Gig’s travel business grew, the meetings became less frequent and eventually ceased. Gig kept in touch, though, and contacted new members in the area as soon as they were initiated. When Gig contacted me in 2006, after I had become a member, I became interested in reviving these meetings. We held several annual and biannual meetings until we became a recognized chapter in 2013. We are indebted to Steve Fuller of the Kansas City chapter for his help in making this a reality.
We have worked closely with Steve and have attended each other’s meetings and shared speakers from time to time. Another group we work closely with is the International Travel Club of St Louis. Founded in 2000, it has grown to be one of the largest clubs of its kind in the nation, with more than 200 members. Several of their members have graduated to becoming TCC members. We also have held several joint meetings with this group.
We begin our luncheons with a social from 11:30 a.m. to noon, when members can meet newcomers and exchange travel information. We then travel around the table and introduce ourselves and relate our latest travel related escapades. Next, we follow the usual TCC format with a luncheon and a presentation concluding at around 2:30 p.m. One of the formats that we have used from time to time is the Skype meeting. Using Skype, we have been able to enlist speakers to narrate presentations from remote locations such as Brazil, South Africa, and California.
One of our more interesting presentations was “Musings of a Opium Buyer,” in which the speaker talked about traveling the world for a chemical company to buy some of the world’s stockpile of confiscated opium. “Travessia das Amériacas” told about a couple’s road trip from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska. Our Kansas City connection brought us Mike Wood, speaking about the “Black Mambas,” an anti-poaching organization in South Africa; and Arlene Segal, speaking about some of the most difficult destinations on Earth.
Meetings have been held in several venues in the St Louis area, including the History Museum; “the Hill,” which is the Italian section of St. Louis, and the Schneithorst’s BierKeller, among others. Lately we have held meetings at the Edgewild Restaurant & Winery in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, which is close to where most of our members live. We have consistently averaged 20 to 30 travelers per meeting.
Since St. Louis is known as the “Gateway to the West,” we have paraphrased this for our chapter motto, which is the Travelers’ Century Club the “Gateway to the World.” We truly believe in the quote attributed by some to our fellow Missourian, Mark Twain, that “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”