In This Issue:
FEATURED TRIP: Great National Parks of the West
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: Yosemite to Denali
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Elegant Canadian Rockies
BEHIND THE SCENES: Naming of Denali
THE WAY IT WAS: Traveling the Columbia River
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Glacier Bay
VIDEO OF THE MONTH: Going to the Sun Road
DID YOU KNOW? The Making of a Legend
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Steamboats on the Columbia
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Strawberry Balsamic Parfait
SHIP OF THE MONTH: Oosterdam
TRAIN OF THE MONTH: Great Western Limited
TRAVEL TIPS: Packing for Alaska
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: The Bison of Yellowstone
IN YOUR OWN WORDS: Guests Speak Up
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR NEWSLETTER READERS
FREE EXTRA LUXURY HOTEL NIGHT before our 12-day Great National Parks of the West train tours departing July 7 and September 1, 2015. Note that this is an EXCLUSIVE offer that is made available ONLY to subscribers of this e-newsletter and must be redeemed by calling Uncommon Journeys at 1-800-323-5893. This offer expires Friday, February 27, 2015.
Great National Parks of the West
This 12-day Great National Parks of the West train tour features a private restored VistaDome Streamliner train, our very own Great Western Limited. The only holiday to feature Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yosemite all in one glorious holiday, this trip also boasts of two nights in San Francisco with a fine hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf. Never before to our knowledge has there been an elegantly crafted tour to the Great National Parks of the West that offered up, in one glorious vacation, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Yosemite, with a scenic crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and time in San Francisco as added benefits. Nicer still, our guests enjoy something that no other western holiday offers, travel aboard our own classic 1940s era vintage streamliner train with VistaDome cars for your viewing pleasure. With a sensible pace (most of our hotel stays are two nights long), comprehensive sightseeing throughout, a professional tour manager to handle all of the details and much more, there is simply no nicer nor better way to travel from the Crown of the Continent at Glacier National Park to Yosemite than this holiday.
• Two-night stay in quaint Whitefish, Montana with complete touring of stunning Glacier National Park including the famed Red Jammer buses over the extraordinary Going to the Sun Highway.
• Overnight visit to Yellowstone National Park with comprehensive sightseeing including Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
• Two-night visit to Jackson, Wyoming with touring of Grand Teton National Park and a float trip on the Snake River.
• Train travel from Provo, Utah to Sacramento aboard the Great Western Limited, an overnight journey in Pullman sleeping car comfort over the Union Pacific Railroad. All meals, wines & spirits are included aboard your private train.
• Full day visit to Yosemite with complete touring and overnight at the Yosemite View Lodge along the rushing Merced River.
• Two-night stay in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf with Bay Cruise and Farewell Dinner.
• A leisurely relaxed pace with more time in Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National than most tours offer.
• Many meals including breakfast daily.
• Complete sightseeing from start to finish including all admission fees, excursions and transfers.
• Fully hosted by a Professional Tour Manager.
Beginning at just $3,295 per person, this 12-day trip departs on July 7 and September 1. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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Yosemite to Denali
This is a visual feast with San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, the Cascade Mountains, Seattle, Vancouver, the Inside Passage with Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Seward, Denali, Anchorage, and the McKinley Explorer train all in one exquisite holiday.
• Full-day trip by train to Yosemite National Park with a guided tour of Yosemite Valley and overnight spent alongside the lovely Merced River. A special treat is breakfast at the fabled Awahnee Hotel in Yosemite.
• Sleeping car accommodations aboard our own vintage Streamliner train, the Great Western Limited, with all meals, wines & spirits while aboard. We have our own chef and stewards and this is a most civilized way to travel with classic dining, fresh flowers and elegant surroundings.
• Two-night stay in Seattle at the Westin Hotel.
• Seven-night Inside Passage cruise from Vancouver to Seward aboard the elegant Oosterdam of Holland America Line taking in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Glacier Bay.
• The luxurious McKinley Explorer, a private train operated by Holland America Line from Denali to Anchorage. Guests also have the opportunity to book passage aboard the storied White Pass & Yukon railway during the call in Skagway.
• Two-night stay in Denali National Park at the McKinley Chalet Resort with Tundra Wilderness Tour.
Beginning at just $4,495 per person, this 17-day trip departing June 15, July 13 and August 10 is much more than just an Alaska cruise.
Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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Elegant Canadian Rockies
While there are many tour programs to the Canadian Rockies, only Uncommon Journeys offers one with a magical and nostalgic beginning, travel aboard a 1940s style private Vista-Dome Streamliner train, our own Great Western Limited, to stunning Glacier National Park, Montana. At Glacier National Park we have included the storied Going to the Sun Highway on the famed red open-air 'jammer buses' and this is only an entrée to our next visual treat, breathtakingly beautiful and seldom-visited Waterton National Park in Alberta, a charming village many of our guests consider the highlight of their Canadian Rockies holiday. We then travel to Banff, stopping en route at the acclaimed Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for a four-night stay in the heart of Banff Township. Few tours offer four nights in Banff and this allows time not only to see the nearby area and we have included visits to lovely Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park and more, but also large amounts of free time for you to enjoy this remarkable mountain setting at your own pace. All sightseeing in the Canadian Rockies is included. Many meals are also included with such treats as breakfast at Chateau Lake Louise one day and dinner one evening at Le Beaujolais overlooking the Bow River, one of the highest rated restaurants in Canada.
Beginning at just $2,995 per person, this 8-day trip departs on June 25, July 23, and August 20 and September 17. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
Naming of Denali
Denali National Park is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,320-foot Mount McKinley. Wild animals large and small roam unfenced lands, living as they have for ages. Solitude, tranquility and wilderness await. But Denali wasn’t always Denali, it was once named after its largest geographic feature, Mount McKinley. Though named after President McKinley, the park’s name immediately was controversial because the native inhabitants had always referred to the mountain as Denali, an Athabaskan word for “high one.” Prospector William A. Dickey created the problem back in 1897 when he decided to name the mountain after the nation’s newest president. Twenty years later when President Wilson Denali created a national park surrounding the mountain, McKinley National Park seemed the logical choice. The name stood for the next 63 years until respect for the native people and their land won out and the park was combined with Denali National Monument as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the expanded footprint was officially renamed Denali National Park. At the same time, the Alaska State Board of Geographic Names decided to erase all remnants of President McKinley and also renamed the mountain as Denali as well. Interestingly, the park name is now Denali but the mountain is still referred to primarily as Mount McKinley. The mountain is such a symbol of Alaska, no matter what name it is called, that it made it onto America the Beautiful Quarter Series in 2012. Denali (both the national park and the mountain) is a key destination on our 17-day Yosemite To Denali cruise tours departing June 10, July 13 and August 10.
Traveling the Columbia River
It turns out that travel on the Columbia River back in the 19th century was anything but an enjoyable voyage. It was a grueling necessity to get from Point A to Point B and those two points, at least in the early years, were solely confined to the lower portions of the river. There were virtually no amenities; this was the frontier, after all. The Columbia, under the command of a former Mississippi riverboat captain, ran the route from Astoria to Portland a whopping twice a month at the breakneck speed of four miles an hour. Although for the time that was quite a good clip, it wasn’t fast enough that the pioneer passengers had to worry about getting bugs in their teeth!
The larger Lot Whitcomb entered service shortly after the Columbia and suddenly travelers had a choice in boats and accommodations. The problem with both boats was that they couldn’t get past Willamette Falls and in 1851 the sidewheeler Multnomah, built in New Jersey, was taken apart, shipped above the falls, reassembled and spent a year running routes farther upriver. However the river was too shallow to go very far and the venture was not a success. Over time, other boats operated on the lower stretch of the river but all were restricted from venturing farther afield by the Cascades Rapids, a treacherous patch of water that made a journey along the river all but impossible without having to go ashore to pass the falls and then reboard a different boat to continue on.Eventually, a railway, powered by mules and not steam locomotives, was built to haul people and goods around the Cascades Rapids. This odd railway remained as the only way to get past the Cascades Rapids until 1896 when the United States Army Corps of Engineers met the challenge with dynamite, blasting obstructions to smithereens and eventually building a canal around the rapids. Another canal, The Dalles-Celilo Canal, was finished in 1915 and navigating the Columbia River finally became the smooth, seamless and enjoyable experience that we know today. The Columbia River is featured on our 11-day In the Path of Lewis and Clark cruise tours departing June 18, July 16, August 13 and September 9.
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Cruise ships are the only way to see the wonders of Glacier Bay National Park. The park covers 3.3 million acres and encompasses everything from rainforests to rugged coastline to towering mountains and calving glaciers. It’s the highlight of any Alaska cruise, such as our 17-day Yosemite To Denali cruise tours departing June 10, July 13 and August 10.
If you’d like to see a photo from one of your own Uncommon Journeys trips featured in our newsletter, just email it to us at email@example.com and be sure to note in your email that we can use it for marketing purposes.
Going to the Sun Road
It’s hard to convey what a ship is really like and that’s why we were thrilled when we came across this YouTube video which takes you deck by deck and room by room through Holland America Line’s fabulous Oosterdam, which also happens to be our Ship of the Month and is featured on our 17-day Yosemite To Denali cruise tours departing June 10, July 13 and August 10.
The legendary Canadian train boasts an impressive collection of restored Streamliner rail cars but it wasn’t always that way. After World War II ended, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was operating a number of services with equipment that wasn’t quite up to snuff. Even its notable Atlantic Limited and Dominion trains consisted of older equipment. The Pullman railcar folks and General Motors, who built locomotives, created something they called the Train of Tomorrow back in 1949 and the CPR executives were more than impressed. The CPR didn’t just dip their toes in the waters of the future; they dove in headfirst and ordered 173 Streamliners to be built by the Budd Company. Of those, 18 featured domed observation cars called the Skyline series and a further 18 were of a unique rounded design for use as cocktail cars at the end of each train. Known as the Park series, they gave the trains a distinctive look, both inside and out.
A total revamp of the passenger rail services operated by the CPR mandated that only the finest designers be used and a Philadelphia company called Hough, Livingston & Larson was employed to create the interiors. Their approach was for modern tubular furniture and soothing pastel tones that made each car a little oasis on the rails. Appropriately, the Park series of bullet-ended cars were named after famous Canadian National Parks and Hough, Livingston & Larson came up with the idea of commissioning a group of seven acclaimed Canadian artists to paint murals representing the parks in each car.
In 1978, the government’s Via Rail Canada took over the Canadian from the CPR. Via Rail has rebuilt its Streamliners and the Canadian has become justly famous not just for its beautiful scenery but for its lovely cars, including the Park series of bullet-ended cars with their wonderful national park murals fully intact. The train, both for its equipment and its Canadian Rockies route, is on almost every list of the Top 10 Train Rides on Earth. Just a couple years ago, it truly reached legendary status when it was featured on the back of the Canadian $10 bill.
The Canadian is the highlight of a number of our trips in 2015, sometimes along portions of the stunningly beautiful route and sometimes for the entire journey. If you’re interested, we’d suggest our 12-day Springtime in the Canadian Rockies departing May 5; our 13-day Canadian Panorama departing May 7; and our 13-day Great Canadian Train Ride departing June 18 and October 8. A trip on the Canadian is an unforgettable experience. It’s truly the stuff of which legends are made.
Service on the Columbia was launched in 1836 by the intrepid Beaver and in the next 20 years, some of the commerce on the lower river was carried by the ocean-going ships en route to Portland. From there, goods and people had to be transferred to small, rickety sidewheelers such as the Columbia dating to 1850 which was basically a bare wooden box with propulsion. There were virtually no amenities; this was the frontier, after all. The larger Lot Whitcomb soon entered service and although she was not exactly luxurious, she did have a handful more amenities than the Columbia and boasted the lightning fast speed of 12 miles an hour. The problem with both boats was that they couldn’t get past Willamette Falls and in 1851 the sidewheeler Multnomah, built in New Jersey, was taken apart, shipped above the falls, reassembled and spent a year running routes farther upriver. However the river was too shallow to go very far and the venture was not a success. The James P. Flint was actually winched along this railway in 1850 to reach the middle section of the Columbia River. She wasn’t a success but that didn’t stop a second boat from being winched upriver in 1853 which, it turns out, did prove to be profitable. The Columbia River is featured on our 11-day In the Path of Lewis and Clark cruise tours departing June 18, July 16, August 13 and September 9.
“To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.” John Muir
Strawberry Balsamic ParfaitRecipe courtesy of Martha Holmberg/Fine Cooking
Time and time again, our guests on our private train, the Great Western Limited, tell us their favorite dessert is the intriguing Strawberry Balsamic Parfait. It doesn’t seem like balsamic vinegar should go into a dessert, let alone a parfait, but the combination of this tart and sugary treat is a real crowd-pleaser. Bring a little bit of life on the rails into your own kitchen and try this lovely recipe at home.
In a large frying pan, combine the vinegar and sugar over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring, until syrupy, about 1 minute or so once it’s come to a simmer. Watch out for the vinegar fumes, which can be startlingly potent! Add the berries and simmer, stirring gently, until they start to collapse and the juices are running but the berries have not turned to mush, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You want a balance that is fruity and sweet, with just an intriguing edge of vinegar. Chill until cold.
Have ready six parfait glasses or wineglasses. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the sauce. Scrape the remaining sauce into a food processor and pulse until the berries are crushed (leave some texture to the berries, but you can pulse until smooth, too). In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the cream, goat cheese, sugar, and salt on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form when the beaters are lifted (don’t forget to stop the mixer before lifting), about 2 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and the processed sauce and, using a rubber spatula, fold just until blended. (The mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.) Spoon about 3-1/2 Tbs. of the cream mixture into each glass. Top with about 3 Tbs. of the cookie crumbs. Spread about 3-1/2 Tbs. of the cream mixture over the cookie crumbs in each glass. Top with the remaining crumbs and then with the remaining cream mixture. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours (the cookie crumbs will soften a bit). Top with the strawberry halves just before serving.
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Officially christened in 2003 by Her Dutch Royal Highness, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, Oosterdam is the second in legendary Holland America Line’s series of Vista-class ships. As such, she embraces the latest industry and environmental technologies such as her use of a diesel-electric power plant for optimal energy efficiency and an Azipod propulsion system that maximizes maneuverability.
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Great Western Limited
Train travel is about the ambiance and nostalgia of rail transportation. At Uncommon Journeys, we try to raise the bar even higher with our own private rail cars, such as the Great Western Limited. While the traditional décor, high-end service and sense of comfort on the Great Western Limited are a big draw, we hear the most accolades about our cuisine.
We have plenty of ways to start your day. Many guests opt for eggs, home fried potatoes and a choice of bacon, sausage patties or country ham while other like to add in an Angus breakfast steak instead of the other meat choices. Real (not canned) corned beef hash with eggs are one of my favorite choices. Naturally, there’s plenty of coffee, tea, toast and fresh fruit, jams and jellies. A wonderful indulgence is our strawberry and banana stuffed French toast. The strawberries and bananas are mixed with a cream cheese compote and surrounded by a perfectly-cooked and crispy piece of French toast. Those looking for a lighter breakfast lean toward our fresh fruit bowl with berries, granola and yogurt or our cooked oatmeal with brown sugar raisings, sliced almonds and fresh fruit. We also offer everything from orange and grapefruit juice to tomato and cranberry juice.
Of course, breakfast is just the beginning of a day of fabulous dining on the Great Western Limited. There’s always a special soup, which changes daily, offered to get the taste buds warmed up for the entrees. Some of our guests prefer a light garden salad with a choice of Illinois Central Dressing or Pullman French Vinaigrette or an authentic Caesar salad which can be prepared to include roast chicken or filet of salmon. Our chilled tomato stuffed with chicken salad, tuna salad or cottage cheese and served with a refreshing pasta salad and fresh fruit often hits the spot. While our traditional grilled cheese sandwich gets a twist by being prepared with hearty Texas Toast and served with bread and butter pickles, traveling through the western plains and seeing fields full of grazing cattle often inspires our guests to order our Mainline of Mid-America Burger served on a special Pretzel Roll. Personally, I’m always drawn to our Capellini Pomadoro. The angel hair pasta tossed with a tomato cream sauce and topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella is perfection on a plate. Top the meal off with a warm brownie or soft chocolate chip cookie and it’s a miracle I don’t sleep the entire afternoon away!
As tasty as breakfast is and as delightful as lunch can be, dinner is the spotlight event on the Great Western Limited. First, imagine tables set with fine china and a scene that is ever-changing as you zip across the countryside. You might start dinner with a view of a canyon, savor your entrée alongside a river and indulge in a decadent dessert in the mountains. That is the beauty of train travel.
And what’s on the plate is as memorable as what you’ll see out the windows. Our relish tray not only features the standard celery sticks and assorted olives but also spiced watermelon cubes that are so good you’ll be asking for the recipe. The garden salad is just the start of a meal where entrees include roasted Angus beef tenderloin with a Madeira demi-glace, herbed roasted breast of chicken with mushroom and sherry cream sauce, and pan-seared filet of salmon with vermouth caper butter and lemon wedges. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to love our roasted seasonal vegetables serve with herbed goat cheese and roasted red pepper coulis. Berries are the order of the day for dessert with chocolate mousse served with fresh raspberries or you may choose the strawberry-balsamic parfait with whipped cream and cookie crumb topping. In fact, check our Taste for Travel section on this newsletter for the recipe for this delicious dessert.Among the many, many trips that include a ride on the Great Western Limited are the 8-day Elegant Canadian Rockies train tour (Our Journey of the Month) which departs on June 25, July 23, and August 20 and September 17; our 17-day Yosemite to Denali cruise/train trip (Our Cruise of the Month) departing June 15, July 13 and August 10; and our 12-day Great National Parks of the West train tour (Our Featured Trip of the Month) departing July 7 and September 1.
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Our friends over at www.alaska.org have a few tips on what to pack for Alaska. Our Yosemite to Denali trip features a cruise so of course you’ll need some nice casual clothes for those special evenings on board, but during the days ashore, it’s time to get down-to-earth when exploring. Here are there suggestions on a few easy-to-forget items:Sun Protection
Bring a lightweight, brimmed hat for sun and rain, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Interestingly, the intensity of the sun in Alaska on a peak summer day is probably equivalent to a spring day in the Lower 48, because of the lower angle of the sun in the subarctic regions. But due to the long summer days, there are twice as many hours of daylight, so you definitely want to protect your skin.
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Guests Speak Up
"This is a quick note to tell you how much we enjoyed our recent Grand Canyon trip. In particular, the tour manager, Conrad Tausend was excellent. We couldn’t have been in better hands when things did not go precisely as planned and at all other times he was attentive and contributed much to the experience. For what it’s worth, we would love to take another trip with Uncommon Journeys. We do not like large cruise ships and would like to maximize time spent with restored luxury rail." -Dave and Marge S."My wife and I returned last month from an most excellent vacation to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. We have been fortunate to have taken a fair share of guided tours but I want you to know that Conrad was the finest tour manager we have ever had. Conrad is organized, personable and his attention to detail is second to none. We are considering more tours with your firm when Conrad is the tour manager. I would guess that you have had many more messages with positive feedback about Conrad, but I am compelled to write one more. " -Mike and Deb B.
* Note that this is an EXCLUSIVE offer that is made available ONLY to subscribers of this e-newsletter and must be redeemed by calling Uncommon Journeys at 1-800-323-5893. This offer expires on Friday, February 27, 2015 and is only available for new bookings.