In This Issue:
FEATURED TRIP: Magnolia Holiday
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: A Passage to British Honduras
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Golden Gate Holiday
BEHIND THE SCENES: Art in the Parks
THE WAY IT WAS: World War II in New Orleans
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Sailing with the Small Ships
DID YOU KNOW? Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Tea at Sea
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Winter Corn Casserole
TRAVEL TIPS: How to See Chicago
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: Top Three Things You Didn’t Know About Yellowstone
IN YOUR OWN WORDS: Guests Speak Up
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR NEWSLETTER READERS
FREE NIGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO! Receive an additional post-trip hotel night in San Francisco at the conclusion of our 7-day Golden Gate Holidays train tours embarking June 11 and August 6, 2016. 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 Monday, February 29.
We have long been fond of Memphis, home of the Blues, Rock and Roll and a rich history, as well as Natchez, simply one of the most charming and picturesque towns in America, famed for its magnificent plantations and Southern hospitality. The only thing nicer than visiting these two cities at the perfect time of year is adding a third great destination, New Orleans, and we are delighted to feature all three in one brilliantly organized holiday with fine hotels, wonderful dining and a leisurely pace. Best of all, our vacation concludes with travel from New Orleans to Chicago aboard Pullman Rail Journeys superb overnight service, a private 1950s era train of great elegance with Pullman sleeping cars, fine dining and excellent service, traveling over the historic Illinois Central “Main Line of Mid America” celebrated in song and verse.
Our 10-day Magnolia Holiday journey is one of the nicer trips to the South we have ever created, with two- and three-night hotel stays in every city but one, iconic features like the famed Arch in St Louis, the marching ducks in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, and a visit to justly-famed Café du Monde in New Orleans for the best café au lait and beignets on the planet. All sightseeing and admissions are included as is a professional tour manager to handle all of the details so you need only to worry about what dessert to order at the celebrated Palace Café in New Orleans. Truth be told, there is only one flaw with this leisurely holiday and that is that it operates only twice so prompt reservations are most wise.
Beginning at just $2,995 per person and offered twice only on March 12 and November 26, our 10-day Magnolia Holiday journeys will sell quickly so call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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A Passage to British Honduras
Join us on a journey from downtown Chicago to the jungles of Central America by vintage train and ocean liner on our 12-day A Passage to British Honduras. We begin in great comfort with an evening departure from Chicago to New Orleans aboard the finest train to operate in this country for decades, Pullman Rail Journeys’ superb overnight vintage train. Guests then enjoy a two-night stay in New Orleans at the French Quarter before the centerpiece of our holiday, passage on the acclaimed Norwegian Dawn to exotic Belize, formerly British Honduras and one of the most fascinating places on Earth. With the second longest barrier reef in the world, lush jungles filled with jaguars, ocelots and wild monkeys, Belize is a place of stunning natural beauty, famed for its breathtaking Mayan ruins at Altun-Ha. During our port call in Belize, there is time to tour these magnificent Mayan ruins. Happily, Belize is not the only exotic port of call on our passage from New Orleans, we also visit Costa Maya in Mexico's Yucatan, popular Cozumel and delightful unspoiled Roatan, in Honduras which rarely visited by cruise ships and highly rated by our guests. After a relaxing voyage, our guests enjoy Pullman Rail Journeys’ private train back to Chicago.
Beginning at just $2,895 per person, this 12-day trip departing Chicago on March 17 and December 1 is an ocean liner and train lover’s dream. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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Golden Gate Holiday
In 1877, Leslie's Magazine printed a now-famous article titled “Out West on the Overland Train” describing passage over the recently completed Overland Route of the Union Pacific Railroad to San Francisco via the daylight crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, the party continued onto the fabled Palace Hotel, a wonder of the age, for a stay in San Francisco. Interestingly, this vivid article was re-issued as a book in 1967 during the Centenary celebration of the Transcontinental Railroad by Richard Reinhart, who traveled over the same route aboard the City of San Francisco, the remaining Overland Route train at that time.
It is with this prelude that we offer a one-time journey west, over the same historic Overland Route this June, from Salt Lake City to Northern California traveling through the same places that evoke the mystique of the Old West. The Overland Wagon Trail, Emigrant Gap, Donner Lake, Dutch Flat, Cape Horn, Gold Run, Blue Canyon, Hangtown and Sacramento are just some of the historic places we pass through. And perhaps saving the best for last, we end up at San Francisco's fabulous Fisherman's Wharf.
This holiday a visual feast because as we travel west, we do so in a splendid private Vista-Dome Streamliner, our very own Great Western Limited, complete with Pullman sleeping cars with real beds and soft pillows, fine dining (all meals, wines and spirits while aboard are included in the fare) and all of the little touches like fresh flowers, elegant menus, an attentive staff and a professional tour manager to make our journey a civilized passage. Beginning with the superb Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City followed by a two-day stay at the wonderfully located Embassy Suites in the heart of California's Napa Valley and, of course, the Sheraton at Fisherman's Wharf, this is a relaxing and luxurious vacation. We have included such treats as a trip aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train as well as a visit to colorful Sausalito, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge to round out this stylish holiday. Since the capacity of the Great Western Limited is restricted to only 48 lucky guests, prompt reservations on this one-time excursion are highly recommended.
Beginning at just $2,495 per person and offered twice only on June 11 and August 6, our 7-day Golden Gate Holiday will sell quickly so call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
Art in the Parks
America’s National parks are inspiring. That’s why almost all of our trips feature a visit to at least one national park. But how are people inspired by our parks? Here at Uncommon Journeys, we get letters and emails featuring beautiful descriptions and even a poem or song or two. We know our guests take sketchbooks and cameras to capture their personal, unique perspective of these timeless treasures.
But America’s national parks have inspired not just Uncommon Journeys guests for the past 25 years but numerous artists for generations. But this year, things are ramping up quite a bit as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) celebrates its 50th anniversary and the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its 100th birthday.
The NEA and NPS are commemorating these milestone anniversaries with an award of nearly $800,000 to support 33 projects to a special grant initiative called “Imagine Your Parks”, which encourages the American public to celebrate the arts at national parks around the country.
“Imagine Your Parks” grants are awarded through the NEA Art Works grant category to projects in which the arts engage people with memorable places and landscapes of the National Park System. The National Park System includes not only national parks, but also national historic sites, trails, rivers, seashores, landmarks and national monuments, heritage areas, preserves, battlefields, recreation areas, and more.
“The ‘Imagine Your Parks’ program is a testament to the commitment of the National Park Service and the National Endowment for the Arts to celebrate and protect America’s national and cultural treasures,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “’Imagine Your Parks’ unites our missions by introducing a new generation to our National Parks and connecting art projects with the natural, historic and cultural settings of the National Park System. Through this grant program we will see new commissioned art works created specifically for these special places, like a new dance by the troupe BANDALOOP to be performed in Yosemite National Park, and a new exhibition series on civil rights heroines in Atlanta, Georgia, home of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site. We encourage the American public to take part in ‘Imagine Your Parks’ projects, and experience our nation’s great heritage.”
“These grants build on a strong tradition of the arts in national parks, from the first stunning photographs of Yosemite and Yellowstone more than a century ago, to artists-in-residence and other programs in parks today,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Inviting a new generation of artists to explore the meaning and majesty of national parks is a great way to celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, and to inspire more Americans of all backgrounds to connect with these remarkable places.”
“Imagine Your Parks” grants support art projects that encourage the creation of and greater public engagement with art about the National Park System. The funding encourages partnerships with park areas or programs. “Imagine Your Parks” also supports projects that promote public engagement in urban environments, or that engage younger generations with the National Park System. Projects may take place at and around the National Park System, or may take place elsewhere in the United States with a focus on the work and mission of the National Park Service.
The 33 projects range from a traditional Tlingit Song Writing Workshop with Alaskan students at Glacier Bay National Park, to the Native American Composer Apprentice Project at the Grand Canyon Music Festival, to a special symphony series in St. Louis, Mo., Berkeley, Calif., and Washington, D.C., blending music composition and national park imagery and engaging students in creative workshops inspired by the piece. Information about arts programs in parks can be found online at http://www.nps.gov/subjects/arts/index.htm.
World War II in New Orleans
When we think of Mardi Gras and marching bands strutting down the street while playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” and we think of those ubiquitous colored beads worn around every neck, we think of New Orleans. We also think of the genteel oak-lined streets of the Garden District and its historic mansions, each with a story to tell. But we don’t tend to think of the world’s greatest conflict.
One of the jewels in the city’s crown of that revival is the National World War II Museum, an outgrowth of what was once a museum dedicated to D-Day. New Orleans might seem an odd location for such a museum until you realize that a great many of the landing craft that stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 were built by shipyards in New Orleans.
But an entire museum complex of buildings and exhibit halls and artifacts have sprung up around the original structure and tell the story of America’s involvement in World War II. One is the film that puts into perspective the true horrors of war and the more than 50 million people who died worldwide. The numbers and the brutality are staggering. It is a beautifully done film aided by three-dimensional set pieces that give a sense of the raw sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and of those who were unable to be saved in time.
We would also dare anyone to make their way through the hall dedicated to the Holocaust and not emerge without tears running down their cheeks. The millions who died in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazis are both honored and humanized. The numbers are so inconceivably large that it can become almost impossible to bring them back down to a human scale but this poignant exhibit does so in a way that educates and moves you. For me, it is a painful portion of the museum to experience but it is utterly essential to truly grasp what was at stake and what was lost in the worldwide conflagration.
The other section of the museum that surprises guest in its emotional impact is the hall dedicated to the air war and which features actual aircraft from the war, including a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber somehow suspended from the ceiling, its 100-foot wingspan practically touching the walls. We’d suggest you read a superb book called Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller about the role the Eight Air Force played in the defeat of Nazi Germany so to get the story behind the story. You’ll know the conditions in which American airmen flew, particularly before escort fighters such as the P-51 Mustang had been developed and the bombers had to find their industrial targets without protection. In those early years of 1942 and 1943, Americans were slaughtered by the thousands as they tried to bomb Nazi factories and oil refineries to grind the machinery of war to a halt. Losses of a 100 bombers at a time, more than 1,000 men, were considered acceptable losses. By the end of the war, more men in the Eighth Air Force had died over Germany than all Marines in all theaters of war around the world. The men of the Eighth had to accept and live with the fact that bombing in the 1940s was a shell of the pinpoint accuracy of today and that less than 20% of bombs landed within even a half mile of the target. There were no smart bombs guided by lasers. Women and children died if bombs missed their targets. The incidence of mental breakdowns among bomber crews was understandably among the highest in the armed forces.
These three things - the film, the Holocaust exhibit and that lone B-17 hanging quietly from the ceiling - encapsulate the true horrors of war on all sides. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is an extraordinary place. We urge you to enjoy the culture and the life that the city has to offer…after all, that is the American way of life the greatest generation fought to preserve. But also take the time to visit this museum and understand the sacrifices it took to make it so.
A three-night stay in New Orleans is part our 10-day Magnolia Holiday train tours departing March 12 and November 26. You’ll also enjoy private train travel on our restored Vista-Dome Streamliner as well as multiple nights in Memphis, Natchez and St. Louis.
Not every cruise is created the same. With the profusion of megaships each year, it may be hard to believe that there are other alternatives, such as the traditional ocean liners of companies such as Cunard Line and Holland America Line, as well as the fascinating small ships of firms such as Blount Small Ship Adventures and Un-Cruise Adventures. Our 20-day Great American Waterways cruise tour departing June 30 on Blount’s Grande Caribe is one of our most sought-after small ship voyages. In this picture, you can see why.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to note in your email that we can use it for marketing purposes.
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There are many different ways to enjoy afternoon tea. Personally, we don’t think there’s any right way or wrong way. But we do think there are some ways which are far better than others. Despite the fact our trips don’t stand on formality, we find that our guests adore afternoon tea.
And the closest you can come to traditional afternoon tea in England is to sail on Cunard Line. The best spot is aboard a Cunarder at sea. You realize it would be foolish not to enjoy afternoon tea on the ship since it oozes authenticity. You’re not only surrounded by British servers, you’re voyaging on an English icon on the ocean, one of the last bastions of refined service and a dedication to the nuances of proper afternoon tea.
The china is bone. The silver teapot is polished. The watercress sandwiches precise in their appearance and taste. The scones light and heavenly. The clotted cream rich and delicious. The petit fours packaged like little jewels. And outside the windows, the ocean stretched from horizon to horizon. It is utterly transcendent, delightfully decadent and gloriously real.
You will never forgot that moment. While some might argue that the essence of proper English tea is enjoyed in a an estate overlooking the rolling green countryside, for me there is no better location than while sailing aboard an ocean liner. Tea at sea was meant to be.
In 2016, we have a few trips with the opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea at sea the way only Cunard Line can serve it. Our 7-day 4th of July with the Queen cruise departing June 30 and our 12-day Canada and New England with the Queen cruise tour departing September 30 are the perfect choices to take tea to the next level at sea. The second two trips include passage on the legendary Queen Mary 2. Bon voyage!
“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” Anna Quindlen
Winter Corn Casserole
As blizzards sweep across the country and we huddle inside by the fireplace, comfort food becomes the order of the day. One of our favorites is a delightful corn casserole with some sour crème and cheddar cheese that punctuates the sweet notes of the corn. Trust us, this is a dish you’ll keep going back for again and again. Of course, if you’d rather avoid the cold next year, you could always join us on one of our winter cruises from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean or from California to Hawaii. But if you can’t warm your skin with the rays of the sun this winter, this corn concoction will warm you from the inside. Although as good as this recipe is, we still prefer a winter cruise!
How to See Chicago
The Windy City is one of our favorite places to start and end our train trips. We encourage our guests to spend some extra time in the city on their own and in this month’s Travel Tips I wanted to share a few photo a guest sent us recently of their day seeing the sites in downtown Chicago. If you want to experience the thrill of exploring the Second City and then departing or arriving on a train as part of an Uncommon Journeys train tour, we have several wonderful options.
Try our 10-day Magnolia Holiday train adventures to the Deep South roundtrip from Chicago departing March 12 and November 26; our 12-day Passage to British Honduras cruise/train tours roundtrip from Chicago departing March 17 and December 1; our 14-day Great Western Explorer train tours roundtrip from Chicago departing May 14 and October 22, our 15-day Best of the West train tours roundtrip from Chicago departing June 11, July 9, August 6 and September 3; our 10-day Wonders of the West train tours departing June 24, July 22 and August 19; our 20-day Great American Waterways cruise from Chicago to Newport departing June 30; and our 10-day Journey to the Great Smoky Mountains train tour from Atlanta to Chicago departing October 8. All aboard!
We’ve been sending guests to national parks such as Yellowstone for many, many years but sometimes even we’re surprised to learn new things about one of my favorite parks. Here are the top three things we never knew before:
1 – YOU CAN BECOME A NATURALIZED CITIZEN IN THE PARK
Yellowstone National Park hosted a ceremony for 37 immigrants as they became official US citizens late last year. The Honorable Mark L. Carman, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Wyoming, held court at the base of the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces near historic Fort Yellowstone under blue skies.
The 37 immigrants sworn in during the ceremony originated from 22 different countries: Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Guyana, Guatemala, Iraq, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, Nepal, Philippines, Romania, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. They all currently live in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
"Yellowstone National Park is proud to host the naturalization ceremony because national parks are places that belong to every American citizen. We invite our newest citizens to visit, to learn, to volunteer, and to have fun in our national parks. National parks have been called 'America's Best Idea', and all citizens should learn about the shared heritage and shared stories that have been preserved for future generations," said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Steve Iobst.
2 – THERE ARE TOO MANY BISON
Members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) recently adopted a winter operations plan that aims to reduce the current population of 4,900 animals. Because the Yellowstone bison population has high reproductive and survival rates, it will be necessary to cull 600-900 animals to offset the population increase expected this year. IBMP managers will decrease the through public and tribal hunting outside the park, and capturing bison near the park boundary and then transferring them to Native American tribes for processing and distribution of meat and hides to their members.
Bison are a migratory species and they move across a vast landscape. When they are inside Yellowstone, they have access to all habitat. But in the winter, when some bison migrate to lower elevations outside the park in search of food, the surrounding states and some private landowners don’t offer the same access to habitat. Wild bison are only allowed in limited areas outside of Yellowstone because some are infected with the disease brucellosis that can be transmitted to cattle. Also, there are human safety and property damage concerns in some areas. The size of the population and the level of tolerance outside the park are two issues often debated by the IBMP partners and their constituents.
Currently, it is against state and federal laws to move any wild bison exposed to brucellosis anywhere except to approved meat processing or research facilities. The park is currently studying the feasibility of developing quarantine facilities for bison, which would allow animals that repeatedly test negative for brucellosis to be sent alive to other public, private, or tribal lands for conservation, hunting, or food production.
3 – RECORD VISITORS
In 2015, there were 4,097,710 “visits” to Yellowstone National Park, up 16.6% from 2014, making it the highest visitation year on record. The number of “visits” is always greater than the actual number of individuals who came to the park because people may enter and leave the park repeatedly during a stay in the area.
The National Park Service’s “Find Your Park” public awareness campaign, marketing and tourism promotions by the states of Montana and Wyoming, and lower gas prices contributed to the record number of visits.
Yellowstone is included in trips such as our 15-day Best of the West train tours departing June 11, July 9, August 6 and September 3; our 16-day Yellowstone to Denali cruise/train tours departing June 12, July 10, and August 7; our 10-day Wonders of the West train tours departing June 24, July 22 and August 19; and our 12-day Great National Parks of the West train tours departing July 4 and August 9.
Guests Speak Up
“Please accept this letter of appreciation for a job 'well done' by your staff on our Wonders of the West Tour. Being a first time rail vacation my wife and I were unsure of what to expect. Tour Manager Conrad Tausend relieved all our uncertainties. We choose the escorted tour because we wanted to see as much of the beautiful National Parks as we could, (and we will do more) have the ability to view all the beauty of the lands (rather than keeping your eyes on the road because you are driving) and to ensure that we see the greatness all the parks had to offer (due to familiarity). Conrad always explained to us what was to be expected and any concerns that there may be for people who had limitations. He had truly made this trip fun. He was a history teacher, a game show host, and a true friend that was passionate about what he did. His choice of associates was a major plus. Ricardo, our bus driver, continuously maintained the bus in a peak condition and made every effort to load and unload at the closest point to our destination. Every evening the windows were cleaned and the bus as well. Water was also provided everyday if the passenger wanted something to drink. Ricardo truly was a blessing. Michael, our Park guide, was a true gift who was informative, dedicated and passionate about parks. You have quite a team; keep up the great service you provide.”
“We were on the Wonders of the West trip with Conrad Tausend and can’t say enough about him as a Tour Manager. He was perfect! On some of the longer bus rides he kept us informed with factual information as well as delightful stories of significant people of the area we visited, (which made us forget how long we were sitting!) He was considerate, good humored, patient, well informed and efficient. Your company was quite wonderful also with all the lovely extras provided, (boxes of chocolates at the beginning of the trip, and ice cream treats at the town of Grand Teton.) The accommodations at the hotels were lovely and we enjoyed the trip tremendously. We just wanted you to know what a gem you have in Conrad as an employee.” – Helen & Paul
* 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 Monday, February 29, 2016 and is only available for new bookings.