In This Issue:
FEATURED TRIP: Elegant Canadian Rockies
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: 4th of July with the Queen
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Peaks to the Pacific
BEHIND THE SCENES: Haven on the Rails
THE WAY IT WAS: History at Sea
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: View from a Train
DID YOU KNOW? Healthy Parks, Healthy People
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Surprising Waterton
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Natchez-Style Beignets
TRAVEL TIPS: Insider Guide to the Queen Mary 2
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: Getting the Most Out of Grand Teton
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR NEWSLETTER READERS
FREE NIGHT IN DENVER! Receive an additional pre-trip hotel night in historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver before our 10-Day Peaks to the Pacific train tour departing September 30, 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 Thursday, March 31.
Elegant Canadian Rockies
If you’ve been talking recently with a friend or family in the Northeast or Midwest, they probably weren’t too happy. As one family member told an Uncommon Journeys team member, “Sometimes it seems like Mother Nature has completely forgotten that summer even exists.” They were up to their ears in snow, biting winds, ice and slippery roads. It’s probably not surprising that now is the time of year when bookings surge for our summer-only vacations and space starts to go quickly. If you wait until spring to book, you just might be left behind.
One of our favorite summer trips is our 8-day Elegant Canadian Rockies train tours departing June 23, July 21, August 18 and September 15. There is nothing more glorious than summer in the Canadian Rockies, especially when coupled with a train ride along Puget Sound and through the Cascades.
While there are many tour programs to the Canadian Rockies, only Uncommon Journeys offers one with a magical and nostalgic beginning. Travel aboard a 1940's style private Vista-Dome streamliner train, our own Great Western Limited, to stunning Glacier National Park, Montana. Enjoy a manner and style of train travel that has all but vanished with a choice of Pullman sleeping car accommodations, featuring private facilities, comfortable beds, fluffy pillows and turn-down service. Onboard, there is an inviting dining and lounge area for relaxing. Meals are freshly prepared onboard by a skilled chef and served on tables graced with fresh roses and white linen. All meals, wines and spirits while aboard are included and there is simply no finer way to travel from Seattle to glorious Glacier National Park.
At Glacier National Park we have included the storied Going to the Sun Road on the famed red open-air “jammer” buses but this is only an entreé to our next visual treat, breathtakingly beautiful and seldom-visited Waterton National Park in Alberta. Waterton is a charming village many of our guests consider the highlight of their Canadian Rockies holiday. Then travel to Banff, stopping en route at the acclaimed Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy 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 but we have included visits to lovely Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Yoho National Park and more. However, there’s 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, our 8-day Elegant Canadian Rockies train tours departing June 23, July 21, August 18 and September 15 will sell quickly so call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details. So slough off those winter blues and set you sights on summer with Uncommon Journeys!
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4th of July with the Queen
Join us for a star-spangled 7-day 4th of July with the Queen cruise tour on June 30 that celebrates Independence Day in Boston Harbor, with its fantastic evening fireworks display! We have the grandest possible location for this spectacular visual treat, the Queen Mary 2, the greatest ocean Liner afloat, and docked overnight in Boston Harbor for this epic event. Nicely, Boston is just one of the great features of this short affordable mini-cruise. We set sail from New York on July 1st and enjoy a full day at sea aboard this great ship before our arrival in historic Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 3rd where there is a full day to enjoy this colorful port. Naturally, there is an excursion available to nearby much photographed Peggy’s Cove, famed for its great lobster meals. After Halifax, we steam south to Boston arriving there at noon on July 4th, with ample time to explore Boston and enjoy the Fireworks later this evening. July 5th is spent at sea, giving you time to explore the many amenities of Queen Mary 2 including the Canyon Ranch at Sea Spa, the largest ballroom afloat, the largest library afloat and the only ocean-going Planetarium! There are acres of open deck, swimming pools, grand dining and more choices of enjoyment than most small cities. Queen Mary 2 does very few shorter cruises and this is a rare chance to sample this extraordinary ship without spending a huge amount of time or money.
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Peaks to the Pacific
Here at Uncommon Journeys, we know what our guests like. Each year we run many of our most popular trips from prior years, often with a tweak here and there to offer an even better vacation based on the feedback of our guests. Bur only a few times a year do we launch an all-new itinerary and that’s why I’m so excited to present our 10-Day Peaks to the Pacific train tours departing April 1, and September 30, 2016.
Join us on this very special journey of discovery from the Colorado Rockies to where the Pacific begins in San Francisco. We’ll visit some of the most fabled hotels in the country along the way, including the stunning Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. With visual treats like Pikes Peak, the High Sierra passage over the original Transcontinental Railroad, Yosemite National Park and the Golden Gate Bridge, seldom has one holiday packed more beauty into one elegant and leisurely vacation. And, offering something only available from Uncommon Journeys, our guests enjoy travel aboard our own exclusive vintage Streamliner train, the Great Western Special, from Colorado to California. Onboard, there are comfortable Pullman accommodations, fine dining with our own chef and little touches abound, from welcome gifts to a lovely afternoon tea.
The holiday begins in grand style at the historic Brown Palace Hotel in Denver with an overnight stay and plenty of time to explore Denver before departing for one of the most acclaimed resorts in America, the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs for two indulgent nights. With amenities including swimming pools, a superb spa, golf, tennis and riding, there is enough here to keep busy for a week. Not to mention the glorious vies of the Rocky Mountains since the Broadmoor is cradled in the mountains’ foothills. In Colorado Springs, we offer a trip aboard the legendary Pikes Peak Cog Railway, rising to over 14,000 feet for a view that will take you breath away.
After two nights at this opulent resort, guests board the Great Western Special for a journey west to California, an overnight passage via the Union Pacific Railroad to Sacramento. After a visit to Old Sacramento and an overnight stay aboard the famous Delta King steamboat, it’s just a short drive to Yosemite National Park and the extraordinary Ahwahnee Hotel, for a two-night stay. Words do not do justice to Yosemite or the Ahwahnee and this is simply one more visual spectacle on a trip filled with many.
Next up is San Francisco for a three-night stay at the ultra-luxe JW Marriott at Union Square with an elegant mixture of free time and included highlights such as a breakfast at Cliff House overlooking Seal Rock at Lands' End beach as well as a visit to colorful North Beach and picturesque Sausalito along with plenty of free time. While the train is called the Great Western Special, in fact the entire program is quite special, due in part to being limited to only 24 lucky guests. Alas, with such an intimate scale, the legendary hotels and the special train, both departures will sell out quickly so prompt reservations are highly encouraged to avoid disappointment. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!
Beginning at just $5,295 per person and offered twice only on April 1 and September 30, our 10-Day Peaks to the Pacific train tours will sell quickly so call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
Haven on the Rails
At Uncommon Journeys, one of the things that appeals the most to travelers is our great many trips that include an overnight journey on our private train, the Great Western Limited. While some of our guests remember what train travel was like in the heyday of the Streamliner era in the 1940s and 1950s or have taken short trips of just a few hours between major cities on commuter trains or Amtrak, for many it is their first time on a long distance train and certainly their first time on a private train.
The fun of a private train is that passengers aren’t getting on and off at each stop. Everyone boards in one city and leaves in another as the second phase of our tours begin. The group becomes a family and conversation flows freely. Wines, spirits and beer also flow freely since we have an open bar policy while aboard the Great Western Limited. Our staff quickly learns your name and your drink preferences and before you can even think to ask, they’re at your elbow ready to bring you your favorite libation. And unlike today’s trains with packaged sandwiches or even vending machines, we serve a multi-course meal with silver cutlery, fine china, and white tablecloths.
But our guests are most fascinated by their accommodations for the evening. There is nothing more enjoyable than savoring an after-dinner drink in our dining and lounge car chatting with new friends while knowing that a cozy Pullman stateroom awaits. During the day, each stateroom boasts a comfortable couch but, quite honestly, rarely used since most of our guests prefer to sit in the expansive banquettes of the dining and lounge Vista-Dome Streamliner car to enjoy the 360-degree view and the camaraderie of their fellow travelers.
While our guests dine, our stewards unobtrusively head below and convert each stateroom into a sleeping cabin. The large couch is transformed into a berth and an additional berth, completely hidden in the wall, folds down. The beds are turned down and the bathroom restocked with sundries. Each bathroom is small and efficient, some with ingenious fold-down sinks while others have a sink in a niche in the sleeping compartment. There are strategic reading lights that illuminate each berth making the temptation of relaxing with a good book irresistible for many guests. The pillows are soft, the blankets warm, and the beds comfortable. Each Pullman stateroom is a cozy, ergonomic, delightful haven on the rails.
But one of the best parts is the expansive picture window in each room. There is nothing in this world more enjoyable than curling up in bed, your nose almost pressed against the glass, watching the nocturnal world flash by. Across the plains the lights of a grain silo, a railroad crossing, and the tidy bustle of a small town race by. In the mountains, lights are rarer but on those glorious nights when the moon illuminates the landscape, the result is absolutely magical.
All the while, the gentle movement of the train rocks you to sleep and the click-clack of the tracks becomes a soothing metronome that has a hypnotic effect. Despite your excitement and desire to stay awake to see everything the world has to offer outside your window, you’re lulled into a wonderful traveler’s sleep on the rails.
History at Sea
One of our most valued travel partners are making news. At Uncommon Journeys, we offer several trips with Cunard Line on the Queen Mary 2 such as 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. Cunard has just announced some fascinating photos will be included in the refurbishment of the Queen Mary 2.
We find it wonderful that Cunard’s former office buildings in Britain and North America are to become an integral part of the fleet’s flagship Queen Mary 2 during her major 2016 refit. The Cunard Buildings in Liverpool, New York and Southampton will each be featured in a specially-commissioned set of images that will be displayed in the ship’s suites and staterooms when she re-enters service following her three-week refit next June.
Behind the images is renowned UK architectural photographer, Paul Ward, who accepted the Cunard commission and spent a month researching, visiting and photographing the buildings. Ward’s work started in December at the Cunard Building in Liverpool, this year celebrating the centenary of its opening as the line’s headquarters in 1916. It remained the global focal point of Cunard operations until 1967 and in 2004 became part of the City of Liverpool’s acclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site at Pier Head overlooking the River Mersey.
Moving to Manhattan, Ward spent time studying and photographing the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway, which is highly noted for its architectural significance and grandeur, with the entrance lobby and first-floor ticketing office designated a New York City Landmark in 1995.
The last of the former offices photographed in the current commission is South Western House in the company’s home city of Southampton, a Grade II listed property in England which signifies and preserves the special architectural and historic interest of the building.
Queen Mary 2’s major 25-day refit will see all Princess and Queens Grills Suites and all Britannia Club staterooms, together with more than half of balcony staterooms redesigned. Fresh design schemes and fine details will pay tribute to the original Queen Mary’s iconic art deco heritage while keeping this grand ocean liner at the forefront of luxury. During her time in dry dock, Queen Mary 2 will also receive a wide range of upgrades, including the addition of 30 new Britannia Club Balcony staterooms and 15 Britannia Single staterooms.
A selection of Paul Ward’s photography can be viewed online. For Liverpool, visit http://bit.ly/1SekqCl, for New York City http://bit.ly/1PAiChc, and for Southampton http://bit.ly/20mJ2bu.
For me, there are so many appealing aspects of traveling by train, it’s difficult to pick my favorite. I’m quite fond of the personalized service. The cuisine is superb. The settings are elegant, with flowers on every table, white tablecloths, fine china, and gleaming silver cutlery. There are the intimate staterooms in the sleeping cars, tidy and orderly with big picture windows showing you the world pass by as you snuggle into the fluffy blankets. There are the complimentary wines and spirits on our private train, the Great Western Limited.
But then there’s the view. Trains take you beyond the highways and you travel at “see” level, not suspended 35,000 feet in the air. While you dine, views surround you in our restored Vista-Dome Streamliner cars. The views are there as you enjoy an after dinner drink. They’re there as you chat with new friends, read a book or play cards. The views are more than just a thing - they’re everything.
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.
It seems like when our Uncommon Journeys guests come back from a trip to a national park, whether it be American or Canadian, that they come back with a new attitude as well. There’s something about seeing unspoiled nature, breathing clean air, seeing crystal clear lakes and streams, and watching wildlife roam the landscape without fear of traffic or humans that takes us back to a state of bliss, a state many of us forget in our everyday lives. It also raises of awareness of what a world without belching factories, trash-strewn landscapes, honking cars, paved parking lots, and glaring fast food restaurant signs can be like. And it reminds us of the importance of protecting our natural resources for future generations.
It turns out the National Park Service (NPS) feels the same way as well. Under the banner of “Healthy Parks, Healthy People: Connecting Health and Nature,” the NPS and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) have partnered to increase awareness among people of all ages and all walks of life about the benefits of contact with nature for health and wellness.
NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis and PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne formalized the partnership with a signing ceremony at PAHO headquarters after which the two leaders took a walk to the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. Under this new agreement, the two organizations committed to collaborate in promoting the health and well-being of people of the Americas through initiatives that support a healthy planet and healthy humanity.
“Human health and well-being depend very much on our connections to the environment, from our need for clean air and safe water to our enjoyment of outdoor activities,” said PAHO Director Etienne. “Through this partnership, our two organizations will be better able to raise public awareness of the important connections between health and the environment, and to advocate for policies that protect and promote them.”
"We are honored to partner with the Pan American Health Organization, to deliver on key actions that will advance parks as go-to-resources for healthy living,” said NPS Director Jarvis. “This partnership is a great example of a collaborative action that will advance one of our key goals of connecting people to parks, as we approach our NPS Centennial in 2016.”
Under the new agreement, PAHO/WHO and NPS will collaborate on events including World Health Day, the World Parks Congress, Great Outdoors Month, U.S. National Park Week, and the Healthy Parks Healthy People International Congress. They will also share links with each other’s networks to facilitate new alliances with organizations throughout the Americas, including national and local governments, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the private sector, youth networks, and other community-based organizations.
In addition, PAHO/WHO and NPS plan to carry out research and evaluation projects and other joint initiatives in areas such as evaluation of health equity, analysis of health indicators, and health risk and impact assessments.
Here at Uncommon Journeys, we applaud this partnership. As a company that has taken thousands of people to national parks over the past 26 years, we recognize the importance of preserving the land, respecting the beauty of nature, and planning for the future.
There is nothing more fun than taking an Uncommon Journeys vacation, figuring out what will be the highlights beforehand, and then running into an unexpected hidden gem that is just as dramatic as the “big” attractions to which you were looking forward. Our 8-Day Elegant Canadian Rockies train tours departing June 23, July 21, August 18, and September 15, 2016 offer just such a moment in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.
Before departing, it seems like there are several highlights. The ride in our private train, the Great Western Limited, along Puget Sound and through the Cascades to Glacier National Park is one. Staying in an historic lodge on Lake McDonald inside Glacier National Park or the excursion over the Continental Divide on the Going to the Sun Road in the famed red “jammer” buses is another. Three glorious nights in Banff with two included dinners, trips to the sapphire beauty of Moraine Lake and the stunning grounds of the hotel hugging the shores of Lake Louise are no slouch either. A gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain overlooking Banff with a 360-degree panoramic view of the show-dusted peaks of the Canadian Rockies is, literally and figuratively, a clear highlight.
But it is the night we spend in the little town of Waterton, located completely inside Waterton Lakes National Park, which is the surprise hit of the trip. We stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel perched on a bluff overlooking an alpine lake ringed by mountains. The hotel itself is one of Canada’s National Historic Sites and opened on July 25, 1927. Canada’s park service describes it as having a “striking design” that along with its location, makes it “Waterton's most recognized landmark.”
The origins of the hotel date back to 1910 and the Great Northwestern Railway’s James Hill who, having visited Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and the adjacent Glacier National Park in the United States, wanted to make the area a “playground of the Northwest.” He built a number of hotels, roads, camps and boats to get people to form and around the area. When he found a site on a bluff overlooking Upper Waterton Lake, it was too good to pass up. His other hotels were in the United States but his resort in Canada boasted “soaring roofs, gables and balconies conveying the appearance of a giant alpine chalet and enclosing a magnificent timber-framed interior that continues to evoke the rustic atmosphere of mountain lodges built in that period.” It is a wonderful reminder of the Golden Age of Rail Travel.
“Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battutn
We love that staple of the South, beignets and in a few weeks will be announcing an exciting new travel partner that will cover the area in depth. Until then, here is a taste of the South by acclaimed chef Regina Charboneau, a Natchez tradition herself. When cooking beignets, do not overcrowd them in the oil. Just do a few at a time and let the oil come back up to temperature between batches by waiting a minute or two, or they will not cook properly.
Insider Guide to the Queen Mary 2
Many of our Uncommon Journeys include a cruise either as the primary core of the trip or in addition to train touring as well. One of our most popular partners is Cunard Line and we know from experience that figuring out just what to expect on a trip, and packing and planning accordingly, is half the battle. We thought you might be interested in Cunard Line’s answer to some of their most frequently asked questions, as displayed on the Cunard website at www.cunard.com/frequent-questions/faq/. You’ll also find questions about traveling, packing and shore excursion there as well but we present the key bits of info about life onboard and what to expect. Below are some of the insider guide tips for traveling on the glorious Queen Mary 2. Bon voyage!
How many formal nights are there?
Is there Internet connection on board?
Will I need money on board?
Will I be able to clean my clothes on board?
Are there medical facilities on board?
What is the smoking policy on board?
Are there any other places to eat on board?
What if I need a special diet?
Are there any bars or lounge areas on board?
Can I bring alcohol on board?
Will I be able to attend religious services?
You can experience the Queen Mary 2 on our 7-day 4th of July with the Queen cruise tour departing New York on June 30 and featuring an evening fireworks display in Boston Harbor or on our 12-day Canada & New England with the Queen cruise/train tour departing September 30 with a train trip through the fall foliage from New York to Montreal and then an autumnal voyage on the Queen Mary 2 from Montreal back to New York. Both trips feature an overnight pre-trip stay in New York at the acclaimed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
In a partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and Google, Grand Teton National Park's David T. Vernon Collection of American Indian artifacts will be featured in the Google Cultural Institute, a digital platform which makes hundreds of culturally significant objects in the National Park Service's museum collection available online. The Google Cultural Institute photographs and virtually maps important artifacts, photos, records and works of art to share with global audiences and digitally preserve them for future generations.
Grand Teton National Park has 75 objects from the David T. Vernon Collection featured as part of the partnership with Google Cultural Institute. The objects featured include a number of saddle bags, dresses, belts, vests, moccasins, cradleboards, and tools. Each object is accompanied by a brief description of the item which tells the story of the object and provides a window into American Indian life and culture. The digitization work for this online collection was made possible through the support of Grand Teton National Park Foundation and Grand Teton Association. More objects may be photographed and uploaded to expand the online museum in the future.
Laurance S. Rockefeller purchased a 10,000 item collection from Indian artifact collector David T. Vernon in 1965. Seven years later, Rockefeller transferred a portion of that collection totaling 1,428 items to Grand Teton National Park. For more than 40 years, the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum displayed and housed that collection in the park. Currently the collection is undergoing conservation work at the Western Archaeological Conservation Center in Tucson, AZ. More than 80 objects have returned to the Colter Bay Visitor Center and the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center.
* 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 Thursday, March 31, 2016 and is only available for new bookings.