In This Issue:
FEATURED TRIP: In the Path of Lewis and Clark
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: Canada and New England with the Queen
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Great National Parks of the West
BEHIND THE SCENES: The Beginning of Our National Parks
THE WAY IT WAS: The Art of the Cutaway
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Dining on the Rails the Right Way
VIDEO OF THE MONTH: The Grand Canyon Railroad
DID YOU KNOW? What Lies Beneath Yellowstone
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Ocean Liners of the Air
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Holland America Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto
SHIP OF THE MONTH: Un-Cruise Adventures’ Legacy
TRAIN OF THE MONTH: The Empire Builder
TRAVEL TIPS: New Uses for Old Items
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA:The Arch Hunters
IN YOUR OWN WORDS: Guests Speak Up
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR NEWSLETTER READERS
FREE UPGRADE on our private VistaDome Streamliner train, the Great Western Limited, on your 11-day In the Path of Lewis & Clark trip. 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, November 28, 2014.*
In the Path of Lewis and Clark
Follow the Walla Walla Wine Trail as well as the path of Lewis and Clark and enjoy the fruits of the vintner’s labor. These special 11-day voyages of discovery combine a journey aboard our own private vintage Streamliner train, the Great Western Limited, from California to lovely Portland, where an overnight luxury hotel stay awaits along with plenty of free time. With comfortable Pullman sleeping car accommodations, fine dining with our own chef (all meals, wines & spirits on this special train are included) and magnificent scenery, there is no finer way to travel to the City of Roses. Little touches abound: from welcome gifts and fresh flowers, to Afternoon Tea. Our guests enjoy not only vista-dome travel and Portland but travel aboard the riverboat Legacy on an epic journey in the path of Lewis and Clark, traveling by river all the way into Idaho. Our 11-day In the Path of Lewis and Clark tours begin at $4,895 per person and depart June 18, July 16, August 13 and September 9.
The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance website is a great source of information and does a wonderful job of explaining what makes a visit so special. “We playfully call it the ‘tippling point,’” the website says. “It’s a moment evident on the faces of most visitors to our valley. They suddenly recognize a winery—or even a single wine—as a totem of their blissful experience here. From that point forward, the sight of a particular label on a store shelf or a restaurant table evokes Walla Walla. It is both a memory of past travel and a promise of future pleasure.”
Leonetti Cellars (1977), Woodward Canyon (1981), and L’Ecole No. 41 (1983) pioneered the wine industry in Walla Walla, which received an AVA designation in 1984 with just four wineries and 60 acres of vineyards. Today, more than 100 wineries operate in the Walla Walla Valley, and some 1,800 acres of vineyards have become part of the agricultural landscape.
And typically where fine wine thrives, so do gourmet eats as evidenced by Walla Walla’s recent recognition by The Daily Meal as “America's Best Small Town for Food.” Visitors can savor the “localvore” lifestyle by sampling goat cheese at Monteillet Fromagerie, artisan chocolate at Petits Noirs, and homegrown asparagus, spinach, potatoes, green peas, string and lima beans, corn, cherries, and strawberries from local farmers markets, roadside stands or u-pick farms located throughout the valley.
The Vine at Cameo Heights Mansion is just one example of fresh food done right. The Vine features elegant dining in a country setting. Diners may choose outside patio tables or dine inside with a “chef’s table” view of the kitchen. Fine dining cuisine is individually prepared for each guest from fresh ingredients using local produce whenever possible. Stunning views of the surrounding orchard and the serene Walla Walla river valley are an added bonus.
Walla Walla is a special place and our 11-day In the Path of Lewis and Clark train/cruise tour will satisfy your passion for the finer things in life as you explore the wilderness in style on the Legacy. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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Canada and New England with the Queen
While many ships offer autumn voyages to Canada & New England, there is only one iconic Queen Mary 2, the grandest ocean liner afloat, that offers a one-time cruise next fall with a style and opulence unmatched by any other ship afloat. Heir to the great tradition established by the original Queen Mary, the original Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Elizabeth 2, this great Cunard liner combines a fabled 175-year heritage of seagoing excellence with all the modern amenities one would enjoy in a modern five-star resort. Nicer still, by combining this extraordinary voyage with the world's most legendary hotel, the fabled Waldorf Astoria along with a sailing day luncheon at storied 21 Club, it is hard to find a more comfortable and civilized way to enjoy the fall colors. With complimentary or low-cost train travel to and from the ship from your hometown, as well as transfers and much more, we have crafted a holiday that is both convenient and a superb value. Aboard Queen Mary 2, you will enjoy the majestic Britannia Restaurant, the resplendent Royal Court Theatre, the swank Commodore Club, the Golden Lion Pub, the only Planetarium afloat, and nicest of all, the grand two deck-high Queen's Room, complete with chandeliers and big band dancing nightly to a live orchestra. Little touches available on no other ship, such as the best traditional Afternoon Tea daily, performances by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the largest library afloat (not to mention the Canyon Ranch Spa and acres of open deck) make for the ultimate ocean liner holiday. With a wide choice of dining options, from casual to sophisticated, plus a casino, duty-free shopping and more, “Getting there ALL the fun.”
Lastly, our program offers a unique “One Call Does it All” arrangement for this unique sampler voyage to Atlantic Canada. We expertly arrange your train travel with your preferred routing, your hotel stay, and your cabin choice aboard Queen Mary 2 as well as travel home after the voyage. Our entire staff has traveled on Cunard Line dozens of times and has done every Amtrak route, so there is no question to which we do not know the answer. In short, this one-time voyage has only one flaw, it will sell out quickly and prompt reservations are encouraged.
• An overnight deluxe hotel stay before the cruise at the fabled WALDORF-ASTORIA in New York City.
• A special brunch at famed "21 Club" in New York City before boarding Queen Mary 2 on sailing day!
• Transfers from the Waldorf-Astoria to the pier in New York on sailing day are included for our guests. No need to worry about luggage or taxis!
• A rare Canada & New England cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 sailing round-trip from New York. All meals & entertainment aboard the ship are naturally included as well!
• A professional Uncommon Journeys tour host aboard Queen Mary 2 with special events and cocktail parties exclusively for Uncommon Journeys guests.
• A Grand Evening in Quebec City. We have arranged a very special event for our guests on our first evening in glorious Quebec City, dinner at the fabled Chateau Frontenac Hotel overlooking the St. Lawrence River.
• FREE round-trip train travel to & from New York City and your hometown from any Amtrak city east of Chicago/New Orleans. Those living west of Chicago may take advantage of our low add-on fares that range between $99 and $199 per person round-trip. A pleasant way to travel without airports and strip searches. Those with less time may fly independently and a credit for not utilizing the train travel is available.
Beginning at just $3,695 per person, this 16-day trip departing New York on September 26, 2015 is an ocean lover’s dream. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.
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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.
• 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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The Beginning of Our National Parks
National Park Service website by Barry Mackintosh provides some background:
“Any account of the National Park Service must begin with the parks that preceded it and prompted its creation. The national park concept is generally credited to the artist George Catlin. On a trip to the Dakotas in 1832, he worried about the impact of America's westward expansion on Indian civilization, wildlife, and wilderness. They might be preserved, he wrote, ‘by some great protecting policy of government...in a magnificent park...a nation's park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature's beauty!’”
“Catlin's vision was partly realized in 1864, when Congress donated Yosemite Valley to California for preservation as a state park. Eight years later, in 1872, Congress reserved the spectacular Yellowstone country in the Wyoming and Montana territories ‘as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.’ With no state government there yet to receive and manage it, Yellowstone remained in the custody of the U.S. Department of the Interior as a national park - the world's first area so designated.
“Congress followed the Yellowstone precedent with other national parks in the 1890s and early 1900s, including Sequoia, Yosemite (to which California returned Yosemite Valley), Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Glacier. The idealistic impulse to preserve nature was often joined by the pragmatic desire to promote tourism: western railroads lobbied for many of the early parks and built grand rustic hotels in them to boost their passenger business.
“By 1916 the Interior Department was responsible for 14 national parks and 21 national monuments but had no organization to manage them. Interior secretaries had asked the Army to detail troops to Yellowstone and the California parks for this purpose. There military engineers and cavalrymen developed park roads and buildings, enforced regulations against hunting, grazing, timber cutting, and vandalism, and did their best to serve the visiting public. Civilian appointees superintended the other parks, while the monuments received minimal custody. In the absence of an effective central administration, those in charge operated without coordinated supervision or policy guidance.
“The parks were also vulnerable to competing interests, including some within the ascendant conservation movement. Utilitarian conservationists favoring regulated use rather than strict preservation of natural resources advocated the construction of dams by public authorities for water supply, power, and irrigation purposes. When San Francisco sought to dam Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley for a reservoir after the turn of the century, the utilitarian and preservationist wings of the conservation movement came to blows. Over the passionate opposition of John Muir and other park supporters, Congress in 1913 permitted the dam, which historian John Ise later called ‘the worst disaster ever to come to any national park.’
“Hetch Hetchy highlighted the institutional weakness of the park movement. While utilitarian conservation had become well represented in government by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Forest and Reclamation services, no comparable bureau spoke for park preservation in Washington. Among those recognizing the problem was Stephen T. Mather, a wealthy and well-connected Chicago businessman. When Mather complained to Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane about the parks' mismanagement, Lane invited him to Washington as his assistant for park matters. Twenty-five-year-old Horace M. Albright became Mather's principal aide upon Mather's arrival in 1915.
“Crusading for a national parks bureau, Mather and Albright effectively blurred the distinction between utilitarian conservation and preservation by emphasizing the economic value of parks as tourist meccas. A vigorous public relations campaign led to supportive articles in National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post, and other popular magazines. Mather hired his own publicist and obtained funds from 17 western railroads to produce The National Parks Portfolio, a lavishly illustrated publication sent to congressmen and other influential citizens.
“Congress responded as desired, and on August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved legislation creating the National Park Service within the Interior Department. The act made the bureau responsible for Interior's national parks and monuments, Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas (made a national park in 1921), and ‘such other national parks and reservations of like character as may be hereafter created by Congress.’ In managing these areas, the Park Service was directed ‘to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.’
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Believe it or not, there was a time before Google Streetview and virtual tours of cruise ships where you can navigate through grand dining rooms, elegant lounges and intimate bars with the click of a mouse. In the not-so-distant past, ocean liner operators were always in search of ways to express just how packed with entertainment and amenities their ships really were. And going even further back to the early 20th century, steamship lines strived to impart a sense of scale to their magnificent creations (keep in mind this was an era when ships had gone from the 17,000-ton Oceanic in 1899 to the 45,000-ton Titanic in just 13 years). Back then, companies turned to the artist to portray their ships as floating cities and there was no better way to do so than with what was called a “cutaway” drawing. Artists painted the exterior of the ship and then removed shell plating and superstructure to reveal what was inside. The honeycomb of cabins and public rooms was always impressive and these fanciful drawings helped sell many a cruise and Atlantic crossing back in the day. One of our favorites, portraying the Titanic-sized Canberra of the 1960s, is shown above. While small by today’s behemoth cruise ship standards, she was one of the largest ships in the world when she sailed her maiden voyage.
There are few experiences more unique and more rewarding then sitting down to an elegant three-course meal on served on fine china with silver cutlery, white tablecloths and white-gloved attentive service. Unless, of course, you’re doing it on a train! Our private train, the Great Western Limited, is always getting rave reviews from our guests and is featured on a great many of our trips, especially those visiting National Parks. The photo above was taken last summer by one of our guests, C. Fontecilla from Ft. Lauderdale, on the way to Glacier National Park from Chicago.
The Grand Canyon Railroad
On trips such as our 8-day New Year’s at the Grand Canyon train tour departing December 29, 2014, we feature a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway. What could possibly be better than a legendary steam locomotive, an historic track and one of the greatest natural wonders on earth? Check out this video for a preview of an experience our guests rave about for years!
Yellowstone national Park contains the greatest concentration of geysers on earth. But where does the heat come from to raise the temperature of the water to the boiling point and send it shooting high into the air out of fissures on the earth? It turns out Mother Nature’s heater is hot magma below the surface of Yellowstone. In fact, most of the land in Yellowstone is actually the caldera, or crater, of an ancient super volcano. While Yellowstone isn’t going to erupt for thousands of years, when it does it will be the biggest volcanic fireworks display of the modern era by a considerable margin.
While we love to bring back the elegance of rail travel and ocean liners, one mode of transportation is gone forever. In the 1930s, flying boats were the rage. Airplanes weren’t yet dependable enough to cross long overwater distances so the idea of a plane was combined with the practicality of a boat and the flying boat was born. The Boeing 314 was, by far, the biggest and most luxurious of these leviathans to ever take to the skies. Pan American World Airways was a big operator of the type, and in the photo above, one example is caught in flight over San Francisco just before the outbreak of World War II.
“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” Ansel Adams
Holland America Grilled Salmon with Ginger-Cilantro Pesto
For decades, one of the greatest allures of a cruise has been the cuisine and one of our most valued travel partners, Holland America Line, has been continuing to excel in this area since the 1870s. Today, they offer culinary classes on board where you can learn to make some of their favorite recipes. A guest favorite has always been the following salmon recipe which is not surprising considering Holland America is headquartered in Seattle. This recipe that serves 4 is featured on most of their cruises. As you might expect, voyages with Holland America are part of Uncommon Journey’s most sought-after cruise/train tours.
Un-Cruise Adventures’ Legacy
It also just so happens that Un-Cruise Adventures operates one of our favorite ships, a little 88-passenger beauty called the Legacy. She was originally built as the Spirit of ’98 for a different small ship company and has been pleasing passengers ever since. These days, she sails river cruises in the Pacific Northwest, running along the Columbia River between Portland and Idaho. Last year, we offered a tour that incorporated a voyage on the Legacy and it proved to be so phenomenally popular that we have quadrupled the number of departures for 2015. And despite such a huge increase in offerings, our 11-day In the Path of Lewis and Clark tours departing June 18, July 16, August 13 and September 9 are already proving so much in demand that space is going quickly. Why is that? We believe it has much to do not just with the concept of river cruising by small ship, but the Legacy herself. She is a gem that embodies all the best attributes of sailing on a small ship. With a wonderful throwback Victorian design, she is reminiscent of the grand style of small steamers of the 19th century but with every possible modern amenity. With the no more than 88 guests, the cuisine is not a ballroom banquet affair like a larger ship. The Legacy is big enough to keep you comfortable, well-fed and entertained but small enough to feel like you’re all engaged in the same grand adventure. After all, what could be more rewarding than to board as strangers and leave as friends?
Grand Canyon Railway
Since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has enchanted millions of people from all over the world. The train (whose fate seemed sealed when it was shut down back in 1968 due to the popularity of automobiles) is now responsible for keeping approximately 50,000 cars outside of a national treasure. Back in the late 1800s, the Grand Canyon was a far-off distant land. Initially, the main line west was built from Chicago to Los Angeles and it passed through Williams, Arizona. The Railroad was originally constructed to transport ore in the Wild West from the Anita mines, 45 miles north of Williams. Finally, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway took over and completed the track to Grand Canyon in 1901. The company could make a return on its investment through tourism because the lure of ore and mining proved to be unsustainable. The $3.95 train ride would replace the $15.00 eight-hour stagecoach ride from Flagstaff. The 65 miles of track the iron horse traveled became the lifeline to Grand Canyon. Over the years, the Santa Fe also built many of the structures that now grace the South Rim. After all, if they were going to start bringing people in large numbers, they had to have a way to accommodate and feed them. In 1904, the railroad hired the Fred Harvey Company to manage the hotels and restaurants at the Grand Canyon for the Santa Fe, and in 1905, Santa Fe built its flagship hotel, the El Tovar, which became the finest lodging at the rim and arguably in the Southwest at the time. Grand Canyon Railway stopped service to Grand Canyon in 1968 after ridership declined due to the rise in popularity of automobile travel. But the railway was reopened for passenger service on September 17, 1989, by entrepreneurs Max and Thelma Biegert, 88 years to the day of the first passenger train to the Grand Canyon.
• Egg Carton Tray – As odd as it sounds, this is the perfect bring-along for ladies because it can be used to keep your jewelry separated and organized. Necklaces won’t get tangled together and earrings will stay together. For most trips, a smaller six-egg carton should do the trick.
• Bubble Wrap – Bring along a small amount to safely wrap any breakable souvenirs you pick up along the way. They’re perfect for keeping wine bottles safe and secure.
• Yogurt Container – Our trips are not dressy, but if you feel like you can’t live without a tie, then clean out a yogurt container, roll your tie, pop it in and you’ve got a space-saving way to keep your tie wrinkle-free.
• Old Pillowcase – The easiest way to keep your clean clothes from getting mixed with or taking on the well-traveled aroma of your dirty clothes is to bring along an old pillowcase. Use it for dirty clothes and there’ll be no confusion!
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According to the National Park Service, finding arches in the fractured landscape of Arches National Park isn't as easy as it might sound. As recently as 1970, official literature stated that the park contained "nearly 90 arches," which is less than 0.05% of the current known total. It took a group of dedicated, curious "arch-hunters" to establish a scientific protocol for surveying the park and documenting its over 2,000 namesake features. Dale Stevens, a geography professor, conducted the first scientific study of arches in the park beginning in 1973. He and his team developed a standardized method for measuring and recording arches. Ed McCarrick was a ranger at Arches in the 1970s and 1980s, and he, along with Stevens and Chris Moore, authored several books on the arches they documented. Doug Travers and his sons developed their own database for arches they located, while many others were found by Reuben Scolnik and Steve Frederick. Arches National Park is featured on numerous Uncommon Journeys trips each year. Join us and perhaps you might find an undiscovered arch. You never know!
Guests Speak Up
“My sister and I just had the most wonderful trip on your Fall Colors in Quebec and Vermont trip, hosted by Conrad Tausend. We had never been to this part of Canada before and it was a great treat. Everything, from the hotels to the meals to the sightseeing, was excellent. We particularly liked Le Westin in Montreal, truly a five-diamond hotel and to have three nights there was a special joy. We loved Quebec City and Vermont as well. The vintage train part from Manhattan to Montreal on the first day of the trip was the perfect beginning. Thank you again and please let us know future trips Conrad will be hosting.” – Georgia D.
“I took the Fall Colors in Quebec and Vermont trip with Conrad in October. Lydia & I loved it. The trip was very pleasant, fun and interesting. Conrad had everything well organized and was very helpful to anyone's concerns such as helping people that made alternate return travel plans. The general consensus of the people I talked with was that Quebec is very fascinating from a history and architecture viewpoint.” – Jerry O.
“I am sending this email to tell you how much I appreciated the help Don Downs gave my friend and me while we were on the Queen Mary 2. It was a pleasure having him as our "go to" person while on the ship. He was also very helpful when we first arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria. All in all, he made the cruise experience that much more enjoyable.” – Dorothy R.
To submit your own comments about a trip and to be featured in our monthly newsletter, just email us.
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* 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 November 28, 2014 and is only available for new bookings.