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Special Winter 2015 Panama Tour Opened

Private Group Invites You to CTD's Only 2015 Panama Tour

Panama City MarinaCountry Travel DISCOVERIES has announced that a special Panama Cultural Experience & Panama Canal tour crafted for a private travel group from Pennsylvania will also welcome other CTD travelers on an unpublished February 22 – March 1, 2015 departure. Organizers from MYW Tours have graciously allowed us to open up a handful of spaces on the trip for those interested in joining this friendly, Christian-oriented group in Panama City this winter.

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CTD's "Wanderings" Radio Series

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"Thoughts and Insights Designed to Help You Maximize Your Enjoyment of Traveling"

Starting in September, Country Travel DISCOVERIES began a new series of travel advice radio vignettes entitled “Wanderings,” airing on Milwaukee's WRIT Oldies 95.7 rock radio station. Intended to provide short insights to help listeners get better satisfaction and value out of their leisure time and travel dollar, the series begins in September with multiple rotating spots on the themes, "Be Your Own Group Travel Leader," "Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard," and "What a Good Tour Operator Should Do for You".

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A Costa Rican Treat: The Tabacon Hot Springs

Find Unparalleled Thermal Relaxation in Costa Rica Winter Paraiso

Tabacon Hot Springs WaterfallsThere are many naturally occurring hot springs around the world, many affiliated with volcanic activity. In Costa Rica, there are hot springs of different temperatures, flow volumes and mineral content that can be found in the regions around the Arenal, Irazu, Miravalles and Rincon de la Vieja Volcanoes, and others in the Orosi Valley or near Ciudad Quesada in San Carlos.

But the perfect combination of volume, temperature and mineral content (low sulfur content to prevent strong odors) that is present in Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is unique in Costa Rica and worldwide.

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Unexpected Thrill on Jekyll Island

 Our Coastal Carolina & Georgia Shores discovery tour this past October proved very exciting for our group.

After visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Country Travel DISCOVERIES' group found out that the caretakers were about to release two giant loggerhead turtles back into their ocean home!

By consensus, the group arranged to changed their planned itinerary by just 30 minutes and managed to watch this moving scene happen on Jekyll Island's beach shore.

Check out the fun photos here, as well as the Center's cool video at the end, wherein all of us crowded around the turtles in a circle to say goodbye. Overhead video footage was filmed with a very small drone just over our heads.

A totally unexpected opportunity, this perfectly timed event became the highlight of our trip!

-- Judy Zerby

 

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Hats Off to Volunteer Firefighters

AS my wife, Paula, and I pulled up to the fire station in Harlan, the unmistakable aroma of meat on the grill wafted near our car. Several men—volunteer firefighters—were standing around a barbecue grill, and I was tempted to yell out, “Hey, where’s the fire?” But I figured they’d heard that line all too many times before.

We’d driven from our home in Ames on a Saturday evening in early October to meet a busload of travelers on the “Our Iowa’s Western Treasures” tour of western Iowa we offered in 2014 in partnership with Country Travel Discoveries.

The firefighters and EMTs were putting on a grilled steak and chicken supper for these travelers. In fact, this was the seventh busload of our travelers they’d fed and welcomed to Harlan over the summer and fall.

We’d heard from previous groups that this was one of the highlights of the tour, and Paula and I wanted to see what it was all about. Besides, we felt a special kinship to this friendly county-seat town. Paula grew up there, and her dad had served as mayor many years ago. When the current city leaders found out our groups would be staying overnight in the area, they asked the fire department to treat the travelers to some old-fashioned small-town hospitality.

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Steve Uelner, Roy Reiman, Reunite on iHeartMedia

Country Travel DISCOVERIES President Steve Uelner, and Reiman Publications founder Roy Reiman, were recently featured in a business news spotlight interview by Jerry Bott for WISN News Radio Milwaukee.

Uelner and Reiman had worked together at the former World Wide Country Tours, the successful travel arm of Reiman Publications before it was bought and closed down by Reader's Digest. The two reunited on the radio to discuss the formula behind WWCT's-- and then CTD's -- unique "editorial" travel programs to off-the-beaten-path destinations and attractions most companies don't go.

They also discussed their newer collaborations, creating surprisingly successful travel experiences to unusual vacation destinations -- a partnership between Country Travel DISCOVERIES and Reiman's publication, Our Iowa Magazine.  They desrcibed how the first attempt to create a single unique guided tour of rural eastern Iowa grew into six sold-out departures, followed by creation of a second tour of Western Iowa with seven sold-out departures, and now a planned third tour of the state. The model is also being replicated now with other publications such as Nebraska Life.

The program originally aired November 22 on WISN, part of the iHeartMedia network. The complete program may also be heard on the Country Travel DISCOVERIES website.

WISN Business Spotlight: Steve Uelner and Roy Reiman (MP3)


Busy "Elves" in Elm Grove

Elves 597Country Travel DISCOVERIES annually sends holiday mailings to the past year's travelers that seek to highlight something special about our destinations and partners. Last year, for example, we wanted to share the beauty we find on our tours in Iowa, in stunning photo books and calendars by our friends at Our Iowa Magazine. The previous year, we took a nostalgic trip with a special collection of Norman Rockwell's art, as seen on our Norman Rockwell's New England and Autumn in New England tours.

But we’ve always said “the secret sauce” that makes a CTD tour unique is the people -- friendly fellow travelers and warm local hosts alike! So this year, we wanted to spotlight some of the wonderful hosts we meet at some favorite tour stops -- with a box of yummy treats proudly “Made in the U.S.A.” by the real people we’ve befriended at small farms, coops, and stores on our routes around the country--east, west, center—personally hand-packaged by our staff here in Wisconsin.

FROM THEIR FAMILIES...TO OURS!

From Oregon's Natural Wonders—Wonderful hazelnuts are the specialty of our friends at Oregon Orchard, the coop farmers of fertile Willamette Valley, where 99% of all U.S. hazelnuts are grown.

From Coastal Carolina & Georgia Shores—On the idyllic low-country setting of Wadmalaw Island, S.C., Charleston Tea Plantation enjoys perfect conditions for producing high-quality, pesticide-free black and green teas in over 320 varieties across its 127 acre grounds.

From Our Iowa...and Yours, Too!—Since 1903, Piper's Grocery and Homemade Candies had been a bustling small-town grocery, bakery and meeting place serving Iowa mining and farming communities. Today, it is especially famed for its candies, handmade in small batches with the same recipes the Piper family perfected at the end of World War II.

A PERSONAL TOUCH

Elves 398And, since it's not the sort of thing you can just buy in bulk and have shipped out from somewhere, we figured we'd roll up our sleeves and hand-package, wrap and mail the gifts ourselves. How big a deal could it be? :-)

Well, let's just say that we had a pretty good year in 2014, so when the shipments of nuts, candies and teas from our friends started arriving at our offices on pallettes...we knew we had our work cut out for us, that's for sure!

It's a good problem to have of course, and everyone in the office really stepped up to participate: opening crates, constructing gift boxes, arranging the crinkle paper and goodies and letters, sealing and labeling, and more. And, we also had a great time, taking a break from our regular tasks, talking and joking, listening to carols. It was great way for us to kick off the holiday season.

We hope all of our past travelers, site visitors, hosts, partners and vendors enjoy a warm and safe holiday season with family and friends, and look forward to seeing you in the new year!

Palm Springs Winter Oasis Gets Patriotic Update

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New USO Tribute Variety Show a Nostalgic Highlight

Country Travel DISCOVERIES's popular unpack-once desert escape, Palm Springs Winter Oasis (Feb 15-21), has been freshened up this year with new stops, including an exciting new program commemorating the role of the USO in lifting servicemen's (and the country's) spirits in times of war and peace. The USO Tribute Show at Palm Springs' Air Museum stars comedian Bill Johnson as Bob Hope (pictured right) and a talented cast recreating the iconic performances by the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, and many more from the WWII, Korea and Vietnam eras.

This article, courtesy USOShow.com, recounts the beginnings and lasting legacy of the USO and their cherished "Camp Shows".

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