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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

thumb PSP USO Bill Johnson as Bob Hope Small

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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Pre-Tour Options Give Inside View of Rose Parade

thumb 4u-Jim LeuenbergerAdded Fun and Insight with Float Decorating, Equestrian Show

Over the years, dozens of active travelers on our Rose Parade Holiday New Year’s getaway (Dec. 29-Jan. 2) in Southern California have taken up an opportunity to arrive early, roll up their sleeves, and really immerse themselves in the Tournament of Roses in an unusual and exciting way.

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President's Invitation: Magical Danube & Prague

Budapest-Franz-ZwicklLimited Space Left on One-Time-Only River Cruise!

The majestic blue Danube—no other river in the world flows through as many countries. And now, I want to personally invite you to join my wife Lori and me on Magical Danube & Prague (Sep. 12-23, 2015), a very special land tour and river cruise chartered exclusively for CTD travelers. By land and by ship, we'll discover four capital cities in five countries, several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and wonderful scenic, cultural, rural and culinary experiences too numerous to count!

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Why Take a River Cruise?

17 AMADEUS Royal Sun Deck

As Country Travel DISCOVERIES has been rolling out 2015's Magical Danube & Prague President's Charter Cruise and planning for 2016's exciting new Rhine River Cruise & Switzerland discovery, we've been fielding many excited questions from people curious about river cruising. So, just why is river cruising one of the hottest trends in leisure travel today?

River cruising offers an unparalleled level of convenience where you will enjoy smooth and peaceful sailing throughout your cruise. Once on board, you will only unpack once in your comfortable, fully equipped cabin.

River cruising is comfortable and convenient. There are no all night parties, casinos on board (though some towns you visit may have them) or midnight buffets. You won't wait in long lines to dine and you don't need to get a number just to get off the ship. You will never have to tender into port as you stop right in the heart town.

River cruising in Europe is about experiencing and learning about the history and cities that are along the river. When you are cruising during the daytime it is often through the most historical and scenic spots in the area. Land is always in view so you're never just looking at water. Your boat is unique in that the restaurant is located on the mid-deck, which offers you floor to ceiling windows for great viewing while dining.

You won't deal with sea-sckness. Plus, there are no inside cabins or port holes, as all cabins have a window or a French Balcony. And if that's not enough....

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CTD Partners with Nebraska Life

Nebraska Life Cover SMALL

Preview: Unique New Tour for 2015

For years, the folks at Nebraska Life magazine have traveled the back roads of their state in search of its fascinating people, vibrant communities, festive food, dynamic history, and intriguing cultures. Now, the travel planners at Country Travel DISCOVERIES are honored to join up with Nebraska Life Editor Chris Amundson and his staff to present a very special Discovery of our 37th state -- all new for 2015!

Similar to our successful partnership with Our Iowa magazine (we visited Iowa 10 times in 2014), we are delighted to join forces with these knowledgable local experts at Nebraska magazine to craft a truly unique, editorially rich tour illuminating the wonders of a state that many travelers have never really explored.

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