Alaska – Good for Your Mind and Soul

This Summer it seems like everyone is heading to Alaska for their family vacation. I personally know 6 families that have headed North. With the dollar so weak internationally and the negative press (unfortunately) Mexico receives, it seems like Alaska has become the vacation darling in the past 12-months. At the end of June, my parents and I took a 7-day cruise through Alaska, starting in Anchorage / Seward and ending in Vancouver, Canada. I was prepared for the luxuries of the cruise ship – first-class entertainment, unlimited dining options, friendly service and the opportunity to meet new friends. What I was not prepared for, which Alaska more than delivered, was the majestic beauty and jaw-dropping gifts Mother Earth has given us in that part of the world. Alaska’s landscape, in a word, is stunning! I admit I’m a bit more a city dweller than a real rough and tough nature girl. I can appreciate nature and what beauty it offers but I don’t really find myself needing to become “one with nature”. I prefer to become “one” with urban landscapes and the hustle and bustle of city life.  It’s almost as if Alaska scoffed at my pre-conceived notion that nature is only pretty to look at but it doesn’t feed my soul the way European cafes, shopping bazaars and the metro station does. Upon arrival, I think Alaska made note that another one of the “lower 48’s” had arrived and it was challenged again to change yet another mind about the significance of lush landscape, vast terrain and wondrous wildlife.

The natives are quick to tell you that in spite of what Sara Palin says (via Tina Fey’s impersonation on SNL) they cannot see Russia from their porches. However, they are very committed to making sure you know that Alaska is a place they are very proud to call home. I think the reason they can’t see Russia is because Alaska is one frigg’n big state! Alaska really has 2 seasons – Summer (when everyone works 7-days a week and 14 hour days) and the rest of the year. Those that stay beyond the summer season have to navigate the brutality of below freezing temperatures, frozen pipes, and sustaining themselves financially on whatever they made during the “high season.” Imagine only working 4-months out of the year and then basically being forced to hibernate the other 8 months. Although at first glance this seems like a vacation, the truth is living in Alaska is not for the faint of heart. Although they work their hands to the bone in the summer and hope for a survivable winter, true Alaskans would not want it any other way. It’s obvious that Alaska is a way of life.

From the comfort of our luxurious cruise ship, we saw Alaska the easy way. Our ports of call included Seward, Haines / Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Seaward offered us the chance to enjoy a great tour which included dog sled racing at the world-famous Seavey Family Homestead (The Seavey’s are the most prolific Ididarod racing family)  and getting face to face with Exit Glacier in Kenai National Park. From cuddling husky puppies to seeing the vast glacial ice wall, Seward was a highlight of our trip. From Seward, we spent two days at sea, which took us to Glacier Bay. To be a stone’s throw from a glacier and to listen to the explosion as the ice falls into the sea is unforgettable. What I will remember about Glacier Bay are the sounds – crashing  ice, the squawk of sea birds and the howling of the wind – Glacier Bay is nature’s soundtrack.  You are truly at the alter of Mother Nature and you pay reverence by being quiet and still and just taking in the majesty that surrounds you.

Our first port was Haines / Skagway. Haines is a very tiny town made famous in the gold rush era. After exploring Haines (which takes about as long as drinking a cup of coffee), we took the ferry across the bay to Skagway. With a more active Main Street, Skagway offers more in terms of restaurants, shops and jewelry stores (you’ve rarely seen the number of jewelry stores that Alaska offers). Our second port was Juneau – the capital of Alaska. Did you know there are no roads to drive to Juneau? It’s the only capital that you have to either get to by boat or float plane. Juneau offered us the chance to go whale watching. Within 10 minutes of leaving the dock, our Captain informed us that we had a pod of orca just off the bow. For nearly 45 minutes, we watched as 6 orca frolicked and hunted for lunch. We even had an up close encounter when a baby orca even skimmed the side of our boat. The trip also included humpback whale sightings, sea lions and bald eagles flying over head. Juneau also has Mt. Roberts Tram, which offers one of the most amazing views of Alaska. Within 7 minutes, you are transported 3800 feet from the seafront to the mountain tops. We were given the gift of perfect weather that day which made the view even more spectacular.  Our last port was Ketichikan, which is known for the world’s largest rain gauge. That should tell you how much rain they receive each year! Our day in Ketichikan included a local tour and a visit to the Saxman Native Village, which offers insight into the history and cultural significance of totem poles. Our voyage to Vancouver took us through the Inside Passage, a beautiful route that skims tiny islands and provides the opportunity to see marine wildlife.

The natives say that Alaska gets into your soul. After 10-days in the great state, I would have to agree. It literally feels like you are in another world – and not just because you are a long way from home. Alaska is pristine; it’s crisp, it’s pure and it’s life-changing. I found myself in moments of devout gratitude that I was experiencing nature in such a profound way.

Do yourself a favor and put Alaska on your bucket list. If for no other reason than to allow Mother Nature to cleanse your mind and soul!

Here are a few special moments from our trip….

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A Celebration of The Royal Wedding

You are cordially invited to join The Henley Company

for a once-in-a-lifetime trip

to Celebrate the Royal Wedding of

HRH Prince William of Wales & Ms. Catherine Middleton.




“A Celebration of the Royal Wedding”

April 24 – May 4, 2011

London, England


“A Celebration of the Royal Wedding” is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to celebrate the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Ms. Catherine Middleton. For most American’s to enjoy a Royal Wedding they must get up in the middle of the night and watch the coverage on TV. It is how an entire generation of young women recount the wedding of HRH Prince Charles and Ms. Diana Spencer. Forget setting your alarm this time around! Grab your girlfriends, your sisters and your Mom and hop a plane to London so you can enjoy all of the pomp and circumstance first hand for the Royal Wedding of Wills & Kate! You can be witness to the dawn of the modern monarchy and celebrate the love story of a dynamic young couple.


Enjoy 10 days/9 nights in London, England for a unique Royal themed tour and celebration of the Royal Wedding!


Prince William & Kate

Photo by Mario Testino



Tour Package includes:


4-star luxury hotel accommodation in central London with daily breakfast

Private coach service & transfers

Private visit of the Crown Jewels

Panoramic tour of the old City of London and City of Westminster

Private tour with expert guide of luxury boutiques and retailers with the Royal Warrant

Private tour and lunch at Chavenage House, the earliest Royal residence

Private tour of Eton College (school of HRH Prince William of Wales)

Visit to Runnymede & Windsor Castle

Private visit to the Judith Blacklock Flower School for a demonstration of Royal Wedding flowers

Join the public celebration of the Royal Wedding

Special dinner in honor of the Royal couple

Guided Tour of Westminster Abbey

Private tour of the Royal Garden with Royal Historian

Private lesson in the history and etiquette of High Tea

And more activities to come…


London Wedding Bus


This exclusive trip will be limited to 25 guests.

Airfare will be priced individually.


Total Investment per person for a once-in-a-lifetime experience:







To secure your place, a deposit of $1000 is due by April 1, 2011.



to obtain a more detailed itinerary and additional tour information


Note: The tour does not include access to the Royal Wedding at Westminster Abbey nor does it guarantee that you will meet any members of the Royal Family. The tour includes the ability to participate in the public festivities being arranged around the Royal Wedding, in addition to the private tours as described above.


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The Ultimate Royal Wedding Experience

We are just days away from announcing the final itinerary for our Royal Wedding Experience. All of the key pieces are falling into place and we are super excited with all of the planning! Our interest list is filling up fast so make sure you get yourself on the list ASAP! The tour will only accommodate 25 attendees in an attempt to keep it super unique and intimate.

A few of the highlights of the trip being finalized include:

  • A private tour of the Crown Jewels with The Yeoman Warder (Beefeater)
  • A vist to the Royal Warrant luxury boutiques & retailers with a fashion expert
  • A day trip to Windsor & Eton College (where Prince William attended school)
  • Demonstration on Royal Wedding flowers, bouquets and decorations at a Flower School
  • High Tea including a history & etiquette lesson
  • Meet & greet with members of the Royal staff
  • Public celebration of the Royal Wedding in Hyde Park
  • Champagne Toast at the top of the London Eye

We look forward to joining you in London!!

The Trip of a Lifetime for the Royal Wedding!


Will you be on the double decker bus on April 29, 2011?


Now that the date of April 29, 2011 has been announced for the Royal Wedding, The Henley Company’s planning machine is in full swing! We will be putting together an exclusive tour to the UK to coincide with the big event! Plenty of details still need to be worked out but we would love to know if you want to be on the VIP list of attendees! You could get up in the middle of the night to watch the wedding on tv, 11 hours away (how many of us did that when Diana married Charles?) or you could be there first hand to experience it all. I know what I would prefer to do!

Think about the great experience you would have if you were in London on the big day! The excitement and the potential to see the happy couple up close and personal is a once in a lifetime opportunity! I can’t wait! In addition to the Royal Wedding festivities, we will also enjoy unique tours, shopping excursions and lots more!

If you are interested in getting on the VIP list, please let me know by email – Only 25 spots will be available so don’t delay in getting on the list! Grab your best friend, your sisters and your Mom and have a great experience together!

Remember, life is a playground! Go experience it!