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The Best Laid Plans

The conventional wisdom is that a successful blogger produces some words of wisdom every single day, but if you are a regular reader, you know that I’m lucky to post once a month. There is a pretty good reason for this: I am a tour operator, not a professional blogger.

So when I decided to launch Trail Talk a couple of years ago, I decided that – rather than dash off something silly or forgettable every single day – I’d try to make my few entries count. As Teddy Roosevelt said when asked to control his famously obstreperous daughter, Alice, “I can control Alice or I can run the country. I can’t possibly do both!” (I believe the exclamation point was his.)

Like the 26th President, I know my limitations. As I write this our summer touring season is still underway. Not only is it our peak touring season, but it is also the time that we are receiving requests for custom group tours in the West from tour professionals and group leaders. It is always challenging to find time to plan our own roster of unique western adventures while all this is going on. But this year I’ve had a few additional obligations vying for my time, plus an ongoing illness (an infuriating time-waster).

So we are a little behind schedule in announcing next year’s roster of expeditions, but we are making progress. The actual theme, routing, inclusions, and costing of a given tour is weighted with decisions and therefore shouldn’t be rushed, but it has been discussed in a previous Trail Talk (February 2011 – What Goes Into Planning a Successful Tour?), so I’ll just briefly describe some factors which played a prominent role in selecting this year’s roster:

  1. how long has it been since we offered a particular destination or program?

  2. have we had increased requests from clients?

  3. is there any compelling reason for going there such as an anniversary (timely Civil War battle commemorations, for example) or some new attraction which is spurring interest in an area?

Our fist announcement is a brand new program highlighting our most-requested destination: North Dakota! (It’s a Bucket List thing). We have included North Dakota on a number of itineraries, but few did justice to Legendary North Dakota – the state’s own slogan. This 7-day itinerary (July 21-27) follows the paths of legendary North Dakotans Theodore Roosevelt, Sacagawea, George Armstrong Custer, and Lewis & Clark, plus explores the Scandinavian heritage of the state. You’ll see a Viking Ship which mirrored the ocean voyage of many of those immigrants, only backwards (from the New World to the Old), three authentic white buffalo, restored forts, the world’s only Peace Garden, and even Louis L’Amour’s writing desk. Did you know he was from North Dakota? Neither did I.

Most of our programs are not destinations at all, of course, but trails, and right now we have a small but dedicated following who would love to explore the Lewis & Clark Trail. This was an extremely popular program for us during the Bicentennial Commemoration a few years back but lately, not so much. However, because of steady requests and the fact that some folks want to do it so badly they have offered to help spread the word, we have decided to schedule it one more time. It takes a minimum of 15 participants to make this tour happen, so If you’d like to join them, please let us know. As far as I know, this is the only program that follows the entire trail from St. Louis to the Pacific and provides a thoroughly immersive Lewis & Clark experience. Expedition dates: Aug. 2-17.

That’s all for now. I need to finish planning tours that you will want to take in 2013. See you on the trail!

Shebby Lee  is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West.  Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO.  She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.

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