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Guest: An American Student in London
In My Wildest Dreams
Story by Elyssa Davalos
Photographs by Dana Cheatham-Scoby

Meet Our Guest Writer

Elyssa Davalos

Elyssa Davalos is director of "The Ketchum Project," a documentary film in progress, which brings forward the photography of conservationist, activist Robert Glenn Ketchum; and creator of "Assignment: EARTH," a series under construction that is devoted to conservation, which uses the power of the International League of Conservation Photographers. She is currently in Haiti, serving as Creative Director, using film focus for communication for foundations. Her future agenda is to build bridges, joining foundations for the betterment and furtherance of Haiti relief. Previously, along with being an actress, Ms. Davalos operated “Voices Anonymous," a company that helped actors maintain their health insurance via voice-overs and looping for films and television. Ms. Davalos considers herself the 'SOS' for strictly philanthropic missions.

sunset in Alaska

astly dramatic landscapes pour out of the painted sky. To behold this unique voyage makes you feel like an explorer from another era. There is no better way to see Alaska than under the knowledgeable and guiding hands of The Boat Company.

photographer checking equipment, Alaska

Long time family friend Robert Glenn Ketchum is world-renowned for his landscape photography. Through the years our lives went in separate directions, but in 2005 we ran into each other at a charity event.

Catching up, I learned that Ketchum through his photography had placed into protective mandated legislation the 1990 Tongass Timber Reform Act that saved the Tongass Rain Forest in Alaska. His current concerns are focused on Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the Nushugak River, which are being threatened by the largest intended gold mining site in the world. Cyanide is the antagonist that poisons in perpetuity. Native communities down river are asking for help. I proposed we do a documentary journaling his tireless advocacy to enlighten the nation of how the virginity of these lands is at stake.

whales in Bristol Bay

I had once camped along the Nushugak River, watching Ketchum as he documented wildlife migrating patterns that would be thrashed by intended roads carving the landscape for almost two hundred miles to the mine site. Now, retracing Ketchum’s previous journey with The Boat Company, I never imagined in my wildest dreams what I was about to behold. Witnessing the potential infringement to this land, one could feel the anguish of the native Alaskans on the edge of losing their heritage and inheritance.

waterfalls in the Tongass Rain Forest

I was grateful that the McIntosh family had aided Ketchum during his years of making the Tongass photography book, The Tongass: Alaska's Vanishing Rain Forest, for pictures do speak profoundly over written bills to governments in conservation decision-making.

a view of the Tongass Rain Forest aboard the M/V Lierson

Floating in the midst of the Tongass on the historic M/V Liseron, we are transported in balanced luxury to places that feel as if hobbits may extend a hand as you forage through breathtaking land and seascapes. Porpoises escort us through the Chatham Straight.

We race like a hydrofoil in our small skiff; witnessing staggering glaciers calve before us.

colored icebergs

As the ice brakes away, instinctively a low current of fear builds as we find ourselves surrounded by massive icebergs. The expert guides are well prepared. Krista Tyburski captained our skiff on the day of the great calving. Ketchum leaped to the bow with an oar as Krista maneuvered the skiff through the encircling icebergs, navigating us back to the Liseron. And believe me when I tell you in the wild of nature you feel like you are returning home. The excitement would bring all of our dinner conversations together like the ebb and flow matching the romance of the water.

With all this adventure, a piece of my heart surely remains with the Tongass Rain Forest. In Liseron’s guest book, I wrote: “Gratitude is a memory of the heart.” –- Jean Baptiste Massieu

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum in Vevey, Switzerland

Charlie Chaplin and the Chaplin Museum
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin. A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model Kiera Chaplin.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: Galway Bay (Dispatch #15)

sunset at Galway Bay

The late Bing Crosby crooned about it, but The Palladian Traveler, with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, is there along the rocky shore to see the sun slowly go down on Galway Bay.

Go There


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