Great story about one of our past travelers, Bud Barnum, a pallbearer at JFK’s funeral procession:
The votes are in and the numbers tallied….(drum roll please…)
2013 John Hall’s Alaska Award Recipients Are:
THE ALASKA RAILROAD – Highest Rated Breakfast & Best Attraction
Thanks guys for bringing the scenery of Alaska to our guests while delivering first class service!
HIGHEST RATED LUNCH – Simon and Seafort’s
Seasonal seafood and salad selections kept our special guests salivating! (Say that 5 times fast)
HIGHEST RATED DINNER – 229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern
Where organic and homegrown Alaska produce come to die a delicious death.
Thanks for the creative and fresh menu choices!
OVERALL PARTNER OF THE YEAR – Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge
Mountain views of Denali’s south face, a grand roaring fireplace and friendly people – what’s better than that?
BEST ALASKAN EXPERIENCE – Stan Stephens Cruise
Always a favorite attraction with our guests in the Prince William Sound Crossing chock full of marine wildlife, ice chunks and amazing scenery. Please read our comments regarding founder Stan Stephen’s recent passing.
BEST REMOTE LODGE EXPERIENCE – Denali BackCountry Lodge
Forget about your television, cell phone and computer. Forget about it all and just enjoy nature at its best. Thanks to the staff of the BackCountry lodge who lead expeditions, entertain with music and keep the bears at bay!
OWNER’S CHOICE AWARD – Trail Breaker Kennel
(**This is a new award that is given to a vendor who displays uniqueness and deserves recognition for an event throughout the summer**)
A big thanks to Dave Monson and Trail Breaker Kennels for preparing and achieving such a cool event! Check out the dogs of Trail Breaker Kennel’s pulling our motorcoach!
Tourism pioneer and environmental steward Stan Stephens recently passed away and we would like to recognize Stan Stephens and his family for their awesome contribution to our Alaska tour programs.
The relationship between John Hall Sr and Stan Stephens began over 20 years ago. Sr likes to talk about meeting Stan and remarking about his passion for Prince William Sound and getting people to know about its existence as a tour destination. Their passion for bringing guests a true Alaskan experience was a passion that united them. Fast forward two decades and you have a family friendship as well as a business partnership that sees 90% of John Hall’s Alaska guests enjoying a marine and glacier adventure aboard a Stan Stephens vessel, touring the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. We would like to put in writing our heartfelt condolences to the Stephens’ family. Stan’s passing will leave a big void, but the memories he created in each and every John Hall’s Alaska guest will live on through stories, photos and smiles. We will miss you!
More about Stan’s Life (from the Alaska Tourism Industry Association):
Born November 16, 1934 in Perham, Minnesota, Stan moved to North Pole, Alaska in 1961 and married the love of his life Mary Helen Stephens in 1964. They raised 3 daughters in North Pole where Stan worked as a mechanic and spent his weekends exploring the state and Prince William Sound. He fell in love with PWS and in 1971 founded his first company, North Star Marine Charters, specializing in hunting and fishing tours out of Valdez. In 1978 he and Mary Helen founded Stan Stephens Charters, a company dedicated to sharing the glaciers and wildlife of PWS with tourists from around the country and the world. A pioneer of cruising in the region, he loved being on the water showcasing the place he loved the most.
Stan was one of the fathers of the Alaska tourism industry and was dogged in his pursuit of helping the industry thrive and grow. Not only did he diligently work to promote Valdez, he dedicated his time and resources to ensure that funding was present to market Alaska to the nation and the world. He was instrumental in the Alaska Visitors Industry Association, Alaska Wilderness Recreation Tourism Association, and the Alaska Travel industry Association.
Stan was a meticulous steward of Prince William Sound and after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, publically declared that he would dedicate the rest of his life to making sure the area was protected. He worked diligently with industry to ensure that PWS was a safe cold weather shipping port and to ensure that the environment and marine residents were protected.
Stan lived his life by the following guidelines: He implicitly trusted people and allowed them to fulfill their promises and perform to their highest potential. He committed himself 100 percent to any mission he embarked upon. He believed in building alliances and relationships that allowed views from all sides of an issue to reach a positive outcome. Stan was a mentor to hundreds of employees, coworkers, and industry officials and was an amazing man that changed lives and provided direction to all he encountered.
Surviving are his wife of 49 years, Mary Helen Stephens; daughters Carrie Nash and family of Fairbanks, AK, Jenna Stephens and family of Seattle, WA and Colleen Stephens and family of Valdez.
Check this out: Trail Breaker Kennels dogs pull our JHA motorcoach in front of our guests! This clip is from the local news station in Fairbanks.
Please enjoy this poem written about one of our own, Mr. John Gailey, an infamous Alaska tour manager who never fails to impress with his tall tales about the great North Country. Each guest on this year’s AK157 Grand Slam tour contributed one topic for this poem.
“Alaska with John”
Before we start our Northern tale
Compared to this all others pale
To Kiss Alaska from John Hall
In August is to have a ball
Our manager throughout the land
For him we have put pen in hand
His name is John and he’d prefer
Whatever you do don’t call him ‘sir’
Continuing tales that never end
Which might just send us round the bend
3-2-1 set, 3-2-1 go
Planes and John put on a show
John be nimble, John be slick
John comes up with an answer quick
Checking windows left and right
For wildlife out there day and night
There’s caribou and grizzly bear
So stop the bus and let us stare
Toward Valdez on a day of rain
We still were silly on the train
A boat ride toward a glacier tall
Just dodging ice, amazing all
Discovery was quite a ship
That really added to our trip
But if you want to cause a fuss
Have thirty sled dogs pull a bus
Kantishna hikes and panning gold
John’s flip flops in the water cold
Whether there are clouds or sun
You know that we’ll be having fun
Blue coat brigade at 6 a.m.
With driver whom we think’s a gem
So thank you, John, you are the best
But now please let us get some rest.
Composed by poet and JHA guest: Mr. Marc Rissman
For those of you who have been working with Jenny and know that she was expecting her third child, the time has come!
Tiny baby Allison arrived on July 29th. She is doing well and so is Jenny. Here is a picture of baby Allison ~
Taken two days ago when our guests visited Brooks Falls as part of our 19 Day National Parks tour-
Dear Friends of Alaska,
What an exciting time for us! The 2014 brochure goes to the printers this week and can be expected to hit doorsteps in the next couple of weeks. We have a brand new website in the works for 2014 but 2014 pricing can already be found online at www.kissalaska.com.
A brand new collection of adventures can be found with our 17 Day Three Bears of Alaska tour. Included are three memorable bear viewing experiences for guests, including a small boat and land expedition along the Arctic Coast viewing Polar Bears!
We have added a fabulous new cruise partner in 2014, Alaskan Dream Cruises. This small boat
touring itinerary features the wilds of Alaska’s Inside Passage and a sense of adventure that is simply irresistible. The cruise complements our Klondike Gold Rush tour extremely well in 2014.
There’s no place like Alaska and we know you’d agree! Monumental mountain landscapes, incredible marine and land wildlife, thunderous glacier viewing, and colorful native cultures alive with the
history of Alaska. You will see it all with John Hall’s Alaska!
Exceptional highlights on our value-packed 2014 Land & Cruise Tours include:
• A day in beautiful Kamloops, British Columbia on our 23 Day Canadian Rockies tour.
• Overnights at the Backcountry Lodge in Kantishna on our 15 – 23 Day tours!
Our family has had the pleasure of hosting tours to Alaska for three decades, imparting knowledge and experience to our guests as we travel through a part of North America that we absolutely treasure.
We look forward to giving you and your loved ones a memorable Alaskan adventure in 2014!
From our family to yours,