Guest Hosts on Theme Departures

Theme hosts include individuals such as winery owners and winemakers, whale experts, photographers, and authorities in marine biology and ornithology. Depending on your theme, there’ll be dedicated presentations by the guest host—or hosts; hands-on learning opportunities; and wine or beer tastings that bring a whole new dimension to your adventure.

Alaska Insider


Amy Gulick

Alaska: Glacier Bay National Parks Adventure | May 4, 2019

A self-described storyteller, Amy’s tools of the trade include pictures and words. An acclaimed conservation photographer and writer, she focuses on stories that connect humanity to wild places. Amy’s award-winning book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest, shares the remarkable story of the Tongass National Forest and why this magnificent place matters to the world.

The recipient of many honors, she has received awards from the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Alaska Wilderness League, North American Nature Photography Association, and Society of American Travel Writers Foundation. She is a Fellow of both the International League of Conservation Photographers and International League of Conservation Writers.,


Anne Elise Pollnow

Alaska: Northern Passages & Glacier Bay | May 4, 2019

You might spot archaeologist Anne with her 16 year old Collie Aussie mix following alongside in what she calls “most glorious natural setting in the world,” Alaska. Anne is grateful to work in a field where she can experience remote areas of the Southeast while living out her passion to serve and assist communities, small nonprofit corporations, and Alaska Native entities with their historic preservation goals.

While she started her career pursuing a business major—and worked as a commercial fisherman during graduate school—Anne quickly realized her detail-oriented nature would serve her better in archeology. She now holds degrees from Washington State, Adams State, and Leicester Universities and is a member of the Society for American Archaeology, the American Anthropological Association, the Alaska Anthropological Association, and the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation. Motivated by validating and preserving our shared heritage, Anne is consistently intrigued by the resiliency of the displaced First Nations people of Alaska.



Caroline Fox

Alaska: Alaska's Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise | May 12, 2019

Conservation scientist and marine ecologist, Caroline Fox is as well-known for her talented storytelling, as she is for her meticulous research. Caroline has a bachelor’s in biology and environmental studies from the University of Victoria (UV) and her masters in science, with a focus on kelp forest ecology and the effects of climate change from Case Western Reserve University.  She earned her PhD from the UV focusing on land-sea ecological interactions.  Throughout her university years, she worked as a lighthouse keeper, creel observer, biologist for the Raincoast Conservation Fund, and aerial surveyor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 

Caroline’s post-doc work has been focused on marine birds and she continues to work as a biologist for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.  Her book, At Sea with the Marine Birds of the Raincoast, was published in 2016. Learn more about Caroline’s work at



David Shaw

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | April 26, 2019

David shares some of Alaska’s most wild places and creatures through his lens and words a professional photographer, writer, and wildlife biologist. He also guides birding, photography, and natural history trips throughout Alaska. He has his master's degree in wildlife biology from University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and while he studied avian migrations through Mexico in graduate school, his heart has long been in Alaska.

Living off-the-grid in a small cabin in the forest near Fairbanks, the natural world that most sparks David’s curiosity is right at his fingertips. A nearly two-decade resident in Alaska, David has a passion for conserving and exploring the world’s wildest places and creatures. He has served as a board member with Audubon Alaska for seven years.


Jim Baichtal

Alaska: Northern Passages & Glacier Bay | April 27, 2019

Ever since he was six years old, Jim has followed his curiosity in why we find rocks in the places we do. Jim has since worked as a geologist for the past 28 years focusing on the geology, glacial history, paleontology, and geoarchaeology of Southeast Alaska. He is currently a forest geologist with the US Forest Service for the Tongass National Forest. 

Jim’s passion for and expertise in geology and glacial history has earned him an honorary Doctorate of Science and taken him throughout Southeast Alaska as an instructor of geology courses at community colleges and universities. As an authority on the karst ecosystem and cave resources of the Tongass National Forest, Jim has also been published in numerous scientific journals. He even has a Silurian gastropod, Baichtalia tongassensis, named after him! Jim is fascinated by how much of Alaska’s geologic and natural history is unknown and can’t wait to share his fascination with you.  Be sure to pack a good pair of waterproof boots and a sense of wonderment.


Jim Hammond

Alaska: Alaska Fjords & Glaciers | May 11, 2019

Ever since he signed on to work on a salmon hauling boat 1982, Jim has been sold on Southeast Alaska. As a naturalist, he’s since explored and introduced others to Alaska, helping them get the most from their visits to the Great Land. The trails and waterways of the northern panhandle are his favorite places to explore. And although Jim’s had the chance to photograph the landscapes and wildlife of all seven continents, after all these years he still calls exploring the waters of Alaska, “a pure joy.” 

Jim has been the operations manager and guide for Alaska Discovery, the naturalist and manager for Allen Marine Tours, lead photography guide for Gastineau Guiding Company, and private yacht naturalist guide. He has been published in Western Outdoors, Alaska Fish and Game Magazine, and Rotary International. Jim’s advice for adventurers? Keep your eyes open and bring a sense a humor. 


Joe Upton

Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise | May 11, 2019

Joe made his way to Alaska for the first time in the mid-1960s when he landed a job as a crewman aboard a fishing boat. He was taken under the wing of an old-timer who not only showed him the ropes onboard, but filled days with stories about people and places throughout Southeast Alaska. On that first trip north, Joe fell in love with The Great Land. Throughout the 1970s, he lived in a tiny, roadless village fishing, making maps and photographing the area. In the 1990s, Joe started a publishing company and published his first book, Alaska Blues, based on his early years in Southeast. 

With over two decades of experience working, living, and raising a family among small communities and fellow fisherman, Joe has amassed many sea salty stories of the area, as well as an intimate knowledge of the Alaskan coast, and its people, history, and lore. He shares his stories through his books—he’s published several guidebooks for Southeast, several memoirs from his years in the Inside Passage and historical figures, even a young adult fiction. He has produced an extensive series of videos that tell the stories of locals and places throughout the passage. An award-winning author and gifted storyteller, Joe and his wife now live an island life near Seattle.'sstory.html


Karen Dillman

Alaska: Alaska's Fjords & Glaciers | May 18, 2019

Not every ecologist can say they’ve had a fungus named after them, but Karen Dillman isn’t just any ecologist. In addition to living and recreating around Petersburg for 28 years, Karen has worked on the Ketchikan Ranger District for four years in her role with the United States Forest Service—gaining a rich knowledge of Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm. Forelands of glaciers, alpine habitats, and small marine islands are Karen’s favorite places to explore in Alaska.

Although she started as a forestry technician studying the Tongass, Karen wanted to know more about the ecology of the area and went back to school to become a botanist and ecologist. Since earning a Bachelor of Science in ecology from Idaho State University and a Master’s of Science in plant biology from Arizona State University, Karen has worked as a botanist with the United States Forest Service for 20 years and an ecologist for 14. She thrives on being in the field witnessing the ecological processes and learning about all of the organisms. Ask Karen about lichens, fungi, glaciers, or forest ecology and watch her eyes light up.


Kate Troll & Bill Hanson

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | May 10, 2019
Alaska: Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise | May 18, 2019

Wife-husband duo, Kate Troll and Bill Hanson share a love of words and of Alaska. They moved north to The Great Land in the 1970s to pursue careers in natural resources and land management. In their retirement, both have focused on sharing their experiences and passion for Alaska through written word.

An author, adventurer, and activist, Kate was the executive director for Alaska’s largest fishing organization and pioneered a program to implement salmon stream protections in rural Alaska. In addition to writing newspaper columns and op-eds, she has written a memoir and screenplays for several films. Bill spent his career as a supervisory biologist, forester, and fire effects specialists for agencies in Alaska including US Dept. of Fish & Game and Bureau of Land Management. Long nurturing his interest in fiction and creative non-fiction, Bill is an Alaskan blogger and social media storyteller, and is currently writing an adventure novel about a fictional Alaskan fisherman set in the 1890s. Bill posts a daily blog about Alaska and his adventures on Instagram: @bhfootloose or


Kim Heacox

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | May 17, 2019

Raised in the western states of Idaho and Washington, Kim got his first taste of Alaska as a naturalist ranger in Glacier Bay National Park. That first season offered plenty of adventure for test-your-metal expedition kayaking. He also met his wife there, who was also a park ranger. Photographer, conservationist, and award-winning author of over a dozen books, Kim’s work spans literary fiction to Alaska’s natural history and history of exploration, to memoir.

A resident Alaskan storyteller for more than two decades, Kim and his wife live in the small town of Gustavus, accessible only by boat or plane. Known for his passionate love of Alaska, his writing on his home state has appeared in many publications including National Geographic, Audubon, and Orion.


Lee Stetson

Alaska: Alaska's Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise | April 20, 2019

Lee Stetson is a writer, John Muir scholar, and actor with a 50 year background in theater. Since hiking the John Muir Trail, he has become an authority on the “father of our National Parks” and celebrated the naturalist by writing and performing in theatrical productions about Muir. While Lee portrays Muir primarily with Yosemite National Park and The Yosemite Conservancy, he has toured across the country and in Canada, Scotland, and Japan. You may also recognize him from early appearances in episodes of Hawaii 5-0.

Lee has a certificate in arts administration from Harvard University as well as a B.A. in history and an M.A. in American studies from University of Hawaii. He wrote the introduction to The Wild Muir, 22 of John Muir's Greatest Adventures and is most proud of his participation in Ken Burns' documentary, Our National Parks: America's Best Idea. Let Lee’s love of Alaska and passion for preserving the planet infuse your adventure.


Natalie Fobes

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | May 17, 2019

With a passion for the environment and wildlife protection, photographer Natalie Fobes says Alaska is her favorite place to explore. She’s done stories on Glacier Bay, logging, and commercial fishing and led photography workshops and travelled throughout the most remote corners of the state.

Natalie has a degree in Journalism from Ohio University. In addition to her work as a staff photographer for the Seattle Times, her photography has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, Audubon, and Smithsonian, among others. She is also the author of three photography books. Natalie co-founded the non-profit Blue Earth Alliance in 1995 to help documentary photographers and filmmakers tackle stories about endangered environments. Learn more about Natalie’s work at

Birding / Ornithology


Esteban Biamonte

Costa Rica & Panama:
Costa Rica & Panama—Canal, Culture, Adventure | January 19, 2020

A biologist and passionate naturalist, Esteban has spent most of his life outside in Costa Rica’s most diverse environments. Discovering an interest in birds at an early age, Esteban has carried his fascination with avian wildlife throughout his career. Writing for many publications, he contributes important observations and insight into the ecology and conservation of local avifauna. Preferring an office in-the-field, he has led countless birding trips and worked with local students sharing his knowledge of Costa Rica’s bird populations. He’s presented on birds of Central America at conservation conventions, and is actively engaged in conservation efforts to protect endemic and migrant species in Costa Rica. Esteban loves to share the little actions that can make a big difference for a better planet.

An avid traveler, Esteban never misses an opportunity to see new, exotic places even if getting into the wilderness means sleeping on the ground. Having travelled throughout three continents, with every new environment he explores, it feels like a lifetime achievement as it grows his understanding of the wild beauty and complexity of our living world. Despite the desire to seek out new destinations, Esteban never loses his interest in his own “backyard” and the many unexpected surprises the rainforest has in store.


Gwen Baluss

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | June 28, 2019

Songbirds, shorebirds, seabirds, raptors, and waterfowl…Gwen has seen it all. With a passion for wildlife protection and public lands conservation, Gwen has served as a wildlife technician with the US Forest Service in Southeast Alaska for 20 years. From field work on the ABC Islands and coordinating a broad scale survey on the Tongass National Forest to seabird surveys in Endicott Arm, she’ll tell you her favorite bird is “whatever she’s watching at the time.” But she does have a fondness for the graceful Artic Tern.  

Gwen has a Bachelor of Science in zoology and cellular-molecular biology. She is board president of the Juneau Audubon Society, the coordinator of the North Pacific Rain Forest Bird Conservation Region, a certified bander and trainer with the North American Bird Banding Council and a member of Boreal Partners in Flight. She never travels without her binoculars.


Maria Elena Muriel

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty | February 9, 2019

Ornithologist, ecotourism guide-trainer, planner, and coach Maria Elena lives by Isaac Newton’s words; "we all are standing in the shoulders of the giants of the past." First inspired when a proposed project threatened the endemic yellowthroat in her hometown, Maria Elena is motivated to inspire youth to value their heritage and understand that we all are connected.

Maria Elena has a degree in tourism administration from Sinaloa Estate University and has made a career in ecotourism and public land administration. She is a Certified Interpretive Planner and Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) as well as certified by the Mexican Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR). Maria Elena writes for a local bilingual magazine and has been written about in the American Birding Association blog. She would never travel without binoculars and a head bandana. Maria Elena’s favorite bird is the coquettish white-winged dove.

Kids & Families


Erin Kirkland

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | July 5 & August 9, 2019

Erin is the author of the “Alaska On the Go: Exploring the 49th State with Children” guidebook series, publisher of—Alaska’s only family travel resource—and a member of the Family Travel Association's media membership committee. As a busy mom of a teenage son, Erin truly lives the “on the go” lifestyle. She also writes a regular column for the Alaska Dispatch. A resident of Anchorage, Erin is an expert in Alaska products, services, and destinations for children and families.

Marine Biology


Tom Jefferson

Mexico: Baja's Bounty | January 5, 2019

Dr. Tom Jefferson is a biologist, instructor, and researcher of cetaceans—our whale and dolphin friends. Interested in marine mammals since he was a child, Tom is now most passionate about the role of scientists and naturalists in conservation. He is also an avid mountain biker and drummer.

Tom has a PhD from Texas A&M University in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. He has served as the director of Clymene Enterprises since 1995, doing biological consulting work on marine mammals to assess environmental impact, and was co-director of the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation. He has also worked with and taught for numerous organizations and universities including NOAA Fisheries, Amazon Dolphin Project, the University of Hong Kong, and National Taiwan Ocean University. Tom has presented at conferences around the world, authored and co-authored numerous books on marine mammals, and has been published in dozens of scientific journals and popular publications.


Dr. Wallace "J" Nichols

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty | January 12, 2019

Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols has been called the “Keeper of the Sea” by GQ Magazine and “a visionary” by Outside Magazine. An entrepreneurial scientist, water advocate, author, and well-known marine biologist, J. focuses on what he calls the Blue Mind—an mindset that values healthy oceans and waterways and our relationships with them. A prolific lecturer, J. has appeared in many media outlets including NPR, BBC, PBS, Animal Planet, Fast Company, Surfer, and Scientific American. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in biology and Spanish from DePauw University, a Master’s in natural resource economics and policy from Duke University, and a PhD in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. He was the recipient of a Bradley Fellowship to study sea level rise at Duke, a University of Arizona Marshall Fellowship, and Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico marine station in Mazatlán.

Work, play, and passion are intertwined for J. He lives with his family on the California coast, in an area known as the Slowcoast for its residents’ approach of supporting local artisans and farmers and the marine environment. An avid traveler, he has trekked the entire Pacific coastline from Oregon to Mexico. In 2010 he received an honorary doctorate in science from DePauw, was inducted as a Fellow National member of the Explorers Club in 2011, and in 2014 received the University of Arizona's Global Achievement Award. Learn more:



Cameron Zegers

Alaska: Whales, Wildlife & Glaciers | August 11, 2019

With a background in science and environmental education, Cameron’s photography is influenced by her studies of the natural world. She has worked as a freelance photographer and as a teacher, taking her around the globe including two years in Australia and several trips to Alaska. Always exploring new places and striving to get the next shot, Cameron’s favorite place to visit is anywhere with lots of wildlife.

Cameron studied science at the University of Oregon and went on to teach National Geographic Student Expeditions Photography in Tanzania, Iceland, and Australia. She has also led photography workshops in Southeast Asia and worked as a photography guide in Australia. Her photography has been featured in National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Photo of the Day, National Geographic Student Expeditions, Wall Street Journal, Outside Magazine, Tiny Atlas Quarterly, Budget Travel Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler. Cameron never travels without rain jacket and recommends rain cover for cameras.


Christopher Baker

Costa Rica & Panama: Pure Panama & Costa Rica Cruise | June 27, 2019

Travel photographer, writer, and journalist, Christopher Baker has been capturing images of his travels and for his stories throughout his entire career. A contributing photographer for Getty Images and National Geographic, his work has been printed in more than 200 publications throughout the world and has earned him acclaim. His awards include the 2015 North American Travel Journalist Association Awards Gold Prize in Best Photography: Portrait/People and the 2008 Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalist of the Year. Christopher has authored and co-authored a number of photographic coffee table books, as well as guidebooks and travel books.

Based in California, Christopher has travelled extensively for his career—with a special focus on Cuba, and also to fuel his passion for adventure motorcycling. He has led many photo tours, provided workshops on adventure and travel photography, and has appeared as a guest speaker in forums from National Geographic Society Live to the World Affairs Council and aboard cruise ships.


Jacqueline Deely

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders | November 16, 2018

Originally from the United Kingdom, Jacqueline has lived in the U.S. most of her adult life and calls coastal California home. Specializing in wildlife photography, she is a certified California naturalist and a member of the North American Nature Photography Association. Although her work has been published and awarded with accolades, including Female Nature Photographer of the Month with Wild Planet Photo Magazine, she is most proud of her contributions and involvement in conservation. Her images have supported numerous organizations including Audubon California, the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, The Marine Mammal Center, The Snow Leopard Conservancy, Cheetah Conservation Botswana and the Wildlife Conservation Network. Combining her lifelong passion for wildlife and the outdoors with her love of exploring, Jacqueline is driven to roam the globe in pursuit of nature's wonders. Among her travels are annual trips to the polar regions teaching photography on expedition tours. A natural instructor, she also conducts classes in her local area. Learn more about Jacqueline and her work at:


Jaymi Heimbuch

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Adventure | October 12, 2019

A San Francisco-based photographer and writer, Jaymi is passionate about creating engaging storytelling through her words and images. Her special focus has been telling the stories of animal life across the world, from the wildest wildlife to furry companions who run wild in our backyards. She has leant her skills to building awareness about the endangered Ethiopian wolf, river otter recovery, and documenting the urban coyote and gray fox.

Jaymi’s work has been published in National Geographic Books, Sierra Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine, Huffington Post, and BBC Wildlife Magazine. She is a board member with the North American Nature Photography Association, an International League of Conservation Photographers affiliate and member of shelter animal advocacy and art non-profit, HeARTs Speak. In 2014, a photo she took of a rescue dog was selected by the United Nations Postal Administration as one of only six images to be made into a stamp for International Day of Happiness.


JD Andrews

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country | May 24, 2019

JD has circled the globe for over twenty years as a photographer and videographer. His passion for capturing and sharing the world’s beauty has taken him to all seven continents and 102 countries, and counting. JD’s favorite thing about photographing in Alaska? The way the light changes everything from moment to moment.

A graduate of the University of Miami in film, JD has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, and the New York Times as well as received seven Emmys for his video work. He recommends rain covering for gear and the smart phone app – Snapseed though he personally never travels without patience. JD’s favorite place to explore is the arctic. Learn more about JD’s work at


Lisa & John Merrill

Costa Rica & Panama: Costa Rica & Panama--Canal, Culture, Adventure | November 30, 2019

After meeting in 1990 and taking weekend photography workshops, John and Lisa Merrill got married and left their jobs to travel in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They took 500 rolls of film. The Merrills have since traded their careers in tech marketing and real estate to evoke wonder, inspire action, and build businesses and strengthen communities as professional travel photographers. 

The Merrills have traveled extensively in Central and South America, feeding their curiosity in and connection with the natural and man-made world. They say photography helps them slow down and see deeply, pushing them to view the world in new ways. Lisa Merrill calls it “mindful” photography. The Merrills are members the North American Nature Photography Association and the American Society of Picture Professionals. Their images have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, Outside, Smithsonian, Geo, and numerous airline magazines and newspapers.


Mac Stone

Alaska: Alaska's Glaciers & Whales | June 9, 2019

Growing up in Gainesville, Florida Mac Stone wanted to share the photographs he took in his backyard with his friends and family. He quickly realized that the more powerful the images, the more powerful the story. His backyard photographs have blossomed into a career. A conservation photographer for 15 years, Mac has led workshops around the world from Honduras to Wyoming. 

Mac’s imagery reveals the complex relationship between mankind and the natural world. His aim is to affect positive change in habitat and species protection, especially in America’s wetlands. He has published the book, Everglades: America's Wetland and developed a program to teach children photography in Honduras. He’s spent much of the past year 80 feet up in cypress trees photographing one of the world's oldest swamps. Mac’s favorite places to explore are the subtropical wetlands of the U.S., Central and South America. He even got engaged in a tree!


Steve Essig

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty | March 23, 2019

Steve Essig has been a professional photographer and cinematographer for over 35 years. An experienced racing sailor and scuba diver, his love of the outdoors began when he climbed his first mountain with his father at age seven. Similarly, he has been passionate about photography since buying his first camera at the age eight. Steve’s quest for adventure and unique images has taken him across the globe including assignments to Tahiti, Alaska, the Sea of Cortés, Cape Horn, and Micronesia.

With over five hundred magazine covers to his credit, Steve has a wealth of photographic experience. In addition the natural world, he’s shot for sports, celebrities, automobiles, and travel, and filmed award- winning documentaries, concerts and commercials. He loves teaching, sharing insights and helping other photographers create stunning images of the world around us in his relaxed, personalized and approachable style.



Danny & Anna Akaka

Hawaii: Hawaiian Seascapes | January 5, 2019

Native Hawaiians and husband and wife team Danny and Anna Akaka have been known to showcase their Aloha spirit via Hawaiian canoe, storytelling, and ukulele. While their first canoe voyage in 1995 took them along the Pacific Northwest, today they stay closer to home, infusing their storytelling, ukulele-accompanied singing, and dancing with a warm Hawaiian welcome.

Danny is both a Hawaiian priest, or kahu, and the Director of Cultural Affairs at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on the Island of Hawaii. Here Danny delivers a dose Hawaiian history and culture to his guests. He also hosts a monthly evening storytelling program– which often includes music and hula– to preserve the art of Hawaiian folk storytelling. Prior to his work at Mauna Lani, Danny worked for Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Holidays, Hawaiian Foliage & Landscaping, and Hawaii Maritime Center. Anna grew up on Hawai‘i nurtured by the balance of spirituality and physical wellbeing. She learned hula at an early age and continues to practice this tradition as well as lauhala weaving and feather lei making.


Susan Shillinglaw

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty | February 2, 2019

There aren’t many things that get Dr. Susan Shillinglaw as pumped as John Steinbeck. She has been a Steinbeck scholar for 30 years, and whatever your personal stance on his writing, her enthusiasm for this American author is infectious. She is intimately familiar with Steinbeck’s work including The Log from the Sea of Cortez—and will pepper your journey with stories from his classic 1940s voyage. Since 2015, Dr. Shillinglaw has been the Director of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California. Prior to that, she was a professor of American Literature at San Jose University where she also served as the Director of the University’s Center for Steinbeck Studies for 18 years and the President’s Scholar for 2012-2013.

With her husband, marine biologist William Gilly, Susan has co-directed five summer institutes for high school teachers, with a sixth institute coming in 2018. Dr. Susan has published extensively on Steinbeck, including two books and the introductions to several editions of Penguin New American Library books. She is currently working on a short biography of Steinbeck for Reaktion Books, London.



Alexis Marianes

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders—Costa Rica & Panama Canal | March 8, 2019

Alexis is a naturalist and yoga instructor with an inspiring story. After years of competitive sports took a toll on her body, she moved to Indonesia to work on a reef sustainability project where a guru introduced her to the meditative aspect of yoga. Now her passion for integrating the natural world with the human essence is evident in everything she does. There is no distinction between Alexis’ work and play. She is always doing both—overwhelmed with gratitude that she’s able to do so.

Alexis has most recently taught yoga in Trinidad, motivated by healing ailments through breath and asana. She has studied at World Peace Yoga School in Rishikesh, India as well Johns Hopkins University where she earned a PhD in Cellular, Molecular, and Developmental Biology and Biophysics. She has been published in Journal of Immunology, researched and taught biology all over the world, and is currently doing a conservation study on fertility in frogs comparing the health of tadpoles and frogs in polluted and unpolluted habitats. Her favorite place to explore is any forest.


Bud Wilson

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders—Costa Rica & Panama Canal | March 8, 2019

Former National Football Foundation Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Bud Wilson now pursues his passions for environmental sustainability, preserving nature, and health as a wilderness guide, awareness trainer, and Qi Gong instructor. Having gone on a 108 day learning journey through Nepal, Thailand, and Indonesia followed by a 40 day solo in Arizona, we’re excited for Bud to bring his love of nature and wellness to Costa Rica and Panama.

Bud is the executive director of Earth Walk, Nature Centered Learning in Utah, global director of Eco Leadership for The Way of Nature, and runs Deep Nature Journeys in Utah and Colorado. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University and has been published in dozens of articles in Elephant Journal. Motivated by observing the personal growth and transformation people experience from connecting with the Earth and spirit, Bud never travels without his sense of wonder and appreciation for possibilities. His favorite place to explore is wherever the natural world remains unspoiled by human development. Bud, you’ve come to the right place!


Hunt Parr

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | May 3, 2019

Originally from Petersburg, Alaska, Hunt is currently based in New York City. A highly-sought yoga teacher and modern dance artist, he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. A registered yoga teacher, he completed some of his 1,000 teacher training hours under renowned instructors Cyndi Lee and Adrienne Burke. He has provided yoga instruction and consultation for Buzzfeed, A&E Networks, Animal Planet, Lifetime and the History Channel and has been featured on the Huffington Post and in Yoga Journal publications. He currently teaches private sessions and also maintains a busy group class schedule at several studios in the city. Hunt is also a Reiki Master teacher and a devoted student of Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

While his classes are vigorous, Hunt always adds a bit of fun and play to the practice. The sequences he presents are unique and his style of instruction had been described by students as lyrical. Calling himself a “student of anatomy, meditation, movement, music, and happiness” you can be sure your body, heart, and spirit will be charged up and inspired after a practice with him.


Grace MacLeod

Mexico: Baja's Bounty—Fitness & Yoga | January 26, 2019

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Adventure | October 26, 2019

Since her mother took her to yoga at 15, wellness and mindfulness have become both Grace’s personal lifestyle and professional calling. Grace is a spiritual counselor, relationship and leadership coach, and retreat leader with a passion for serving and supporting the "waking up" of humanity by helping people care for themselves, each other, and the planet. She’s even created a mindful breath practice.

Grace is a certified Kripalu Yoga Teacher and certified Wave Work Facilitator with experience teaching at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and Kripalu Leadership Center & Center for Work and the Human Spirit. She has also been a leader for Renewal Retreats in Nature. As a self-proclaimed seeker of sun and clear, sparkling water, Grace has moved more than thirty times—always finding new people to connect with. She looks forward to helping you connect to your source and live a heart-centered, purpose-guided life.


Lisa Karr

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | September 1, 2019

Lisa has helped people reach their health and fitness goals for over 10 years as a personal trainer and group fitness Instructor. Based on her own passion to stay fit, she’s now most motivated to motivate others and is most proud of helping a co-worker to lose over 100 pounds. Lisa is certified by SCW Fitness Education, MOSSA, and as a NCSF Personal Trainer.

When she’s not training or teaching, this proud grandmother can be found hitting the open road on her 2004 Harley Davidson Deuce. By bike or small ship, Lisa never travels without her toothbrush and essential oils.


Liz Galloway

Mexico's Sea of Cortes: Baja's Bounty—Fitness & Yoga | January 26, 2019

With over 17 years in spa therapy and training, health and wellness are both a career and a lifestyle for Liz. And there’s no stopping her. As a fitness instructor, yoga teacher, wellness instructor and retreat host, massage therapist, and spa trainer and director, she has pushed her personal boundaries and learning while helping guests achieve their goals. Liz has a BA in business and hospitality management, is certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the Professional Association of Wilderness Guide and Instructors, and has contributed to numerous publications. From teaching and running luxury spa brands to sky diving and bungee jumping, Liz loves a challenge.

She also believes being active in the outdoors is key to balanced living—which might be why her favorite place to explore is anywhere by the ocean. Liz has also spent six months in Morocco studying Arabic, surfing, and learning about the spas, wellness, and culture of the area. Her goal is to join the century travel club by traveling to over 100 countries. Wherever she goes, Liz packs her headphones, music, and audio books, along with her mint/eucalyptus face spritz.


Mary Van Heukelom

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | May 3, 2019

Mary places the focus of her practice on guiding and inspiring others to discover their optimal health of mind, body and spirit. She is a certified personal trainer, ACSM-certified cancer exercise trainer, and RRCA-certified running coach. Mary has also completed training seminars in kettlebell, TRX, Pilates, indoor cycling, HIIT, wellness coaching, and meditation. She brings on board unique expertise in corrective exercises to ease pain and improve balance, the positive impact of meditation on whole health, goal setting, nutrition, and key training for ideal health.

Mary takes a whole-health approach to helping her clients overcome barriers through small group training where she can provide focused attention to meet individual needs. She specializes in coaching cancer survivors on a holistic path toward eliminating relapse and boosting recovery. Throughout her programs, Mary has trained and led cancer survivors on treks to Mt. Everest Basecamp, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Race Across America, among other challenging objectives. An adventurer to the core, she finds a way to get outside—ski, kayak, bike, swim, no matter the weather and conditions in her Iowa home.


Melanie Psaltakis

Alaska: Alaska's Glacier Country—Fitness & Yoga | September 1, 2019

Melanie started practicing yoga to complement running, biking, and hiking and quickly realized yoga integrated her body, mind, and heart—giving her a happier and more balanced life. She now teaches yoga in fitness centers, studios, corporate settings, and at a Yoga in the Park series as well as provides private instruction and leads yoga retreats.

Melanie is certified in Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500, YACEP, YogaFit for Warriors Trauma-Sensitive Certified Yoga Teacher, Anusara Immersion Program, and AFAA-CGFI. Melanie has travelled the world both to teach yoga and experience new places from photographing Sweden’s Northern Lights to scuba diving with sharks to returning to her favorite spots, New Zealand and Greece. She also combines her love of fitness with volunteering by being a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Bike Patrol, offering assistance with bike problems and information about the park. She is excited to practice yoga with you in Alaska and inspire you to be your personal best.

Wildlife Biology


Victor Acosta-Chaves

Costa Rica & Panama: Unveiled Wonders—Costa Rica & Panama Canal | Jan 4 & 11, 2019

Since Victor was four years old, he’s known that he wanted to be a naturalist or biologist. Today he’s a biologist and professor, specializing in herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians. You might say Victor’s come a long way since pre-school days, living out his dream anytime he’s exploring new places and making new discoveries. As an expert in Costa Rican ecosystems, Victor will tell you that Costa Rica is the perfect place to see crowds of ecosystems and biodiversity in very short distances and time. So come along for the ride!

Victor has a Masters in Science from the University of Costa Rica and has since worked as a biologist, consultant, instructor, and guide. He has published 29 scientific manuscripts including natural history notes and full papers about conservation and the ecology and behavior of amphibians, reptiles and birds. He never travels without his digital camera and binoculars.

Wine & Culinary


Adam Sawyer

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine  & Culinary | November 16 & 23, 2019

Meet Adam—a fan of Pinot Noir Rosé and fresh Oregon strawberries pairing. As a food & drink, travel, and outdoors writer, photographer, and guide, Adam is well-versed in leading culinary tours. He’s also a big fan of the Columbia River Gorge. Adam is passionate about sharing his favorite flavors and places of the Columbia and Snake rivers with others who share his fascination.

Adam has authored or co-authored six books and written stories for the Oregonian, Willamette Week, and the Portland Mercury. His work has also appeared in Northwest Travel & Life, 1859, 1889, Portland Monthly, Columbia River Gorge, Cascade Journal, OnTrak, and Backpacker Magazines. His online publications include Journey AAA, Travel Oregon, Eater, Canoe & Kayak, Red Tricycle, and Tillamook Coast. Adam is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and has lived in 21 different cities. What’s Adam most excited about? The quality of ingredients in the rivers and the fact that there are almost no rules about how to use them. So are we!


Jennifer Burns Bright

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine  & Culinary | December 7, 2019

Travel writer and educator Jennifer Burns Bright prides herself on being able to go into the ocean and pick a salad for breakfast. When she’s not teaching seafood culinary classes or giving talks on the seafood industry and PNW traditions, she’s writing to empower people to better understand their food systems and regional traditions.

Jennifer is a certified Master Food Preserver with a Ph.D. from University of California, Irvine. She has been published in Eugene Magazine, Eugene Weekly, AAA’s Via and Journey magazines, and, among others. She’s also written an award-winning food blog, Culinaria Eugenius, taught food studies at the University of Oregon, and co-hosted a food radio show on Eugene's NPR affiliate. Some of her favorite food and wine pairings are raw oysters and Muscadet, halibut curry with an off-dry riesling, and albacore tuna grilled in fig leaves with a full-bodied rosé. Yum! Jennifer can’t wait to show off the wild-caught fish—and many other local tastes—of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Visit her website at



Shannon Borg

Columbia & Snake Rivers: Rivers of Wine & Culinary | November 2 & 9, 2019

Originally from Spokane, Shannon has written about and traveled through Eastern Washington her whole life. She’s passionate about sustainably produced wines, eager to tell the stories of the people who produce amazing food and beverages in her career as a wine writer and educator. Along the Columbia & Snake Rivers, she’s eager to spend time with the artisans who push the envelope with their innovative products. Her favorite pairings are, believe it or not, pinot noir and roast duck and cheddar cheese and cabernet sauvignon.

In addition to sipping and storytelling, Shannon has been a wine director and wine buyer. She also has a Wine Fundamentals I & II certificate from the International Sommelier Guild and has been published in Seattle Magazine, NW Palate, Wine Press NW, and Washington Tasting Room Magazine. Shannon has published two books: “The Green Vine: A Guide to West Coast Organic, Biodynamic and Sustainable Wines” and “Chefs on the Farm: Inspired Recipes and Lessons from the Quillisascut Farm School of the Domestic Arts.”  She also has a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and a BA in English from Brigham Young University. Plus, Shannon’s an artist! She makes oil paintings, focusing on oyster shells and seaweed—her favorite things to forage in the San Juan Islands.