Our Upcoming Tours & Retreats

Exploring the Space Program — Sold Out
January 12-17, 2020
see the full itinerary

The Imagination of Charles Dickens — Sold Out
January 18-23, 2020
see the full itinerary

Historical Cuba — Sold Out
February 8-16, 2020
see the full itinerary

The Lewis & Clark Trail
July 24 – August 2, 2020
see the full itinerary

Take a look at our upcoming tours, including Homeric Greece, Shakespeare’s England, Robert Oppenheimer’s Desert Southwest, and Rome & Italy. 

Please contact us with your questions or to make a reservation.

Winter Retreats: Humanities at Lochsa Lodge

In January of 2020, join us for a peaceful humanities retreat in the heart of Lewis & Clark’s Bitterroot Mountains. Enjoy good food, fine wine, a magical landscape, snug cabins, great books, and the kinds of conversations you always dream about when you read. Clay S. Jenkinson is a master conversationalist, facilitator, and storyteller, and he looks forward to these days of playful but serious discussion for the full year.

Bring your friends. Make new ones. Rest, read, sip, meditate, converse, confess, and argue in the best sense of the term. Soak in the hot springs.

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We meet for conversation mid-morning, early afternoon, and occasionally in the evening, but there will be plenty of time each day for reading, writing, outdoor exploring, and an optional group activity. Lochsa Lodge offers you a beautiful setting near the magnificent Lochsa River; hearty, country meals; a daily outdoor campfire; and a crackling fire indoors. The lodge, rebuilt in 2001, is modern. The cabins are snug, some of them Spartan. Some cabins were built in 1929, others in 2002. They are precisely what you envision when you think of a winter retreat in the woods.

There will, of course, be some talk about the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

In 2020, we are offering two retreats at Lochsa Lodge. Come to one. Come to both. Come join our whimsical mix of laughter and delightful conversation and intellectual insight.

Join us for The Imagination of Charles Dickens and Exploring the Space Program.

 

Exploring the Space Program

The moon landing in July 1969 was one of the handful of greatest moments in the history of human civilization. And it was just the beginning. 

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The literature of the US, Soviet, and now Chinese space programs (1957-2019) is outstanding. Clay is most interested in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, beginning with Alan Shepard’s 15-minute sub-orbital mission in May 1961, through Apollo 11, to the last moon landing in December 1972 (Apollo 17). We’ll pay particular attention to the breathtaking Apollo 8 mission (December 1968, culminating in the reading of the first eight verses of Genesis from lunar orbit), without neglecting humankind’s first step on the moon or Apollo 13’s heroics in April 1970. We’ll spend some time talking about Skylab, the Shuttle, the International Space Station, Mars landings, and probes to the edges of the solar system—and beyond.

 
 

The Imagination of Charles Dickens

There may be better novelists in the English language, but there is no greater writer than Charles Dickens (1812-1870). Forget the plots. Dickens’ capacity to explore the gritty underworld of mid-nineteenth century London, his comic genius, his indictments of the British legal system, his sympathy for those exploited or left behind by the industrial revolution, and the sheer exuberance of his use of the English language, make him unique among all writers. His great characters—Pickwick, Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Jaggers, Miss Havisham, Mrs. Jellyby, &c.—have risen out of the pages of his books to become permanent residents in the human imagination.

 

 Improved U.S. relations with Cuba means new tourism opportunities, and there are already many ways you can experience the island nation, but few opportunities to dive deep into the most momentous times and places in U.S.-Cuba history. Our Cuban-American History Tour covers more than 500 miles and 500 years of history. With historian Clay Jenkinson and a select group of English-speaking Cuban guides, you will experience first-hand the history and culture of this incredible island.

We’ll begin in the region of Cuba’s “Second City,” Santiago de Cuba. We will visit the site of the Battle of Las Guasimas, where Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders saw their first action of the Spanish-American War, then travel to San Juan Hill, where Roosevelt famously overrode orders and led a successful charge that led to U.S. victory. We’ll see the Caribbean bay outside of Santiago where the U.S. Navy pummeled the vaunted Spanish fleet, leading to Spain’s ultimate surrender.

Then we’ll take a day to travel through the heart of the island towards Havana, Cuba’s capital city, with a stop at Bay of Pigs to explore the site of perhaps the biggest near-disaster in American history—and to take advantage of the world-class swimming and snorkeling opportunities there.

Once in Havana, we will visit Finca Vigia, where Ernest Hemingway lived and wrote some of his most memorable works. We’ll also direct you to some of Papa Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, such as La Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio. And we’ll visit the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, the site of the infamous Havana Conference, a meeting of mafia bosses memorably dramatized by Francis Ford Coppola in The Godfather Part II.

Trips includes all ground transportation, and we’ve selected excellent casa particulars (the Cuban version of B&B’s) and other 4-star accommodations. For all of our in-country logistics we have teamed up with Experience Cuba, owned by Joslin Fritz. A long-time traveler and international guide, Joslin began leading people-to-people exchange programs to Cuba in 2012. Travel with us and experience an unparalleled, hassle-free dive into the rich history and culture of Cuba!

Join Jefferson scholar and author Clay Jenkinson in exploring the less-traveled reaches of the Lewis & Clark Trail in Montana and Idaho. On this exclusive adventure, we hike, canoe, swim, sing, tell stories, explore historic sites, gaze at the stars, sit around bonfires, and learn about the most important exploration party in American history.

Hike the Trail

We'll spend three days on the magnificent White Cliffs section of the Missouri River, then a night in a wonderful historic hotel in Fort Benton, followed by four days on the Lolo Trail in the exact footsteps of Lewis & Clark, on the most pristine portion of the entire national Lewis & Clark Trail.

Camp in Style

No struggling with tent set-up or camp stoves on this trip. Our experienced outfitter ensures you will be greeted at the end of an adventurous day by a comfortable tent site, a cold drink, and hearty hors d'oeuvres, followed by dinner on a tablecloth in the wilderness.

Your tour begins in Great Falls, MT, and ends in Missoula - a mildly strenuous week of historical commentary, interpretation, wit, storytelling, and discussion of the meaning of American wilderness with nationally- acclaimed Jefferson and Lewis & Clark scholar Clay S. Jenkinson. The tour includes an evening with Meriwether Lewis himself, guide services by the finest Montana and Idaho outfitters, equipment for four nights of camping and canoeing, all activities, lodging, meals, transport, museum and USFS fees, state and local taxes, and gratuities. Airfare is not included.

Join award-winning historian, humanities scholar, and Meriwether Lewis biographer Clay Jenkinson on this cultural tour in the heart of the Lewis & Clark Trail.

 

Make a Reservation

We are currently taking reservations for The Lewis & Clark Trail.

The Historical Cuba tour, the Imagination of Charles Dickens retreat and the Exploring the Space Program retreat are sold out.

Please fill out the form below to notify us of your interest in any of the tours.

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Our cultural tours manager will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Traveling single? We can match you with a roommate or ask us about our single room supplemental fee.

We recommend that you purchase travel insurance for your protection in the unexpected event you many need to cancel. Travel insurance can be provided by your local travel agency.

Clay S. Jenkinson is onboard for the duration of all tours and retreats.

 
 

Homeric Greece

Our journey will take us to places important to the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. These include Athens, Delphi, the Mycenaean palace cultures of the Peloponnese; and several of the Greek islands, Crete and Chios, which is traditionally said to be the birthplace of Homer. We will then visit the coast of Asia Minor, including Ephesus and Troy. Greece is magnificent no matter what takes you there, but a journey through Homeric sites is particularly delightful. We will have extensive discussions of the Homeric epics (I prefer Lattimore on the Iliad and Fagles on the Odyssey), and also the pioneering work of Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890), who revolutionized our understanding of Homer because he, virtually alone in his time, believed that the epics are based on actual historical events. The journey will take about twelve days. Watch for pricing and more specific details soon.

Clay’s Notes: I’ve done versions of this trip twice before. In fact, in a previous visit to Troy I emulated Achilles in “running three times around Troy walls.” If I were wealthy I would spend a month per year in Greece, which is my favorite European country (excepting only Britain). At Oxford long ago I read Homer in the original Greek. We’ll discuss various translations of Homer, beginning with Chapman’s version in the Age of Shakespeare and culminating in the new postmodern slang translation by John Dolan. You should expect to be overwhelmed by the Acropolis museum in Athens and the National Museum where the “Mask of Agamemnon” is kept. We will consult the Oracle at Delphi. I don’t know that I have ever seen anything more purely impressive than the Cyclopean walls at Mycenae, traditionally the home of the Greek war leader Agamemnon. But for all of that, much of our time will be spent gazing at the wine-dark sea, eating Greek salads and fresh seafood, and exploring the foundation culture of secular western civilization.

Shakespeare’s England

Four days in London, with several plays at the reconstructed Globe Theater, three days in Stratford, with several plays at the Royal Shakespeare Company theaters. Of course there will be plenty of talk about Shakespeare, but we won’t fail to explore the larger theater of the English Renaissance, with emphasis on Clay’s favorite English poet John Donne, and also Christopher Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon, and much more.

Clay’s Notes: I lived in Britain for four years, where I studied at Oxford and explored the British Isles as often as possible. During my time at Oxford I was able to see 34 of the 37 Shakespeare plays, including Hamlet nine times. Although I spend a great deal of time studying history, my actual fields are English literature and classical culture. My daughter Catherine recently completed a degree in early modern history at St. Andrews University. My favorite English authors include Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dr. Johnson, James Boswell, Dickens, John Donne, John Keats, and of course Milton.

Cuba with Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemmingway. A full week in Cuba before it gets destroyed by American-style development. We start at Key West visiting Hemingway’s house there, then fly to Havana, where our Cuban explorations begin. Part of the time we will tour Hemingway’s Cuba, and the rest of the time we will re-live the Spanish American War, including, of course, Theodore Roosevelt’s heroic assault of San Juan Hill in July 1898.

Clay’s Notes: I’ve never been to Cuba, but my friend Wayne Fairchild, the outfitter of my Lewis and Clark cultural tours, has been several times and he is most eager to take care of our hospitality needs there. Roosevelt is one of my principal historical interests. I so want to see Cuba before the Costco imperialists take over. And Hemingway? What could be better than that?

Robert Oppenheimer’s Desert Southwest

My favorite historical character is J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the Atomic Bomb. He’s truly a tragic figure, the one who built the bomb (flawlessly, on time, under budget, in time to affect the outcome of the war) but said, at the first test, “I am become Death, shatterer of worlds.” Los Alamos is endlessly interesting, but we will also visit Alamagordo, where on July 16, 1945, the first atomic device in human history was detonated. Much of our exploration will be Oppenheimer’s desert world (he said his two great loves were deserts and physics, pity they could not be combined!), but we will also talk about morality and technology, appropriate technology, and the world of weapons of mass destruction. This journey will require about six days.

Rome and Italy

Clay has been spending approximately six weeks per year in Rome teaching for a Catholic liberal arts university. This trip will require about 11 days: four in Rome (ancient Rome, Renaissance and Baroque Rome, Enlightenment Rome, Mussolini’s Rome), three in Florence and surrounding territory, two days in Naples (including, of course, Pompeii), and two more days in north central Italy where we will visit several of the Palladian villas in Vincenzo. Wine, pasta, architecture, history, music, and more. Clay will be joined by his Italian-speaking friend Thomas Schulzetenberg, who spent four full years in Rome for the University of Mary.

Clay’s Notes: I’ve fallen in love with Italy in the last few years. Jefferson only saw a bit of northern Italy, but he would have been so smitten with the Pantheon (in my view, the world’s most beautiful building) that he might never have returned to Virginia. I cannot get enough of Bernini’s sculpture or Caravaggio’s painting, but these are just a couple of my Rome passions. My intellectual passions include the classical world, the emergence of Christianity as a world culture, the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and more; and I have a strange special fascination with Mussolini, whose “footprint” in Rome is huge. We’ll read Vergil’s Aeneid together and some of the lives of Plutarch. Mostly we will just luxuriate in a world that never ceases to intrigue us.