Our Upcoming Tours & Retreats

Water and the West
January 13–18, 2019
Lochsa Lodge, ID
see the full itinerary

Shakespeare without Tears
January 19-24, 2019
Lochsa Lodge, ID
see the full itinerary

Steinbeck's California
March 2-8, 2019
Monterey, CA
see the full itinerary

Jefferson and France
Fall 2019
more info to be announced

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

Please contact us with your questions or to make a reservation.
(701) 751-7060

Winter Retreats: Humanities at Lochsa Lodge

In January of 2019, 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 2019, 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 Water and the West and Shakespeare without Tears.


Water and the West

There isn't enough of it, now more than ever. The history of how water has been redistributed throughout the lands beyond the hundredth meridian is utterly fascinating. We'll concentrate on three river systems in the West: the Columbia, the Colorado, and Clay's Missouri River, each one sometimes claiming to "the most industrialized river in America."

Among the subjects: William Mulholland's theft of the water of California's Owens Valley for Los Angeles; the building of the great dams on the Colorado and the Columbia; the devastation of Native American homelands by the great earthen dams on the Missouri River; John Wesley Powell's attempt to rethink the western development paradigm in the face of the scarcity of water in the region; the likely impact of global climate change on American water supplies and access; salmon. And much more.

We will begin by centering ourselves in the "water commonwealth" at Lochsa Lodge.

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Shakespeare without Tears

Some of the best writing in the English language comes from the pen of poet, playwright, and actor William Shakespeare. Many people feel intimidated by Shakespeare, perhaps because of their high school encounters with Julius Caesar or Romeo and Juliet. Clay’s approach is to demystify Shakespeare, to teach participants how to read Shakespeare with joy, confidence, and discernment.

Although Clay is often regarded as a historian, his actual training, at the University of Minnesota and Oxford, was in English Literature, the Renaissance, Shakespeare, John Donne, and John Milton. All of his degrees are in English. With the help of the best film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, Clay will guide us through two plays per day, plus some sonnets, and related poetry by his personal favorite John Donne.

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Clay has taught Shakespeare at Pomona College, the law school of the University of North Dakota, the University of Vermont, and Bismarck State College.

You will be amazed by the level of joy, laughter, and unpretentious literary satisfaction you experience in this humanities retreat.


John Steinbeck's California

Jackson Benson, in his preface to John Steinbeck, Writer, wrote:

This is the story of a man who was a writer. He cared about language, and he cared about people. He didn’t want to be famous or popular – he just wanted to write books. But he became both. From among the many serious writers of our time, he became for a great many people, here and throughout the world, the one writer who counted, the one who touched them. He made words sing, and he made people laugh and cry. He also made them think – about loneliness, self-deception, and injustice. And in all that he wrote, he testified to his belief that everything that lives is holy.


For almost 80 years now, John Steinbeck has remained among the most read and admired authors around the world, his works translated into more than 50 languages. Now you have the opportunity to join Clay in discussing and exploring some of Steinbeck’s greatest works in the very places that inspired them, the part of the world known as Steinbeck Country. You’ll spend a week on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, hiking along California’s rugged central coast and the dark and foreboding Santa Lucia mountains, exploring the stunning Monterey waterfront that stretches from Steinbeck’s famed Cannery Row to Fisherman’s Wharf and Monterey Harbor, and visiting the lush Salinas Valley, the “Salad Bowl of the World,” nestled into the foothills of Steinbeck’s beloved Gabilan range.


Clay has been portraying Steinbeck now for years, and your experience will begin with the chance to sit down with the reclusive author to discuss his life and work. You’ll also dine in Steinbeck’s boyhood home, and you’ll visit his beloved Point Lobos south of Carmel Bay. You’ll see Rocinante, the truck and camper that took Steinbeck and his poodle Charley around the country in 1960 in their effort to “rediscover America,” and you’ll climb to the top of Fremont’s Peak to stand on the very spot where Steinbeck saw his country for the final time. Other highlights include a visit to Ed Ricketts’ Lab on Cannery Row, one of the nation’s great literary landmarks, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the chance to explore the tide pools near Point Pinos Lighthouse where Steinbeck and Ricketts worked and played, discussing and developing their philosophy of the interconnectedness of life, the futility of man’s attempts to deny the dynamics of nature, and the way in which groups in the natural world have “purpose” that eludes the understanding of their individual members.

Clay believes that coming to terms with Steinbeck’s California landscapes requires a significant encounter with his prose, his powers of description, his imagination, his political and social concerns, and his capacity to create narrative. Each day Clay will lead daily discussions of some of Steinbeck’s finest works, and then we’ll venture out to explore Steinbeck’s world. In the evenings we’ll sit by a fire, sip the great wines of Monterey County, and watch central California’s amazing sunsets from the tip of the Monterey Peninsula. And throughout the week you’ll have first class accommodations, some amazing meals at outstanding restaurants, and lots of other encounters with Steinbeck’s world.


Make a Reservation

We are currently taking reservations for Shakespeare without TearsWater and the West, and Steinbeck in California. Interested in Jefferson in France in Fall 2019 or any of our other upcoming tours? Please contact us!

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

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Cassie Jeter

e-mail: tours@cstravelplanners.com
Telephone: (701) 751-7060

PO Box 3026
Bismarck, ND 58502

For Cassie, traveling is more than just ticking destinations off a list – it’s about learning to appreciate and love other places, people and cultures.

Feeding the wanderlust of sun bathers, vista chasers, and the intellectually curious motivated her to create CS Travel Planners. In the spring of 2014, she formed a travel company focusing on bespoke curated itineraries infused with culture and adventure travel based out of Bismarck, ND.

To stay on top of travel trends, Cassie is in constant communication with hotelier friends and colleagues, visits partner properties / experiences as often as she can, and frequently attends industry events.

Favorite Travel Tip: Combine good organization and structure of the travel basics with plenty of time for spontaneity because some of the best memories come from the unexpected.

CSTP's services: Custom Itineraries | Commercial & Private Charter Air | Adventure, Expedition, and Wellness Travel | Boutique River Cruises | Solo, Couples, Group, Family Travel | Honeymoons | Destination Weddings & Corporate Retreats  | Insurance Consultancy | Passport & Visa Processing | 24/7/365 Accessibility

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

Please read our Terms & Conditions and Frequently Asked Questions. 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 or by contacting our office.

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


Jefferson and France. Fall 2019.

Three days in Paris, two in Bordeaux, two in Arles. After exploring Jefferson’s Paris, we’ll visit Bordeaux, where Jefferson devised a wine classification system that was adopted by the region fifty years later. Time and tastings at vineyards with a family memory of Jefferson’s visit in 1787. And: a visit to Montaigne’s castle, where the first great essays of modern history were written. Then to Nimes to see the Maison Quarree, what Jefferson called “the most precious morsel of antiguity,” the building that served as the model for the new state capitol in Richmond. To Arles for time among Roman antiquities. A brief stop at Aix-en-Provence, where Jefferson took the mineral waters to ease the pain in his wrist, damaged in a romantic escapade with Maria Cosway in Paris.

Add On Tour: For those who wish it, five days on the Canal du Midi (Canal Languedoc), where Jefferson in 1787 spent more than a week in his quest to learn the best technologies for canal development in America.

Clay’s Notes: I have done this trip twice before, with my friend Michele Basta of the University of Nevada libraries. It’s a fabulous trip. We know a great deal about Jefferson’s time in France, and it’s possible to visit sites that were important to him. Don’t let your lack of French intimidate you. We’ll have good local interpreters to smooth our way. Jefferson said every man’s first country is of course his own, but every rational man’s second country must be France. If you are interested in the aesthetic side of Jefferson, this is your trip: music, architecture, painting, sculpture, gardens, and French salon culture. We’ll also talk about Jefferson and the French Revolution, which he (at first) thought of as the next logical step in the liberation of the world after the American Revolution. The Hotel de Salm in Paris became the template for Jefferson’s rebuild of Monticello (with the dome), and the Maison Quarree became the template for the capitol at Richmond. We’ll spend a good deal of time discussing Jefferson’s last love affair, with Maria Cosway, and visit places where their platonic romance unfolded.

I did the canal trip many years ago. It’s pure magic. It’s maybe the finest canal trip in Europe. You can walk along the tow path or ride a bicycle. The French essentially invented the farm to table movement. This is pure Enlightenment luxury.

If you are interested in this tour, sign up as soon as possible. A very large number of people have expressed interest in this trip in the last few years and now, thanks to new associations, we are able to make it happen.


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.