Category Archives: Culinary Experiences

Columbia and Snake River Cruises Announced for 2011 and 2012

801929869_guests_kayaking_in_front_of_waterfall[1]The best way to see the majestic Columbia River Gorge is aboard a lovely 8 day/9 nights cruise expedition.   Each day passengers will experience lively discussions with their own on-board naturalist who will also accompany them on many of the shore excursions.  Shore visits range from exploring bird migration routes to exhilarating jet boat rides on the Snake River up the famous Hell’s Canyon.  Experience the Hanford National Monument, kayak the lower Columbia River or relax onboard in the yacht’s hot tub sipping an exceptional Oregon or Washington world class wine. 

 Cruises depart from Lewiston, Idaho to Portland, Oregon on Sept. 24, Oct. 08 and Nov. 19 for 2011.  Eastbound sailings depart from Portland to Lewiston,  Oct. 22 and Nov. 05, 2011 and all of these sailing dates showcase the lovely Indian Summers of the Pacific Northwest. 

 Extend your vacation for 2 nights and try Sturgeon fishing on the Snake River with a hotel stay on our North Idaho diamond, Lake Coeur d’Alene.  For information on sightseeing  and unique experiences as well as the Sturgeon fishing mini-vacation, ask for Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours & Cruises.  We are your vacation specialist for the Pacific Northwest.

Canadian Rocky Mountaineer Rail & Wine Tours


It is still possible to experience a mode of travel from a by-gone era with all the luxury and leisure that train travel provides.  The Rocky Mountaineer is more than just a train ride–it has been called “The Worlds Leading Travel Experience by Train”.   New for 2011 will be a delightful pairing of rail travel through the rugged Canadian wilderness and wine tasting in the Okanagan Valley, internationally famous for it’s wines and wineries.

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

This tour begins in cosmopolitan Vancouver, B.C., spending the evening downtown at The Fairmont Hotel before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer bound for Kamloops.  The day will be spent passing through the fields of the Fraser Valley and viewing the towering peaks of the Coast Mountains before entering the Fraser Canyon and experiencing the thundering waters of Hell’s Gate.  The next three days you will visit seven of the Okanagan Valley’s leading wineries, enjoying special wine tastings, delicious meals and stunning scenery.   Once again aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll be bound for Banff, Alberta travelling along the South Thompson River into Rogers Pass, with its tunnels, snowsheds andimagesCAN8HO0A glistening glaciers.  The train will climb through the Spiral Tunnels  and over the Continental Divide before entering Banff National Park and overnighting at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  After two days to explore the rugged beauty of Banff National Park and the Rocky Mountains, you’ll be trasferred to Calgary to make your way home.


With only two departure dates, June 16 and September 8, 2011 you’ll want to reserve your place on this special rail tour early.  This 7 night/8 day tour includes two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, 7 nights hotel accomodations, 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 4 dinners (including several food/wine paired meals), private motorcoach travel in the Okanagan region with guided winery tours and tastings as well as adventure activities in Banff National Park.


TMI Tours of Coeur d’Alene wants to invite you to recapture the romance of rail travel aboard the Rocky Mountaineer as it follows the historic train routes constructed over 125 years ago through the rugged Rocky Mountains of Western Canada.  Contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand for availability, rates and help designing your vacation to the Pacific Northwest. 1-800-975-7775 or [email protected].  photos courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer.

Columbia River Adventure with Wine & Concerts


One of my greatest discoveries this summer had to be The Gorge Ampitheatre on the Columbia River near Quincy in Washington State.    Perched on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge and surrounded by vineyards, orchards and wineries, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect backdrop for attending a concert and seeing my favorite artists in live performance.   Imagine my surprise to find the elegant Cave B Inn and Winery at Sagecliffe right next door and, in fact, The Gorge Ampitheatre sits on land that once was part of the vineyards.


Poised 900 feet above the Columbia River, Cave B Inn is surrounded by estate vineyards and fragrant orchards with breathtaking views of sky, water and canyon.  The guestrooms are serene and comforting but your eyes will be drawn to the exquisite Cliffehouses perched on the edge of the Gorge and facing the evening sunset.  This imagesCAVCKZMGunique resort offers guests full spa services, a cliff-side swimming pool, exquisite dining and of course, the distinctive  Cave B/Sagecliffe wines.  Aside from offering visitors standard wine tastings, there are also options for  blind wine challenges, wine blending experiences and “ right from the barrel” tastings to make your visit memorable.  Should you choose to spend a couple days, be sure to embark on an eco-adventure of  bicycling through the vineyards, rock climbing the walls of the gorge or kayaking  the Columbia River.  Even better, combine a stay at Cave B Inn with a concert at the Gorge Ampitheater and you may find yourself breakfasting with your favorite band the next morning.

justin-moore-at-the-gorge-28[1]The Gorge Ampitheatre is set against the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge and takes full advantage of the most spectacular sunsets you will ever experience.  With the cool breezes blowing up from the river mixed with music from the stage and thousands of fans relaxing on the sloping lawns, there isn’t a better venue for animagesCA9G5STE evening of fun and friends.  As the sun goes down behind the stage, the Columbia River Gorge is bathed in all the colors of a Pacific Northwest sunset.  Acoustics in this natural ampitheatre are fantastic so whether you choose to kick back on the sloping lawns or join the excitement of front row seating, this will be an experience you’ll never forget.  Getting there is easy with it’s location about 2.5 hours from either Seattle or Spokane airports and plenty of parking is available if you aren’t staying within walking distance.

The Columbia River Gorge is rich in history and culture including the 1806 arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition on their way to the Pacific Ocean.  Over the years, this famous waterway has seen the installation of several locks and dams which are engineering marvels of their own, the establishment of successful vineyards and wineries producing world-class wines, beautiful venues for the Arts and an ever widening array of over- night accommodations for visitors.

 TMI Tours of Coeur d’Alene can put together a fantastic girls get-away, romantic weekend for two or exciting corporate event combining luxurious accommodations at Cave B Inn, wine tastings, concerts, airline tickets and rental cars.  Call Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand for details, availability and rates.  1-800-975-7775 or [email protected]

Columbia River Wine and Culinary Yacht Cruises


TMI Tours invites you to enjoy  exclusive 7 night cruises on the might Columbia River this fall aboard the 12-passenger yacht,  Safari Spirit.  Explore the extraordinary wine regions of the Columbia River Gorge with guest Sommeliers, Vintners, Chefs and culinary arts specialists.  

4[1]The  Columbia River Gorge is home to some of the finest wineries in the United States.  Washington wineries are welcoming travellers from around the world to their intimate and diverse tasting rooms.  The Columbia Gorge region offers visitors a wide-range of vineyards and wineries to visit as well as a myriad of outdoor activities with801884169_gDVQS-M[1] outstanding scenery and true Pacific Northwest hospitality.   Guest aboard the intimate yacht, Safari Spirit,  will enjoy an ambiance of refinement, luxury and relaxation  while  cruising between the river ports of Portland, Oregon and Lewiston, Idaho. 

801966023_gKWX8-M[1]Adventure  is just around each corner and guest will enjoy such activities as a thrilling jet-boat ride into the Snake River’s famous Hells Canyon, a personal tour of the impressive Bonneville Dam and a visit to the enchanting Maryhill Museum and Winery.   Sample hand-crafted, award-winning wines at 5 private, family-owned wineries with private tours and tastings.  On-board you will enjoy locally purchased produce and seafoods of the Pacific Northwest, prepared by expert Chefs and guest culinary hosts.

Indulge your passion for highly-rated wines and hand-crafted meals amidst one of the United States most scenic backdrops–the Columbia River Gorge.  Contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours & Cruises for details and availability aboard the exquisite yacht, the  Safari Spirit.   Departure dates for 2010: Oct 15, 22, 29 and Nov 05.  TMI Tours 1-800-975-7775 or info

Epicurean Yacht and Adventure Cruise of Croatia's Dalmation Coast

row dalmatian coast

The Adriatic coast of Croatia, known as Dalmatia, is a colorful blend of old Europe, abruptly rising coastal mountains and golden strands of beach.   With numerous islands androw adriatic beach extensive coastline,  exploration by yacht affords the most exotic and intimite method available.  The warm Adriatic Sea sparkles with rare clarity, one of the bluest seas in the world,  and is so inviting for sailing and swimming.

Join long-time Coeur d’Alene locals, Peter and Betsy Grubb, for their 15th season chartering yacht trips in Croatia.  Sailing aboard a 105′ traditional Croatian-made motor/sail vessel, let them show you this coast as they have come to know and love it.  Using local guides and crew, this trip will immerse you in the local culture and history as none other can.  Focusing on the variety of food and wine in Croatia, the goal of this adventure is to mix walking, sailing, history and authentic Croatian food and wine in equal doses.

row yachtAccomodations onboard will be in comfortable double-bedded cabins, each with it’s own private bath.   The atmosphere aboard will be casual and the yachts are spacious and elegant with large amounts of deck space and beautifully fitted.  Delicious, traditional meals from the finest ingredients are served including an array of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and freshly caught seafood.  Croatia has a long tradition of making quality wines and during the course of this trip, there will be plenty of opportunity to taste many of these as we visit several wineries and vineyards.

TMI Tours & Cruises of Coeur d’Alene would like to invite you to join Peter & Betsy Grubb, September 15-26, 2010 for a yachting, walking, historical and cultural cruise along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast .  For full itinerary details including other sailing dates,  please contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours & Cruises, 1-800-975-7775 or [email protected]

Columbia River Gorge Winetasting Tours

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

Washington wineries are welcoming travellers from around the world to their intimate and diverse tasting rooms.  The Columbia Gorge region offers visitors a wide-range of vineyards and wineries to visit as well as a myriad of outdoor activities with outstanding scenery and true Pacific Northwest hospitality.

bonnevilleEnjoy a romantic stay at the  Bonneville Hot Springs Resort located just 35 miles from the Portland, Oregon airport.  Portland is a bustling city on the west coast, easily accessible from anywhere in the world.  The Bonneville Hot Springs Resort and Spa offers guests lush accomodations with private patios or balconies, nestled among the towering waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.   Private hot tubs invite you to relax in their natural mineral spring water, perfect after a day of wine tasting or sightseeing. 

Private, custom wine tours are easily arranged with transportation right from your hotel.  These 4 hour tours will entice you with a gourmet picnic lunch, visits to at least 4 wineries on either the Hood River wineValley route or the Eastern Washington Gorge route,  exclusive cellar tours and vineyard tours as well as knowledgeable drivers and guides.  You can choose from such wineries as Pheasant Valley Vineyards, Cathedral Ridge, Mt Hood Vineyards,  Maryhill Winery, Cascade Cliffs and Wind River Cellars.

Contact Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand at TMI Tours for a complete listing of exclusive resorts around the Columbia River Gorge, available wine tours as well as wineries and sighteeing options.  We are the experts for travel to the Pacific Northwest.  1-800-975-7775 or [email protected]

A Columbia River Cruise for the Fall


TMI Tours & Cruises is excited about several of the fall Columbia River cruise itineraries being offered in 2009. One of these great upcoming cruises is an exclusive wine and culinary adventure that offers you the opportunity to sample award-winning wines and cruise through history on the Columbia River, witnessing the natural beauty and tastes of the Pacific Northwest.

9 Night / 10 Day Itinerary – Lewiston, Idaho to Astoria, Oregon
October 16-25, 2009

Here are a few of the many exciting adventures that await you on this exciting cruise:

• Hells Canyon by Jet Boat. After breakfast this morning we’ll transfer to a jet boat for an invigorating ride into Hells Canyon. Vertical cliffs carved by the river now hem in the rushing waters that we travel upon, and we’ll watch some of the most dramatic scenery unfold as we jet upriver. We’ll watch for big horn sheep and hawks throughout the day. After our excursion we’ll cruise the Snake River, passing through our first lock and dam called Lower Granite. After dinner our Expedition Leader will provide a brief orientation to the journey.
• The Washington Wine Country. Travel by executive coach to Walla Walla. Tour an unusual winery located in an historic 1915 Frenchtown schoolhouse. Join your wine “scholar” on a private tour and tasting of prized reserve wines such as an Estate Syrah. A short distance away is another unique destination winery known for their ultra-premium Merlot wines. Upon returning to the yacht, relax on deck as we cruise along the rolling Columbia River. Enjoy the hot tub, read a book, or join the Captain on the bridge to watch the sunset as we cruise into the Snake River portion of our adventure.
• Exploring the Maryhill Museum and Maryhill Winery. Relax and enjoy a stretch of wilderness along the river which is home to northern harriers, cliff swallows, osprey, mule deer and coyotes. After transiting The Dalles Lock and Dam, we’ll anchor and visit Maryhill Museum followed by a visit to the Maryhill Winery. The museum’s collections are housed in a castle-like chateau situated on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. The museum offers an eclectic collection of Native arts, European paintings and the Queen of Romania’s personal effects. Our winery visit will include a tasting from a special tasting list. Back onboard, we’ll make our way through the John Day Lock and Dam. Continue reading

A Unique Bed & Breakfast Experience

Nestled into the rolling hills of agricultural northern Idaho is a Bed and Breakfast so unique, you’ll think you’ve slipped back into another era. Step back into rural America without phones or electricity—just the simple peace of the surrounding hills and the clean smell of fresh produce still on the vine. Mary Jane’s Farm offers wall-tents enclosing a full size bed covered with soft quilts, a woodstove, lanterns for light, each with its own farm style décor and of course, a full farm-fresh breakfast each morning. Each tent has its own outdoor kitchen providing a hot plate, campfire pit, and kitchen sink for cooking your own lunches and dinner. You may bring food with you, or pick fresh from the organic gardens all around you as well as purchase any of the organic meals offered on the farm.

During the day, learn about organic farming, pick fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs or gather farm-fresh eggs. Lend a hand with the many changing activities of the farm or just relax in a hammock, enjoying the cool, fresh gardens. Be sure to visit the historic flour mill where wheat is still ground to flour the old fashioned way. If you like to explore–hike, walk, or bike the miles of back roads and trails surrounding the farm or take a short drive into town to visit the quaint shops. Learn more about this unique and relaxing experience by contacting Linda Bruno or Rhonda Sand via email at [email protected] or telephone at 1-800-975-7775.

Cruise the Columbia and Snake Rivers, Summer 2009


Summer is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest and Cruise West’s remarkable ship, the “Spirit of ’98”, is making her weekly voyages on the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Having driven the highways along the Columbia River Gorge, I can attest to the dramatic, awe-inspiring scenery that opens in front of you. But to really get a feel for the pulse of life along this waterway and to experience the immensity of the Columbia River Gorge, there is nothing like seeing it from the surface of the river it’s self.

With it’s old fashioned smokestacks and victorian-style decor, the Spirit of ’98 resembles the steamships that once plied the rivers of North America. Adorned with ornate, carved wooden cabinety, floral upholstery, a Grand Salon and a full bar exuding Old-World charm, you will feel you are being transported aboard an early 20th century steamer. But this small ship offers all modern amenities and convienences including private bath in all cabins and email, internet and phone service on-board.

The weekly departures sail out of Portland, Oregon on the Willamette River which runs right through this west coast city. The following morning will find the ship entering the locks of the Bonneville Dam, a 1938 historic landmark with a fascinating visitors center.

This cruise will visit some unique and historic sights as well as transit 7 dams on its journey inland from the Pacific Ocean to the confluence of the Snake River.

  • Pendleton, Oregon: Visit the underground tunnels dug by Chinese immigrants in the late 1800’s connecting their saloons, bordellos and opium dens.  Visit the Pendleton Woolen Mills where native blankets are still woven.  The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute houses the 10,000 year history of the Umtilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla native tribes.
  • Hells Canyon: Enjoy a jet boat ride up the wild and scenic Snake River,  deep into the canyon filled with wildlife and ancient indian  petroglyphs.jet-boat-snake
  • Walla Walla, Washington: Enjoy a day filled with great food, art, shopping and wine-tasting at two  very unique Washington wineries.
  • Mt. St. Helens: Journey to the site of the 1980 volcanic eruption that levelled 230 square miles of forest.  View the crater left after the moutain blew 1,300 feet from its top and see how the area’s still trying to renew itself.

columbia-gorgeThe Columbia River scenery is dramatic and diverse with lush evergreen forests, cascading waterfalls, orchards, vineyards and stark basalt cliffs. Only Cruise West can get you so close, you’ll feel the spray of the falls on your face. Call Rhonda or Linda at TMI Tours to check available cabins and dates for a great adventure on the Mighty Columbia River. 1-800-975-7775 or [email protected]

Spring & Coeur d’Alene Lake – Time for Salmon and Pike Fishing

Spring and early summer fishing on Coeur d’Alene Lake is a fantastic way to relax and enjoy the beauty of North Idaho. Combine the excellent scenery of the surrounding area around our magnificent lake with the ability to catch large fish and you’re in for a great experience!

11 lb. Chinook Salmon Caught in April 2009

11 lb. Chinook Salmon Caught in April 2009

Coeur d’Alene Lake is one of the few places in the United States that has a sustainable land-locked Chinook Salmon fishery. In 1982, Chinook Salmon were stocked in the lake and now the fishery has grown to be one of the most popular in the Northwest. The catch rate in the spring and early summer are good with the average Chinook weighing in at 3 to 8 pounds. However, it is not uncommon to catch 10 and 11 pound fish as well.

If you have never fished for Northern Pike, then you are in for a treat. These aggressive fish are the apex warm water predator in Coeur d’Alene Lake. Continue reading