Two young women, only a few years out of college, walked into a bar in Homer, Alaska in 1999, turned to the grizzled mountain men at the bar and said, “We’re changing the channel on the TV so we can watch Barbara Walters interview Monica Lewinski, Ok?” Hutzpah! One of those women was my daughter. The other was her good friend, Deborah Miller who had invited her to Alaska in March to see the start of the Iditarod. They both love travel, but years later, after adventures on and off the beaten path, Deb turned her love into her career when she started Edge of Wonder Travels Unlimited, a sophisticated, full-service travel advisory.
When my wife, Janet, and I decided to take a cruise to Alaska, we were ready to call Regent and do it ourselves. After all, we have been to 40 countries and only once, in Dar es Salaam when booking a safari, did we use a travel agent. We know the ropes and have enjoyed the research and planning that goes into a travel. But, we had never been to Alaska, had only been on one Regent cruise before, and were running out of time due to my Mom’s recent death. We had kept up with Deb on Facebook over the years and had been enjoying her photography and writing. We had followed her adventures as she kayaked and camped the ice-choked bays of Greenland, sailed the island-studded waters of Thailand, wandered the length and breadth of Iceland and done too many other extraordinary things to mention. Deb’s company, Edge of Wonder Travels Unlimited, is an associate of networks which rank them at the top. When Deb called to offer her condolences regarding Mom, I mentioned our intent to book a quick cruise, and she offered her help.
Not only did Deb handle all the normal tedium of booking travel, she managed to get us a free room upgrade. It was a revelation. Deb saved us hours on the phone or hunched over a computer and she stretched our travel dollars. She asked good questions, and listened to our interests so well that she planned the exact trip we would have planned had we the time, only she did it better.
We were impressed. When some friends invited us to join them on an eleven day Adriatic cruise from Venice to Istanbul in the summer, we called Deb. With one phone call we were booked on the luxury ship Azamara Journey where Deb is working her wonders again. We’ll probably go a week early to toss a few more coins into Trevi fountain, pause to feed a few birds with Saint Francis in Assisi, and visit Florence on our way to Venice. We’ll depend on Deb for her advice and her ability to smooth the path. Should we rent a car or get a Eurail pass? Deb will give us the straight scoop, save us hours of research and probably get us some discounts.
And some year soon, before it’s turned into a parking lot, we’d like to visit the Amazon, deep in the jungle and off the beaten path. You know who we’ll call, because after decades of DYI travel, Deb Miller has made us travel advisor converts. And if we are there when Barbara Walters makes her rumored final interview — with Monica Lewinski no less — if there is a TV in some thatched hut on stilts above the flood, I’m confident Deb will arrange for us to be guests.