Note from the Publisher
Scott Graber Publisher _________________________ _________________________
My Favorite Videos
A touch of morning fog encroached on this brown bear as she stood on the rock just above the water. She watched the salmon swimming a yard or so out in the water and waited till she saw her best opportunity. Then she jumped in and came up empty handed.
Photo: Rusty Clarke
TRAVEL GUIDE covers the entire length of the Alaska Highway, from "Mile 0" in Dawson Creek, BC through the Yukon to Whitehorse and on into Alaska's Interior and the Far North. An invaluable resource for traveling the North, Travel Guide provides engaging travel information on major urban centers, unique out-of-the-way places, National Parks and the paradise of fjords and glaciers of Southeast Alaska's Inside Passage, with special fishing and wildlife viewing adventure editorial about Valdez, Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak Island and Katmai.
Stretching from Prudhoe Bay on the Beaufort Sea and Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Chain of Alaska to the Ice Roads of the Northwest Territories, through Western Canada to Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in Montana and the beautiful Oregon and Washington coasts, Travel Guide is an excellent, exciting vacation planning guide that is the only one of its kind with such extensive coverage in one publication.
The youngest of Stan Stephens' three busy daughters, Colleen Stephens has divided her entire life between the towns of North Pole and Valdez, excluding her time at the University of Idaho. To this day she claims her family migrated in a reverse pattern: north in the winter and south in the summer! While the family still maintains their property in North Pole, Valdez has been Colleen’s full time home since graduating from college in 1996, and she says she can’t imagine being anywhere else, even when it’s snowing three feet a day.
Colleen’s parents Stan and Mary Helen were married in 1964, the year of the devastating Good Friday Earthquake. As North Star Marine Charters, they started offering Prince William Sound sport fishing and hunting tours in 1971. The entire family joined the business in 1978, as Stan, Mary Helen and their daughters began operating their first tours to Columbia Glacier. At that time the company name was changed to Stan Stephens Charters, and then to Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruises in 2003. When Colleen was 7 years old, she was designated head of the hot chocolate and story telling departments. Now she is in charge of operations, making sure everything is in just the right place at the right time.
Colleen’s official title is President of Stan Stephens Cruises, but that just means on any given day she could help a guest make a reservation, clean a boat, drive a bus, assist in an oil change or place an advertisement. The two greatest loves of her job are working with the youth of Valdez and watching them grow, and greeting the returning boats to watch the passengers and crew debate who had a better day on the water. Like extended family, the company’s approximately 30 employees often start in their mid-teens as boat cleaners and work their way up through office and crew staff. Because nearly all of them are from Valdez, their guests’ enjoyment of the area is truly enhanced by the vast local knowledge of their tour guides.
On Good Friday in 1989, life for the residents of Prince William Sound changed dramatically when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef. Stan’s vessels were some of the first to carry response observers to the site. It was during the early days of the spill that Stan dedicated the remainder of his life to working with industry to protect Prince William Sound. Sadly, Stan passed away in the fall of 2013, but his family and crew strive enthusiastically to live by his example – and Mary Helen, his wife of nearly 50 years, is busy as ever training employees, cooking up the daily chowder and infecting everyone with her boundless energy!
In addition to her roles at Stan Stephens Cruises, Colleen is engaged with two future stepchildren, and involved in the board of directors and management of the Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau and Alaska Travel Industry Association, working to properly market and develop tourism in Alaska. She also serves on the City of Valdez Ports and Harbors Commission to help keep the City’s economic health strong.