Music segments included in the Podcast: An Early Thursday Morning, The Ride, and Making Good Time used with permission of the artist, John Arthur Martinez.
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Underwriting support provided by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
360 Magazine Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from Door County Wisconsin.
If you’re not familiar with Wisconsin, look at a map of the state and you’ll notice a jutting peninsula (locals fondly refer to the peninsula as Wisconsin’s thumb) on the eastern flank. That’s Door County; cradled on the western flank is Sturgeon Bay and legendary Green Bay.
Summertime is crazy-busy tourist time with vacationers from around the midwest who have a multi-generational fondness for the rural county.
It’s a rural paradise where cherry orchards remain king, but today family-owned wineries have also become part of the landscape, alongside the ever popular roadside farm stands.
Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market in Fish Creek, Wisconsin–symbolizes Door County’s multi-generational family owned businesses. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Summertime rocks with legendary lakeside fish boils and beachside barbecues with live music.
Legendary Fish Boil at Rowleys Bay Resort & Restaurant Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Photo Credit Tom Wilmer
Innkeeper at Rowleys Bay Resort Ellison Bay, Wisconsin shows off the end result of the fish boil. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Sundowner barbecue and live music on the bay at Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Around back–at Al Johnsons Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Actually they are legend for their goats who mow the restaurant’s sod-roof during the summer months–oh and they serve great food too! Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
If you’re based in a southern state or on the West Coast you might presume that come wintertime the locals in the Northern Tier states hunker down by the fireplace until the spring thaw.
Outdoor adventuring on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the heart of Door County. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Come up for a visit in the midst of winter and you will see the locals just as busy playing and adventuring in the outdoors as they do in July or August.
Great fun to ride a vehicle across the bay to go ice fishing. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Cross Country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, ice skating–and ice fishing are super popular winter activities.
The northern end of the Door County Peninsula exhibits a distinctive, intoxicating beauty. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
A cool mid-winter adventure takes place at the northern end of the Door Peninsula–that’s where you board the ice-breaker ferry for a ride across the straits—dubbed long ago by pioneer adventurers Deaths’ Door.
The roots of the name stem from the potentially brutal and sometimes deadly experience when early settles traveled by boat between the peninsula and ports around Lake Michigan.
Washington Island Ferry. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Today the Washington Island Ferry transports locals and visitors every day of the year–shuttling passengers between the peninsula and nearby Washington Island.
The Washington Island Ferries are equipped with hardened ice-breaking bows that carve their way across the straits skirting the fringe of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
Crossing the straits of Death’s Door on the fringe of Lake Michigan en route to Washington Island. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Settled long ago by Norwegian and Icelandic pioneers, Washington Island remains populated by descendants of the first homesteaders (the island today claims a large population of Icelandic descendants)–of course along with a new generation of hardy souls, many attracted specifically because of its remoteness and unspoiled natural beauty.
Washington Island’s revered Norwegian Stavkirke (church of Staves) is based on drawings of a church in Borglund, Norway constructed in 1150 AD. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
A saving grace for the island’s pristine environment is that it has experienced minimal development and claims around 700 full-time residents, swelling to more than 1,500 during the summertime.
One of the big draws is a visit to one of the island lavender farms, and lunch at one of the local diners.
In addition to the natural beauty of Washington Island, and Door County, a precious attraction is the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the locals.
Innkeeper at White Gull Inn shows off his classy ride. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
A stop at a coffee shop is an integral part of life year round on the Door Peninsula. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Fun with the locals at Rowleys Resort Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Jon Jarosh with the Door County Visitor Bureau. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Gabriella Gearghardt at Madison, Wisconsin’s Children’s Museum. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Join Gabriella Gerhardt, Development Officer at the Madison Children’s Museum in Wisconsin. It’s a hands-on engaging place where free-play is the operative. Discover why NPR ranked one of the exhibits among the top ten in America, and learn about the live chickens, the human hamster cage, the engaging Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, and more—just for kids.
Madison, Wisconsin’s captivating Museum of Contemporary Art is another must-do. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The outside of the Museum of Modern Art in downtown Madison, Wisconsin beckons one to check out what’s on the inside. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Celebrating 117 years, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is the longest serving cultural organization in the city. Join Erika Monroe-Kane Director of Communications for an insider’s look at the ways the free-access museum brings art to the people and people to the art in Madison, Wisconsin. MMOCA attracts visitors through engaging cutting-edge art that serves as powerful visual metaphors for social issues, and injustices.
Sunset party at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Wisconsin’s State Capital is stunning night or day. iPhone 6s photo credit: Tom Wilmer
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
“Pure Land” is about this tragedy. But it is also the story of how McGivney’s quest to understand Hanamure’s life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis.
On this journey—stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior—”Pure Land” offers proof of the healing powers of nature and the resiliency of the human spirit.
McGivney is Southwest Editor for Backpacker Magazine and professor of journalism at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer.Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer.
360 Magazine’s Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from the Hilton Waikoloa Village
More often than not, the coolest stories about upscale hotels and resorts are often untold. While resorts are quick to tout their alluring amenities such as a new spa, or rebranded restaurant, they too often take for granted the unsung, behind the scenes transformative environmental initiatives implemented by management teams.
A classic example is the litany of game changing environmental initiatives spurred by 42 year-old Simon Amos, Hotel Manager at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Amos noted that more than 800,000 plastic straws were eliminated from the waste stream by switching to a compostable alternative.
Simon Amos’s white board hit list of sustainability initiatives for 2018 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village
Another industry game changer was when Amos and his associates decided to install water bottle refilling stations around the Hilton property–mitigating the wasteful use of individual, disposable water bottles—eliminating as many as 250,000 plastic bottles from the waste stream annually.
Complimentary refillable water containers save hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles from the waste stream
Equally engaging but again not the stuff that a marketing firm would likely select for a glossy advert in a travel magazine is the incredible life journey of a hotel manager such as Simon Amos.
The hospitality industry started coursing through Amos’s veins as a 13 year-old in England when he was washing dishes and bussing tables.
Earning a National Diploma in Hotel and Catering from Hasting College of Arts and Technology, Amos’s early career path included the honor of serving Queen Elizabeth, a stint as assistant food and beverage manager at the iconic Hilton Park Lane, and working at the Cumberland, and Cadogan hotels in London.
He also worked a as headwaiter aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, training in food and beverage at the Ritz in London, and working at the fabled Lancaster in Paris. His term at Hilton’s flagship property the Park Lane in London led Amos to accept a position with Hilton Hotels & Resorts in China where he served for five years. He started in food & beverage before accepting the role as Hilton Beijing’s Operations Manager.
During Simon Amos’s tenure at the Hilton Beijing was creating a special off-site catered dinner for 1,000 guests at the Great Wall of China
A Hilton Beijing Pole Competition instituted by Simon Amos was so successful that it went for five seasons
Simon Amos instituted a super popular Black Tie Charity Brawl during his tenure at the Hilton Beijing featuring eight U.S. fighters matched against eight Chinese
Amos departed China five years ago to work at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii, commencing with a position in food & beverage before assuming the duties as Hotel Manager.
Cherished time off for Simon Amos at the Hilton Waikoloa Village includes deep sea fishing expeditions along the Kona Coast
Amos retains a lifelong passion to source and showcase local culinary offerings, along with a never-ending quest to implement environmental solutions and initiatives at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, even though it’s not the stuff that typically makes the cover of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine or Condé Nast Traveler.
Culture Editor Tom Wilmer visits with Will King, Bicycle Design Engineer at SRAM’s San Luis Obispo, California R&D high-tech bicycle component facility (RockShox, Trucativ, Zipp, Quarq, etc.). King talks with Tom about SRAM’s involvement with World Bicycle Relief an international nonprofit organization that mobilizes people and transforms lives through The Power of Bicycles.
Fundraisers and individual donations provide specially designed, locally assembled bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs in rural Africa, connecting them with education, healthcare and economic opportunities.
The Buffalo Bikes are a literal life-transforming gift for people in remote African villages and communities. Young girls are primary recipient of the bike, as the transport offers them a safer mode of travel between school and home, and dramatically reduces travel time as schools are often situated far from the village.
Another primary recipient of the Buffalo Bikes are health care workers. One woman that King visited with told him that she travels more than 60 miles per day delivering health care to recipients in remote villages. Dairy farmers are able to increase their deliveries by more than 25 percent, and overall student attendance increases up to 28 percent.
World Bicycle Relief provided some touching life transforming examples: Community Health Worker Ramadhan Bakari cares for 522 people across 105 households in Kakamega County, Western Kenya. But when walking up to 8 km to see each patient, he could visit only a few homes per day.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) are crucial healthcare providers in rural Africa. CHWs visit patients at home, transport patients to medical facilities, and provide preventative education and care.
Their work is especially vital for children born in sub-Saharan Africa, who are 12 times more likely than their counterparts in high-income countries to die before their 5th birthday. The region has 11% of the world’s population but carries 24% of the global disease burden. It lacks the infrastructure to provide even basic healthcare to many of its people.
To fulfill their responsibilities, CHWs often walk long distances over rough terrain and in inclement weather. As a result, fewer people get the care they need.
But with a bicycle, healthcare workers can reach 45% more patients and travel four times farther than on foot, research shows.
At the Malaha Dispensary, Clinic Manager Dr. Bernard Ochanda says 60 bicycles are as valuable as one car. Bicycles can cover more territory and serve more people.
Many times, “the bicycle is used in getting the mothers into the clinic for delivery,” says Ochanda. “Compared to home deliveries, delivery at the clinic is far more safe. Traveling by bicycle is far less expensive than hiring a vehicle.”
World Bicycle Relief believes that all individuals should have access to proper healthcare.
The net cost of a Buffalo Bike is around $150, underwritten through donations. To ensure that the bikes remain in operable condition, local villagers are trained as mechanics, and often suggest design improvements to minimize breakdowns.
To learn more and to donate visit: www.worldbicyclerelief.org
Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from the Big Island of Hawaii where he discovers a romantic dining destination at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast.
Manta is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s fine dining restaurant overlooking Kauna’oa Bay
Everyone I’ve ever met who’s stayed at the legendary Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii —invariably speaks in reverential tones about the place, and they’re quick to voice a desire for a reprise visit. And those who’ve never had the pleasure of making a date with the Mauna Kea, often mention the resort as tops on their must-do list—typically inspired by the raves of their friends who who’ve been there, done that.
Kauna’oa Bay at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a special destination-resort that touts an astounding multi-generational fan base. There are many who’s grandparents stayed there in the 1960s, and their parents first took them there as kids, and now they are making pilgrimage-holidays with their kids at the Mauna Kea.
Tranquility envelops the spirit upon entering the Mauna Kea’s guest check-in reception area Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The centerpiece of the resort’s setting is the seductive beauty of crescent-shaped Kauna’oa Bay–and the fine-dining establishment, Manta, overlooking the bay with ultra-romantic al fresco dining.
Brunch at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Manta restaurant out on the Pavilion. zachstovall.com
Whether or not you’re staying at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Manta is a killer place for a bayside buffet breakfast, Sunday brunch, and of course a romantic dinner date—ideally out on the pavilian overlooking the bay, framed by palms and plumeria.
That’s the big story—the nuances that make Manta a must-do are predicated on the chefs’ culinary philosophies that honor and meld the multi-ethnic roots of the islanders, along with paying homage to the Hawaiian’s Polynesian roots through utilization of “canoe crops”.
Manta is Mauna Kea Bech Hotel’s fine dining with sunset a most romantic time
Sourcing local/fresh from the farmer and sea are anchors of the culinary arts at Manta.
Manta sources everything imaginable from Big Island farmers, and the restaurant even put on special dinners—shades of a wine maker dinner–where a farmer or two will join the festivities and talk-story about their passion for producing fresh, local, healthy food with Manta’s dinner guests.
Seafood doesn’t get any fresher, as the local fishermen’s catch is delivered daily to the kitchen’s back door.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel’s Rio Miceli, Executive Sous Chef. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Executive Sous Chef, Rio Miceli was raised on the island but honed his craft in Healdsburg, California, and subsequently fine tuned his skills at the New England Culinary School before returning to settle in on the Big Island.
Miceli’s duties include menu development, and innovations at Manta as well as the resort’s other dining venues.
A taste of Manta’s culinary offerings include a killer Kona Kampachi Sashimi and the Keohole Lobster Papperdelle with garlic cream, summer squash and pork belly lardon for starters.
Tempting entrees include Hawaiian Sweet Potato Encrusted Ahi, and the Mac Nut Encrusted Mahi Mahi.
Wendle Lesher Director of Food & Beverage at the Mauna Kea Resort and neighboring Hapuna Resort
Wendle Lesher, Director of Food & Beverage at the Mauna Kea and the neighboring sister property Hapuna Beach Resort, works with Miceli developing innovative new dishes.
Lesher also drives creativity in partnership with the mixologists, and plans special culinary events. Lesher’s latest passion is working with local beekeepers.
In addition to doing his part to provide onsite beehive habitats, the distinctive and incredibly flavorful Mauna Kea honey is utilized by the chefs and is available for purchase by the guests.
360 Culture Editor Tom Wilmer met up with Georgia Durante, the author of the best-selling book, The Company She Keeps–chronicling her amazing life journey from the most photographed woman in America to mobster’s wife to Hollywood stunt driver.
The Company She Keeps book cover
Georgia Durante grew up in Rochester, New York where her modeling career commenced when she was just 13 years old. Before long her stunning looks propelled her to cover-girl stardom as the most photographed young woman in America—and became known nationwide as “The Kodak Girl”.
Georgia Durante–once known as “the most photographed woman in America
Georgia Durante as the Kodak Summer Girl–recognized nationwide
By happenstance, she got involved with the mob. Durante says “growing up in Rochester, most all of my friends were Italian.” She says “Everyone knew guys who were involved in the mob, and it was just part of the social fabric and taken for granted. We really didn’t think much about it.
Georgia Durante at height of her modeling career
In her late teens legendary mobsters such as Carlos Gambino, and Sammy Giancana took Durante under the wing. And that’s how she came to marry a mobster, and earned a reputation as a skillful, in-demand mob getaway driver.
Georgia Durante and her mobster husband Joe
Durante’s life took an ugly turn when she realized too late her husband was a ruthless and abusive person who had no problem holding a pistol to Durante’s head to play a game of Russian roulette. She eventually escaped from her life as a mobster’s wife. But her modeling career came to a crashing halt when she realized she now had to live a life totally out of the limelight—to hide from the mob and her evil ex.
Durante found the perfect place to live under the radar—she repurposed her mob getaway driver skills by hiring on as a Hollywood stunt car driver, and quickly earned a reputation as one of Tinseltown’s most skilled and daring stunt car drivers.
Georgia Durante at work in Hollywood as a stunt driver
Today, Durante lives in LA where she dedicates her time to speaking before battered women’s groups and running her magical hideaway, Enchanted Manor—an 18,000 square-foot facility situated in the quiet Los Angeles, Valley Village neighborhood cul-de-sac, not far from North Hollywood. 360-degree View of Enchanted Manor
Georgia Durante’s Enchanted Manor in Los Angeles
The Manor is a popular destination for private parties, weddings, gatherings and meetings. It’s also a popular location site for films, music videos, and productions including Lifetime’s production “William and Kate”.
Georgia Durante with her granddaughter at Enchanted Manor
Culture Editor Tom Wilmer visits with child star in film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Back in 1946 six year-old Jimmy Hawkins played the role of Tommy in It’s a Wonderful Life. Decades later the film was voted the most inspirational movie of all time by the American Film Institute.
When It’s a Wonderful Life hit silver screen for Christmas season in 1946, it was a box-office flop and lost more than $500,000 even though it was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. At the time, producer Frank Capra did not think of his movie as a Christmas-themed story. The association gained momentum over the years.
I recently visited with Jimmy Hawkins and he recalled his role as Tommy, insights about Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and other cast members. His recollections were as vivid and fresh as if the movie was filmed a year ago, rather than 71 years ago.
Hawkins also talks about his subsequent roles as a teen heartthrob on the Donna Reed Show and other television series.
He starred in the first Elvis movie, Girl Happy, and subsequently worked as a Hollywood producer. During the course of his career, Hawkins starred in or produced more than 500 movies and television shows.
Hawkins also shares the secret of the belated success and cult-like love of It’s a Wonderful Life that didn’t take off until the 1970’s when someone forgot to renew the copyright.
Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from the Big Island of Hawaii–
The Lim family Luau has been performing at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel since Laurance Rockefeller opened the resort in the mid-1960s. Today the luau is the oldest, continuously operating show on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Lorna Lim talks story about her family’s passion (3rd generation) for performing authentic song, hula dance, and tales of old Hawaii. You don’t have to stay at the Mauna Kea to attend the luau, but the resort hotel is a highly recommended place to stay if you’re planning a visit to the Big Island.
Located on the Kohala Coast approximately 24 miles from Kailua/Kona Airport, the Mauna Kea has the insular feel of a private island oasis.
Highlights of the resort include its eye-catching mid-century architecture that has deftly not only stood the test of time, it remains a classic, and its lines are timeless. A big draw is the location, as the resort fronts on one of the Big Island’s most beautiful beaches. The beachfront is wide and sprawling but intimate at the same time.
Sundown at the Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Culinary offerings are outstanding as well. Manta is the fine dining establishment, but like everything in the islands, casual is the rule. Back in the day, ties for men were requisite for dinner…but fortunately that’s a page from the past.
Speaking of dining, the luau includes a killer buffet dinner. The sprawling array of fresh, local faire is worth the price of admission all on its own.
The offerings are equal if not better than what you’d find at a fine sit-down restaurant almost anywhere on the island.