“I thought Sasquatch was a creature primarily of the Pacific Northwest,” said Will Clinger, the Chicago-based host of the PBS series, “Wild Travels.” “But in a segment we shot for (the PBS series), we were surprised to hear from members of the Sasquatch Outpost in Bailey, Colorado, that there have been hundreds of Yeti sightings in that neck of the woods — even more surprising when you consider that on our 2-1/2-hour drive to Bailey, we didn't even see a squirrel.”
Q: If you had to cancel travel plans due to the pandemic, where were they to?
A: We've had to cancel eight trips for “Wild Travels” due to COVID-19. The ones I really hated to lose were to San Francisco for St. Stupid's Day and to Beaver, Oklahoma, for the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship. I guess there's always next year.
Q: COVID has made everyone think differently about how we travel. Have you been taking any trips not related to work?
A: My fiancee, Lauralynn, and I got stir-crazy last March and took a not-so-short road trip through the Southwest. We managed to avoid hotels completely by staying in things like a tiny house, an Airstream, a tepee and, yes, even a yurt. Locally, we've fully utilized the Chicago park system on foot and by bike.
Q: What is the most touristy spot you've visited?
A: We were in Tombstone, Arizona, not long ago for a segment on the historic Birdcage Theater. While that building was suitably authentic — down to the 40-plus bullet holes in the walls and ceiling — the rest of the town is pretty much re-created. Even Tombstone's tombstones are not all originals. So, the catering to tourists is a little relentless — though a simulated gunfight in the street is never unwelcome.
Q: What was the first trip you took as a child?
A: The first one I remember was a road trip from Warren, Pennsylvania, to Miami Beach, Florida. I vaguely recall my mother doing perfect dives from a very high diving board and taking on a beached jellyfish with a stick.
Q: What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A: The travels I've taken with the show have been a lesson on the fortitude, creativity and downright friendliness of my fellow Americans. Sure, there's a lot of rancor and divisiveness in our country, but that seems to fall by the wayside when people are sharing stuff they love to do, like racing pumpkins, spotting UFOs or raising fainting goats.
Q: Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A: I spent a couple of summers with the Peninsula Players Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin, back in the '90s, and ever since I've tried to get back there for a long weekend at least once a year. Southern Illinois is pretty great for a weekend excursion. Giant City State Park is chock full of good hikes. A little closer to home, Lake Geneva and the Indiana Dunes are high on my list.
Q: If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A: In the early days, to grandmother's house we went, which was in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Second best? That would be Christmas in Williamsburg, Virginia, where they really gussy the place up for the holidays and add a lot of Christmas-related events to the historical experience.
Q: Do you speak any foreign languages?
A: I took six years of French in middle school and high school to no avail. I might be able to barely read it on the page, but once actual French people start speaking it, I'm clueless.
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: Chicago, London, Venice, New York and Lisbon.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)