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Snyder: Notes from the road: Travelogue showcases "Wonders of the World"

Snyder: Notes from the road: Travelogue showcases "Wonders of the World"


The Kenosha Public Museum’s 82nd travelogue film series, the longest running travelogue program in the country, has two films left in this season.

This season’s slate of films has already taken local “armchair travelers” on the Lewis & Clark Trail, to Hawaii and the South Pacific, and across India.

A key component of the six-film series is the live narration by the filmmakers.

That commentary should be interesting Thursday night at the Kenosha Public Museum. I’m envisioning filmmaker Marlin Darrah talking like an auctioneer for his “Wonders of the World” film. Darrah has to cover 43 countries in 86 breathless minutes.

Unlike most travelogues, which focus on a particular location, this film takes viewers to dozens of world-famous sites, as well as some of what Darrah calls “lesser-known marvels of our incredible planet.”

Darrah calls this film “a journey filled with the world’s incredible people, wildlife, exotic jungles, mountains, paradise beaches, miraculous architecture and temples, astounding art treasures, old cities, towns and villages and even some samples of delicious international food along the way.” Whew! I’m winded just reading all of that.

Darrah, executive director and cinematographer of International Film & Video in Portland, Ore., has been traveling the world for more than 30 years, stopping in 140-plus countries and producing more than 70 travel films.

His work has been seen on PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel and all the major networks — plus his regular stops in Kenosha, where Brenda Roth, who heads up the museum’s Travel Adventure Series, says he is a fan favorite “with his films being shot in ultra high-definition at unusual or difficult-to-get-to locations.”

From the miracle of flight to road hogs

Filmmaker Darrah no doubt has stories galore to share and, while I am not nearly as well traveled as he is — and I definitely do not earn money this way — I have learned some traveling tips of mine that may, I hope, inspire your own adventures:

Up and away: Flying in an airplane is still a miracle to me, but if you’ve lost that feeling of wonderment, sit next to young children, as I did on a recent flight. The two brothers from Missouri, ages 4 and 7, marveled at everything from flying above the clouds to being able to choose 7-Up off the in-flight menu. (And if you are traveling with young kids, I suggest bringing along some flashcards. I had a few packs with me, and they now know that the official state flower of Utah is the sego lily. Great knowledge like that may come in handy some day on “Jeopardy.”)

Sign me up: My favorite way to pick a motel is by its sign, and the best ones have retro neon signage out front. On a related note: Nothing against the Holiday Inns of the world, but staying in a family-owned motel adds a bit of mystery to traveling and leads to interesting stops, like the motel where the office was also an on-site ice cream shop. (Of course, the surprise can also be a bad one, which we’ve encountered.)

Bark if you love traveling: On a recent trip, we found that Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alberta, Canada, are all super dog friendly. We saw canines everywhere on our travels, often riding along in RVs. (Sorry, felines.)

Maybe we need to allow more time to get to San Jose: I love maps — which show us so many possibilities — but reading lines on a map doesn’t always translate to easy traveling in the real world. It may be just 20 miles from one place to another, but if that’s a twisty gravel road currently under construction, you’ll need to allow extra time (and plan for some aggravation).

Going digital: We snap so many silly photos now, they’re thinking of bringing back film cameras. (I kid, but remember when you had to think twice before snapping away at everything, because you were wasting film? Maybe that was just a great method of photo editing.)

Soundtrack: It’s an international law — we tested it in Canada — that if you’re in a business playing 1970s tunes like “You Are the Woman That I’ve Always Dream of,” you’ll eventually hear “The Gambler” and “Wildfire,” too.

Picture this: A woman from a town just outside of London was on our boat tour last September in Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and, when asked by an area resident how she picked that place to visit, out of all the places in the world, answered, “I saw a photo of the Prince of Wales Hotel (the landmark that looms over the park) and said, ‘Someday, I’m going to go there.’ That’s how I travel.” That seems like a wonderful way to select future destinations, though I notice my husband, Rex, has now tossed out all images of Hawaii from our home.

Stamp collectors: Still need a push to get going? Take up stamp collecting! Our hobby of collecting stamps in our national park passport books — which also include national monuments and national historic sites like Mount Rushmore — takes us to places all over the U.S. Many of these places are destinations we never would have visited otherwise, like Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, which is so remote, it may as well really be on the moon. (On the upside, now we’ve visited the place where NASA faked the moon landings, I’m kidding again, but astronauts really did train there in the 1960s and are back now for Mars simulations.)

Same-same: Traveling throughout our country shows you how alike we are — every town has at least one Starbucks and a Wal-Mart — but you also learn useful knowledge, like I never have to go to Ontario, Ore., ever again. (Trust me.)

Lucking out: Proving that you don’t always have to book a room in a national park at least a year in advance, we booked a cabin last fall at Crater Lake in the Mazama Campground on Sept. 6 for a Sept. 7 stay. There are always cancellations, so it pays to check at the last minute.

Calling all seniors: If you’re age 62 or older, get your “Senior Pass” to national parks now. My husband has one, and it gets both of us (it’s good for up to four adults traveling together) into all national parks, national monuments, historic parks, etc., for free. It also works in U.S. Forest Service areas. The pass costs $80 and is good for the rest of your life. Find out more at

Road hogs: The RV industry appears to be alive and well, judging by the massive vehicles we’ve encountered on our highways and biways. You haven’t lived until you’ve been stuck behind a bus-sized recreational vehicle hauling a Jeep on a mountain road. So fun.

Feeling blue? Get outside and take a walk and just appreciate the beauty of our planet. Then resolve to help protect and cherish the earth.

I’ve always believed travel — whether it’s a day trip to Madison or a trek across Nepal — is nourishing for the soul. And, on a more practical note, it’s also a great way to discover a hidden mountain lake, enjoy street tacos from a food truck with a questionable reputation or reconnect with your spouse while arguing over whose fault it is that he missed the exit to Niagara Falls.

Whatever moves you to go ... get out there.


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