The Legendary & Romantic Osthoff Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin


Listen to the show on the NPR.ORG Podcast site, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer:Check out this episode!

The Osthoff Resort set above the shores of Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin has been a grand destination for Midwesterners for more than a Century.
Osthoff Resort Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Osthoff Resort
Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

The legendary Osthoff first opened its doors back in 1886 and welcomed vacationing families arrived from Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and all over the Midwest. Summer vacationers arrived by train and they frequently unpacked and settled in for the entire summer season.  Today a new and equally grand Osthoff that’s set on the grounds of the original grand dame caters not only to Midwesterners but vacationers from around the world. The four diamond property features 10,000 square feet of meeting space, a spa that’s ranked 16th among the top 100 spas by Spas of America as well as one of the 35 top resorts in America by Travel and Leisure. The Osthoff also has a cooking school on premises that is a very popular draw all on its own. The enchanting tree lined village of Elkhart Lake is like stepping in to a timeless storybook scene.

Train Station Elkhart Lake  Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Train Station Elkhart Lake
Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Elkhart Lake village Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Elkhart Lake village                        Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

With less than a thousand residents and a Mayberry RFD  train depot as a centerpiece, the town is best known by some for its long history as the location of Road America races, the annual Road & Track Concours d’Elegance, and the Kohler International Challenge. I’m Tom Wilmer, come along and join me in Elkhart Lake at the legendary Osthoff for a conversation with General Manager, Lola Roeh.


“Redskins” despicable Says Ben Knighthorse Campbell

Senator Ben Knighthorse Campbell (L) with Tom Wilmer at Hopi Land

Senator Ben Knighthorse Campbell (L) with Tom Wilmer at Hopi Land

A conversation with retired U.S. Senator, Ben Knighthorse Campbell

Retired Republican senator, Ben Knighthorse Campbell explains to correspondent, Tom Wilmer exactly why the name “Redskin” is despicable and offensive. Campbell’s political career commenced when he was elected to the Colorado State Legislature as a Democrat in 1982. Following two terms in the state house, Campbell was elected to the United States House of Representatives where he served from 1987 to 1993. Campbell was also the first Native American elected to the U.S. Senate in more than 60 years, serving from 1993 to 2005 as a Republican. Campbell’s tenure, as both a congressman and senator, was etched with an advocacy for Native American causes and a belief in cultural self-determination. Some of his noted accomplishments include establishment of tribal operated schools, a law requiring museums and the federal government to return all human remains and sacred objects taken from tribes without their consent, and passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that guarantees the right of Native Americans to practice their traditional religion without state interference.

Check out this episode! on NPR.ORG Lowell Thomas Award Winning travel Podcast “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer”.

Wisconsin’s Central Rivers Farmshed & Stevens Point


Take a stab at the center of Wisconsin on a map and you’ll find the town of Stevens Point. It’s been repeatedly named as one of America’s best places to live as well as one of the Country’s best place to raise a family. With the University of Wisconsin’s Stevens Point campus, and numerous corporate businesses, such as Sentry Insurance, Travel Guard, and Land‘s End located here, the economy is doing quite, well thank you.
Central Rivers Farmshed, located in the heart of town might just serve as a metaphor for the engaged citizenry. Farmshed’s primary mission is to expand the connection between local residents and their food through hands-on participatory, educational, and cooperative actions and activities that directly support Central Wisconsin’s local food economy. Farmshed’s projects are fueled by a cadre of volunteers who have a passionate concern for locally produced and sources food, the environment, and their community.

Come along and join me as we visit with Layne Cozzolino, Executive Director of Central Rivers Farmshed We’ll then chat with Melissa Sabel, Communications Manager at the Steven’s Point Convention & Visitors Bureau as she shares some of her insights in to just why Stevens Point is such a dynamic place.


Check out this episode! on the Lowell Thomas Award Winning Travel Show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer a weekly featured Podcast on NPR.ORG Podcast site.

SF Palace Hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Renee Cade


Renee Cade, Executive Pastry Chef at SF Palace Hotel

Renee Cade, Executive Pastry Chef at SF Palace Hotel

The legendary Palace Hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef, Renee Cade and her enchanting Gingerbread House–

I find the holiday season in San Francisco to be an exceptionally festive time, notably along Market Street with its effusive shoppers, clanging cable cars, buzzing trolleys, the tinkling of Salvation Army bell ringers, and holiday music wafting on the air. A favorite Market Street stop for me is the legendary Palace Hotel with its not to be missed Garden Court restaurant set under a stained glass domed-atrium–it’s the stuff of pure romance. But the hotel’s annual Gingerbread House situated in the lobby is equally enticing—actually it’s more aptly an 8-foot-tall by 16-foot-long Gingerbread mansion. This year, Executive Pastry Chef, Renee Cade at the Palace has raised the bar in Gingerbread House land with the addition of two gigantic snow globes.

I’m Tom Wilmer, come along and join me at the Palace Hotel for a visit with Ms. Cade. She’s so passionate about her craft and so much fun to visit with that I couldn’t resist having her share a taste of her life journey that led her to become a Pastry chef. And of course, her passion for making awesome deserts and her love of crafting the Palace Hotel’s annual enchanting Gingerbread House.

Listen to Executive Pastry Chef, Renee Cade on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show featured weekly on the NPR.ORG podcast site: Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer.Check out this episode!

Gingerbread House at SF Palace Hotel

Gingerbread House at SF Palace Hotel

Palace Hotel website:

San Francisco tourism information:


Wisconsin–Cranberry Capital of the World

_MG_6082A Blog from the Bog!

Wisconsin—the Cranberry Capital of the World–Listen to the audio show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning NPR.ORG Podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Check out this episode!

For many of us, our first introduction to cranberries as kids was at Thanksgiving Dinner when a red gelatinous mass of cranberry-something was extruded from a tin can and neatly sliced into thin saucer shaped discs–served as an obligatory side dish right next to the mystery-relish. As a grown up I eventually discovered Ocean Spray Craisins and packets of tasty fresh dried cranberries at Trader Joes. But when I was offered the chance to experience the Wisconsin cranberry harvest up close—including wearing a pair of waders to descend in to a cranberry bog to lend a hand corralling cranberries—how could I resist?



Tom Wilmer interviews Tom Lochner, Executive Director Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association

So here I am the heartland of Wisconsin in the midst of the Glacial Lakes District, with waders up to my chest, learning way more than I ever imagined possible about the bright red, tangy, and tasty cranberry. The cranberry is Wisconsin’s official state fruit. And the state is America’s number one Cranberry producer, supplying more than 60 percent of the annual harvest, producing a billion dollars in economic impact and generating more than 5,000 jobs. I was fascinated to learn that Ocean Spray Cranberry is not a faceless, mega-agri-corporation but a co-operative of family farmers. Even more eye opening was discovering the cranberry’s incredible array of health benefits, including heavyweight anti-oxidants, along with bacteria blocking anti-adhesion properties that work to alleviate urinary tract infections, ulcers, gum disease, and more. We’ll start our Cranberry journey with Mike Moss, 3rd generation owner of the family run Elm Lake Cranberry Company, situated near Wisconsin Rapids. Next up is Glacial Lake Cranberries. _MG_5958In addition to their full time cranberry farming enterprise, the Brown family operates a gift shop/interpretive center, and leads farm-tours aboard their 24-passenger Berry Bus. We’ll visit with Tom Lochner, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. Susan DeRouchey shares her lifelong passion for Cranberries. And then we’ll stop by for a visit with Amy Scheide, owner of Great Expectations Catering in Wisconsin Rapids, who also shares her love for the tart little red berry, along with Wisconsin Cheese, of course.


Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association    Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Glacial Lake Cranberries and Cranberry Marsh Tours

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Great Expectations Catering

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin





Morro Bay National Marine Estuary’s 20th Anniversary

Morro Bay Estuary Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Morro Bay Estuary                                                                                          Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Morro Bay National Estuary celebrates its 20th Anniversary

 Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program is a non-regulatory, non-profit organization that brings together citizens, non-profits, government agencies, and landowners to protect and restore Morro Bay. Estuary program-staff members and volunteers conduct monitoring and research, restore natural habitats, and educate residents and visitors on how to keep Morro Bay clean and healthy.

Adrienne Harris, Executive Director, Morro Bay National Marine Estuary Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Adrienne Harris, Executive Director, Morro Bay National Marine Estuary
Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Correspondent Tom Wilmer meets with Adrienne Harris, executive director of the Morro Bay National Estuary program for a visit on the waterfront. Listen to the show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured weekly on NPR.ORG Produced by Central California NPR affiliate KCBX  Check out this episode!Morro Bay

Honor Flight–honoring WWII Veterans

Honor Flight from Washington D.C. to San Luis Obispo aboard US AIR

Honor Flight from Washington D.C. to San Luis Obispo aboard US AIR

Honoring WWII Veterans– Honor flights to Washington D.C.

Honor Flight’s primary mission is to escort WWII veterans from around the country to visit the iconic war memorials in Washington D.C. The first Honor Flight occurred in May, 2005 when a group of private pilots, at their own expense, flew a handful of Vets to Washington D.C. Subsequently, a nationwide Honor Flight network was established with regional hubs. Since 2006, all Honor Flight hubs have employed commercial aircraft due to the program’s burgeoning popularity. Come along and visit with Bear McGill, Central Coast Honor Flight’s chairperson as he tells passionate personal stories about the poignant pilgrimages with WWII vets. Next up, we visit with WWII Naval gunner, Stanley (Steve)

Stanley (Steve) Pivarski USN Gunners Mate 1942

Stanley (Steve) Pivarski USN Gunners Mate

Pivarski, who served on the USS Idaho for the duration of the war, including duty in Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies onboard the USS Missouri. Pivarski reluctantly agreed to talk about his wartime experiences–from the day he signed up through discharge and re-entry in to the civilian workforce. Stephen Pivarski passed away less than six months after our interview–five days before his 90th birthday. And then it’s on to visit with author and long time Parisian resident, Hilary Kaiser, producer of numerous books about WWII French War Brides–some who moved to America with their new husbands and others who settled in France.

Listen to the episode on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer featured weekly on NPR.ORG podcast site: Check out this episode!

Exploring N.E. Nebraska Part 2

Missouri River

Missouri River, Nebraska

Stacy Kreycik Miller & Tom Wilmer

Stacy Kreycik Miller & Tom Wilmer

Exploring Northeast Nebraska—a realm of never ending surprises

Niobrara State Park is located on a bluff top overlooking the confluence of the mighty Missouri and Niobrara rivers. What makes the setting distinctive is that it’s one of the rarely found, last remaining free-flowing segments of the Missouri. The mile wide section is much as Lewis & Clark would have witnessed back in 1804…and they camped right here. Join National Park Ranger, John Rokosz as he shares his passion for the region. Family farming has been a tough row to hoe for most Nebraskans for a very long time.

For those who cannot evolve and change with the times, farming and ranching quickly becomes an unprofitable exercise. But the Kreycik family has come up with creative ways to keep their operation viable. Under the watchful eye of Mom, Chris Kreycik, her daughter, stacy and her husband along with Stacy’s brother and sister in law, Allison, run every aspect of daily life on the farm, from feeding and doctoring the herds to fencing, repairing, driving tractors and much more. Join Stacy Kreycik Miller at Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Ranch in Niobrara Nebraska. Ponca State Park like Niobrara is set on the flanks of the wild & scenic portion of the Missouri River, Ponca is a one stop destination for families and especially extended family retreats. Main attractions at Ponca include, hiking, biking, golf, archery and of course, kayaking and canoeing on the Missouri. Join Jeff Fields, Nebraska Game and Parks Superintendent at Ponca State Park and Tyler Wulf, Assistant Superintendent. Dean Knutson is the Museum Curator at the De Soto Wildlife and National Refuge located in Missouri Valley, Iowa. In addition to an extensive wildlife interpretive center, a highlight of the facility is the showcase of pristine condition freight artifacts from the riverboat Bertrand that sunk on the Missouri back in 1865. The wreckage was recovered in the 1960s with 90 percent of its freight in showroom new condition due to the being entombed for more than a century in riverbed mud. And then it’s a visit with Nancy Gillis in Bancroft, Nebraska at the John Neihardt State Historical Site. Neihardt’s incredible lifetime achievements are chronicled and  showcased and his legacy remains ensured by being honored as Nebraska’s Poetic Laureate in perpetuity.

Listen to the show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer: Check out this episode!

Geocaching in Helena, Montana

 Geocaching at the Helena State Capitol

Treasure Hunting with a GPS: Geocaching in Helena, Montana

When correspondent Julie Henning takes her family on vacation, they always hunt for treasures. But instead of a treasure map and a compass, she uses a handheld GPS device and a website to find geocaches—containers of all shapes and sizes hidden around the world. Since she started geocaching in 2010, Henning has been to 29 states and four countries and geocaching has be come a major influence on how she sees the world. When she learned Helena was a hot spot for geocaching, the Montana state capital quickly jumped to the top of Henning’s travel bucket list. Recently selected by Rand McNally as the best place for geocaching in the United States, the Helena Montana GeoTour showcases the best Helena has to offer by taking high-tech treasure hunters to 38 truly unique destinations located in greater Lewis and Clark County.While the ultimate goal of a GeoTour is tourism and drawing out-of-towners in to see a city, one positive side effect of a GeoTour is that local geocachers become more aware of the history and significance of unique places within their own community. And it just so happens, the earliest settlers of Helena came to the area were looking for their own treasure—gold. Join Henning as she geocaches with her family at the Montana State Capitol Building, Manlove Homestead (the site of the first settlers in the Prickly Pear Valley), and at a historic cemetery Elkhorn, a ghost town once bustling with prosperity as residents made their fortunes. She also connects with the Capitol City Cachers, the local geocaching community instrumental in establishing and maintaining the Helena Montana GeoTour. Over breakfast the conversation ranges from how geocachers are perceived to notorious hiding spots, and the group laughs at some of the adventures and mishaps that make for great tall tales.

For more information on the Helena Montana GeoTour, visit Anyone can create a Geocaching account (it’s free) at

Check out this episode!



Exploring Northeast Nebraska


Nebraska Elk                              Photo Credit Thomas Wilmer


Deb Loseke

A journey of discovery of Northeastern Nebraska, featured on the NPR.ORG Podcast site, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Join Deb Loseke, Director of the Columbus Nebraska Platte County Convention & Visitors Bureau as she shares her insights in to why Columbus’s economic vitality is leading the pack in the Midwest.


Kim Bean COO Tasty Toppings Columbus, Nebraska

We’ll also chat with Kim Bean COO of Columbus based Tasty Toppings, manufacturers of the Midwest’s longtime favorite and revered Dorothy Lynch French salad dressing. The Genoa, Nebraska U.S. Industrial Indian School opened in 1884 and operated continuously, until the midst of the Great Depression. Nancy Carlson Curator at the US Indian School Interpretive Center in Genoa, Nebraska talks about the boarding school’s history.Indian school2


Donna Herrick


Kara Weander-Gaster

Next up is a visit to Norfolk, Nebraska’s 9th largest city is affectionately known by locals as the Capital of Northeast Nebraska. We’ll visit with Kara Weander-Gaster, Executive Director of the Norfolk Arts Center. And then it’s on to the Norfolk Lodge & Suites, owned and managed by an incredible woman, Donna Herrick.



Kim Kwapnioski

Johnnyh CarsonNorfolk is the town where Johnny Carson grew up and performed his first magic shows for the locals before pushing on to fame and Fortune as the most revered 20th century talk show host. Kim Kwapniosiki, Director of the Norfolk Area Visitors Bureau shares her passion for the town that annually hosts the Johnny Carson Comedy Festival the 3rd week in June. Listen to the full show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel podcast show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Check out this episode!