Yexplore Yosemite Adventures

images-8If you’re planning a first visit to Yosemite National Park, a guided hiking adventure is an excellent way to maximize your experience. Yexplore Yosemite Adventures offers an array of customized back country explorations, from day hikes to overnight backpack treks.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit

Yexplore also offers specialized Photographic workshops including one that’s focused on capturing Yosemite landscapes at night with a sky full of stars. Hiking options also include treks to the top of Half Dome, journeys through Tuolumne Meadows and alpine Lakes, and a backpack trip wending above the tree line across Red Peak Pass at 11,200 feet.

Photo Credit Yexplore

Photo Credit Yexplore

We met up with John Degrazio the CEO of Yexplore Yosemite Adventures in the Sierra foothills town of Sonora.

Listen to the conversation on Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, the Lowell Thomas Award winning NPR.ORG podcast. Check out this episode!

Telephone: 800-886-8009


AFTCO’S Bill Shedd Awarded Conservation Award

Bob Semerau (lft) Bill Shedd (rt) Photo credit: Barbara Steinberg

Bob Semerau (Lft) Bill Shedd (rt)
Photo credit: Barbara Steinberg

Bill Shedd, president of the American Fishing Tackle Co. was recently awarded the prestigious 2014 Californian of the Year by the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC). Shedd is the son of Milton Shedd, founder of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and SeaWorld San Diego.

In the past two years alone, Shedd’s American Fishing and Tackle Company has made approximately $500,000 in financial contributions to marine environmental research and conservation. He is a co-founder of United Anglers of Southern California, California’s largest sport fishing organization, leading efforts to develop White Seabass grow-out facilities and hatchery programs. Shedd volunteers more than 500 hours a year on marine resource and recreational fishing industry issues. Among his many contributions to marine ecology, Shedd is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hubbs/SeaWorld Research Institute, a member of the International Game Fish Association’s Board of Trustees, He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Coastal Conservation (CCC), and the California Artificial Reef Enhancement program (CARE).

Join Tom Wilmer, Vice President of the Outdoor Writers Association of California for a conversation with Bill Shedd–the 2014 Californian of the Year, on the Lowell Thomas Award-winning NPR Podcast, “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer”  Check out this episode!

Discovering Western Nebraska’s Treasures

Western Nebraska Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Western Nebraska
Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Scotts Bluff territory Nebraska-- Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Scotts Bluff territory Nebraska– Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Western Nebraska is a realm of never-ending surprises from the diverse environment where rolling hills are suddenly interrupted by towering sandstone bluffs and spires, rolling rivers, and even the largest hand planted forest in North America. The Sandhills of Western Nebraska are a mesmerizing undulating grass covered landscape that is a destination draw in its own right.

Join correspondent, Tom Wilmer for an exploration of cool things to do and see in Western Nebraska. Well start our journey in Sidney, Nebraska at the home and birthplace of Cabela’s outfitters.

Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Next stop is Alliance Nebraska where we’ll visit with Becky Thomas, director of the Knight Museum and Sandhills Center.

The Museum of the Fir Trade on the outskirts of Chadron, Nebraska showcases the roots of the American West that was trail blazed by fir trappers and traders, 200 years before the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

Western Nebraska is graced with tall sandstone bluffs and outcroppings. Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard, Nebraska includes an interpretive center where visitors learn about the trials and tribulations of the early pioneers. We’ll join Loren Pospisil who shares his insights in to Nebraska’s most recognizable visual icon of Western migration.

Pony Express statue in Sidney, Nebraska-- Photo credit Tom Wilmer

Pony Express statue in Sidney, Nebraska– Photo credit Tom Wilmer

IMG_4197Fast food chain eateries abound in Nebraska, but there’s a new generation of restaurateurs who offer trend setting cuisine. We’ll stop in at the Emporium coffee shop and restaurant in Scotts Bluff Nebraska for a chat with owner, Sara Schluter and her executive chef, Rob Backus who came from Napa Valley California to infuse Nebraska with cutting edge culinary offerings.

Listen to the in-depth interview on the Lowell Thomas Award winning NPR.ORG Podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer  Check out this episode!

Award-Winning Author Steven T. Callan


Ryan Hanson & Steve Callan

Ryan Hanson & Steve Callan

Listen to award-winning author Steven T. Callan, as he talks about his hit book, Badges, Bears, and Eagles—The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden. Steve’s book, a 2013 “Book of the Year” finalist, chronicles his illustrious thirty-year career as a wildlife protection officer for the state of California.

During his career as a wildlife protection officer, Steve Callan conducted some of the most fascinating, complex, and highly successful wildlife investigations in California history. He also collected a wealth of action-packed, suspenseful, and often humorous true stories. In Badges, Bears, and Eagles, Steve provides a vivid first-person account of his adventures.  Steve and his colleagues outsmarted game hogs, thwarted fish thieves, and foiled outlaws. Callan was even stalked by African lions and mauled by a five-hundred pound Bengal tiger. Callan and his working partner, Dave Szody, conducted a three-year undercover investigation which exposed a statewide criminal conspiracy to kill California black bears for their valuable gallbladders. It’s not all about catching bad guys—it’s also about conservation: in “Saving Lake Mathews,” Steve chronicles how he helped save a beloved wildlife sanctuary from development.

Callan has earned numerous awards for his work in wildlife protection. He also was recently awarded the 2014 “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” Craft Award, from the Outdoor Writers Association of California.

Passionate about the environment, Steve and his wife Kathleen are avid kayakers, anglers, bird watchers, and scuba divers. They currently live in the Redding area. The interview includes some commentary by a young State Warden, Ryan Hanson based on the Blue Fin in Morro  Bay Harbor.

Listen to Steve’s interview on the Lowell Thomas Award winning travel podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured weekly on NPR.ORG and produced by California Central Coast NPR affiliate KCBX  Check out this episode!

Steve can be found online at

Travel for the 21st Century…Stewardship Travel


Morro Bay Estuary

Morro Bay Estuary

Host Tom Wilmer visits with special guest Diane Strachan, Stewardship Travel Specialist. Stewardship Travel, a new trend in tourism, is about meaningful travel where visitors enjoy “doing good and feeling good” when on vacation.  It is about contributing in a small way when you visit a region, not just being an “extractive tourist” but being a “pro-active visitor” who is invited back again and again.

NPR.ORG’s award-winning podcast host Tom Wilmer helps audiences understand the ins and outs of this new travel trend by interviewing California’s San Luis Obispo County Business Improvement District’s Stewardship Tourism Specialist and seasoned adventurer Diane Strachan, a leader in outdoor, adventure travel, and environmental education for the past 35 years.

Strachan, who has won the California Governor award for Environmental and Economic Leadership for one of her projects, says, “Stewardship Travel helps visitors make a difference on vacation. It’s about creating and having many opportunities to care, learn, engage deeper, and feel great when on vacation. Welcome to tourism for the 21st Century.”

Stewardship Travel is the next step in the evolution of eco-tourism in America.

There is a selection of over 70 activities for individuals and families along California’s Hwy. 1 Coastal Discovery Route throughout San Luis Obispo County.

Listen  to Diane and the Lowell Thomas Award Winning show Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Check out this episode!

Exploring Nebraska’s Western Region

Scotts Bluff

Join Karen Kollars, Nebraska Agritourism Specialist as she takes us on an exploration of discovery of special places to see and things to do in the far western panhandle region. We’ll visit the Legacy of the Plains Museum and interpretive center in Gering. A visit with the Park Ranger at Scott’s Bluff National Monument, a landmark on the Oregon Trail. The High Plains Homestead, tucked on a hilltop in the northeast corner of the state, is a recreated 19th Century village—a collection of authentic pioneer structures that serve as guest accommodations and restaurant.

In the tiny town of Lewellen, The Most Unlikely Place serves great food in an art gallery setting where live music is also regularly performed. You have to see Carhenge, located on the outskirts of Alliance, to fully appreciate its uniqueness. Modeled on Stonehenge in England, there’s nothing like it anywhere else in America.

Fort Robinson Army post dates from the 1870s and served a variety of invaluable functions including a base for Calvary horses, the Buffalo Soldiers, and during WWII served as a German POW camp as well as major War Dog training facility. Today, it’s a state park where you can spend the night in old officers and enlisted men’s accommodations, some dating from the 1870s. We’ll join James Potter, State of Nebraska Senior Research Historian for a visit at the fort.

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


To lean more about exploring Nebraska:


Indianapolis Zoo’s International Orangutan Center

Quinn and Orangutan at Indianapolis Zoo

Join correspondent Julie Henning in Indianapolis, Indiana for the opening of the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo. The 4-acre, $26 million dollar state-of-the-art addition is dedicated to orangutan research and conservation.

Home to eight orangutans that were rescued from private owners and the entertainment industry, scientists at the International Orangutan Center conduct daily research on orangutan cognition and behavior that will be incorporated into published research and accredited studies.

Nearly the size of two football fields, the International Orangutan Center offers plenty of room for the orangutans to roam and opportunities for visitors to get “up close and personal with” the Great Apes. The Hutan Trail, an industrial looking network of cables, platforms, and bridges circles 60-feet around the perimeter of the exhibit. If it’s not raining, you can ride the Skyline tram for your own birds-eye view.

Key to the mission of the International Orangutan Center and the Indianapolis Zoo is to raise awareness (and donations) for the conservation efforts to save the wild orangutans in Borneo and Sumatra.

Dr. Robert Shumaker and Dr. Christopher Flynn Martin work with orangutans on touch-screen computer monitors inside the Center’s learning lab. Lisa Goodwin is the Senior Keeper of the Great Ape area. Goodwin explains what zoo patrons can expect when they visit the International Orangutan Center and what types of things piqué the orangutan’s curiosities.

Check out this episode! on NPR.ORG Podcast “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer

North Platte, Nebraska

Scouts Rest barn  Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Scouts Rest barn
Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer

Photo credit: Tom Wilmer

Photo credit: Tom Wilmer

In my opinion, the heartland of America is Nebraska and the heart of the heartland is the town of North Platte. This is where the legendary folk hero of the Wild West, William F Buffalo Bill Cody settled after a varied career that commenced when he signed on as a fourteen year old as a Pony Express rider…and this was just the start of bigger than life adventures that included serving as an army scout along the Santa Fe trail. His life transformed to the stuff of legend when he was invited to perform in New York as a cast member of Ned Buntline’s Wild West Show. Cody founded his new ranch, Scouts Rest in North Platt in 1876. And this became his home base for his world famous Buffalo Bills Wild West show that performed around the world.

Buffalo Bill’s legacy still permeates in and around North Platt. Come along and join Lisa Burk, the Executive Director for the North Platte, Lincoln County Convention & Visitors Bureau as we visit some of the not to be missed experiences such as the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park with Superintendent Jason Tonsfelt. While exploring Scouts Rest, we’ll visit with Rick Wyndham who was putting on a special chuck wagon barbeque dinner. Wyndham is a wild game cookbook author and outdoor adventure Radio host on KODY AM in North Platte.

 Nebraskaland Days, the state’s annual festival celebrating its history & traditions and cowboy culture includes parades, live concerts, plays, art shows and much more. Come along and join David Fudge Nebraska Land Days’ Executive Director for a taste of the events, including the Buffalo Bill Rodeo, proclaimed as the oldest rodeo in America.

Photo Credit Tom WIlmer

Fort Cody Trading Post         Photo Credit Tom WIlmer

Fort Cody Trading Post in North Platte, is the state’s largest souvenir store—but its much more than that—as it is one of America’s last standing, family owned roadside attraction… If you’re over 50 you might remember traveling cross country in the family station wagon and being tantalized by advertisements announcing the snake pit, or the café with alligator wrestling out back. just ten miles ahead. Chuck Henline’s father started their first Nebraska roadside attraction right after WWII. And their family business allures included, a two-headed calf, and a Native American family from the Lakota Rosebud reservation who danced out front every summer for more than 20 seasons. We’ll join Chuck Henline at Fort Cody Trading Post as he reminisces about his family business where play tomahawks and kitschy gifts remain super popular with the kids.

Dusty Trails Trail Rides Photo: Tom Wilmer

Dusty Trails Trail Rides
Photo: Tom Wilmer

A visit to West Central Nebraska would not be complete without at least an hour or two in the saddle. Dusty Barner and his family operate Dusty Trails trail rides right next door to Buffalo Bills Scouts Rest in North Platte. North Platte’s largest city park is fittingly named Buffalo Bill Park… and it’s a mandatory stop for not only an ice cream cone, a climb aboard an old Union Pacific train engine, but most importantly a step back in time to take a ride on a 100 year old merry go round and other rides, hand made by locals…. It really is a Mayberry RFD step back in time at least a half century.

Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Photo Credit Tom Wilmer

Listen to the show on the Lowell Thomas Award winning NPR.ORG Podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer.

Check out this episode!

Exploring Western Nebraska


Nebraska is full of surprises. For example, who would guess that the state is home to North America’s largest hand-planted forest! Come along and discover the Lincoln County Historical Museum in North Platte with curator, James Griffin. A museum highlight is a showcase of the historic North Platte train station Canteen that served coffee and treats to more than six million transiting servicemen throughout WWII.

Classic French cuisine melded with traditional Midwest faire is what you’ll find at the popular Canteen Bar & Grill in North Platte. Chef/owner Charles LaLanne continues the Nebraska FrencIMG_3472h-Connection first established when his grandfather emigrated from France in the 1920s.

Next up is visit to the Bailey Yard–the world’s largest railroad switching facility where more than 150 trains come and go every day. A highlight of the switching yard is the eight-story-tall Golden Spike Tower with spectacular vistas of the engine shuttling more than 10,000 rail cars and engines every day.

IMG_3488IMG_3504Tom_WilmerThe Charles E. Bessey Nursery, founded in 1902 and operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture supplies more than 1.5 million seedlings to parks and preserves annually. The nursery maintains day-use and overnight camping facilities, and it’s a popular destination for ATVers. The Sand Hills Open Road Challenge in North Central Nebraska is an annual event held in August. More than 400 race drivers descend from across America and Canada to participate on the closed-highway racetrack, The top Unlimited Class race speed last year was 146 MPH. Join race officials, Tom Witt and Duane Christianson, as they talk about the race—one of only three open-road races in America.

The Bar None Hat Company in Thedford, Nebraska is owned and managed by 35-year-old Kacee Hoffman. Join Kaycee as she shares the process of handcrafting classy cowboy hats. A not to be missed outdoor Nebraska adventure is to raft, kayak, canoe or tube-float down the Wild and Scenic Niobrara River. Join Twyla Graham, owner of Graham Canoe Outfitters in Valentine, Nebraska, as she shares her four-decade experience leading river adventures.

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

Exploring San Francisco on a Budget

Room With a View @ Parc55 Wyndham

Room With a View @ Parc55 Wyndham

Discover activities and dining recommendation in and around the Union Square area of San Francisco with Jason Beckham, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Parc55 Wyndham. Beckham provides a local’s perspective on things to do for free or on the cheap around the City, with a focus on family friendly destinations. He also offers suggestions for finding the most cost effective ways to book your hotel accommodations.  Listen to Jason Beckham on the NPR.ORG Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer Check out this episode!                 www.sanfranciscotravel