Huell Howser: Have camera, will travel
June 22, 2007
Video (1 hour 38 sec)
Videography by Academic Technology Services/MediaWorks
By Dave Jones
When TV travel guide Huell Howser comes a-calling, there is little doubt how he will react to all the neat things you show him: "That's ah-mazing!"
Sure enough, the homespun host found UC Davis simply amazing during a recent daylong visit for a taping of his Road Trip show. His hourlong program on UC Davis is set to debut at 8 p.m. July 12 on Sacramento's KVIE. At least four other public television stations in the state are due to present the program later this year.
Howser and his many series are public television staples in California. They are not big productions — just Howser and a microphone and a videographer. They go up and down and across the state, exploring parks, historic sites, even California's "five" corners (if you count the point in Lake Tahoe where California and Nevada come together).
He started his Road Trip series seven years ago, and in each of the more than 40 episodes so far, he has visited a number of places in a region. Until he got to UC Davis, which is the sole focus of the upcoming show.
"We knew there was so much going on at UC Davis," he said by telephone earlier this week from Palm Springs. "We decided to go with the idea that you could spend a whole day at UC Davis and have this variety of experiences, a myriad of things available to the public, at little or no cost."
In fact, Howser said, you could probably have a similar adventure on any college campus. "You don't think of a university campus when you are thinking of spending a day somewhere," he said. But, believe him when he says there is plenty to see and do.
Especially at UC Davis, where his itinerary included the arboretum, the C.N. Gorman Museum, the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the California Raptor Center and the Animal Science Horse Barn.
He said "UC Davis is even more interesting because of the 'Uni,'" referring to the Unitrans bus system, which can take you to a variety of destinations on campus and in the city of Davis.
Howser also paid tribute to bicycling at UC Davis, visiting the Bike Barn and taking a short spin on a two-wheeler. He advised people to "brush up on their cycling skills before they get into the mainstream" at UC Davis. "You have to know what you're doing to ride a bike on that campus."
Everywhere he went, "I was taken by the involvement of the students. … They are in many ways running a lot of the show." That includes the "Uni" as well as the CoffeeHouse, where he stopped to chat with some of the student workers.
For lunch he went to the campus's award-winning Segundo Dining Commons. "I gotta tell ya, that's the best deal in the state of California," said Howser, raving about the "all-you-can-eat gourmet food."
During the last academic year, the general public paid $8 to eat at Segundo, and staff paid $6.40. Howser liked the price and the food: "It's wonderful! It's crazy!"
Sounds like he would be eating at Segundo every day if he lived here. Another thing he would do every day is walk in the arboretum.
"I've never visited a park as beautiful as the arboretum. … It's unbelieveable. … That's as beautiful a place as anywhere I've been in California."
Continuing his nature outing, Howser visited the raptor center (where he saw the release of a red-tailed hawk after its rehabilitation), and the entomology museum (where he handled a Vietnamese walking stick and a hissing cockroach).
"We didn't do all the things we could have done," he said. "We spent a very rich, full day."
He said he hopes Sacramento-area residents who see his UC Davis Road Trip are inspired "to visit the campus and tap into that energy for themselves."
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