Travel Ah-Ha Moments

The truth is, no matter where you go, and no matter how long you’re gone, you always come home with a new outlook on life.

Join my guests on Speaking of Travel as they talk about how travel has taught them not only about the world and other cultures, but also about themselves.

It’s true travel changes people in many different ways, and in each and every travel adventure you’ll discover an ah-ha moment that will change you for the better!

Traveling is not just going someplace. Even if you have no clear purpose, traveling provides you to grow in far more ways than we know.

I think we can all agree traveling is good! So what are you waiting for?

Remember… Don’t Postpone Joy!

Tina & Geoff Kinsey Install A Love Of Travel With Their Sons

Tina and Geoff Kinsey and their four boys love to travel and share their favorite family adventures. Each of the boys are named after special places and feel a connection to these places, even unseen.

Over the years, they have shared their most memorable family adventures when they have pilgrimaged to the name places. Find out what it means to Bryce, Blake, Tim and Lucas to have been named after different locations that are special to their mom and dad and how they have all bonded around their travel experiences.

Listen here!


Melissa and Ryan Reardon Discover Spain On An Epic Adventure

Melissa Reardon, editor-in-chief of WNC Magazine and her husband Ryan Reardon, the director of the Asheville Music School, love to travel.

After serious planning for a trip to Spain, they covered some epic ground, hitting nine cities in 2.5 weeks by doing three in-country flights, two car rentals, one train, and a grand finale at the Las Fallas Festival in Valencia.

Find out how they did it with months of advance planning and an 11-page Google doc! 

Listen  here!



Darren Nicholson of Balsam Range and Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters Talk Travel


Darren Nicholson of Balsam Range and Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters tell us about what life is like as traveling musicians and break down some perceptions of what it is like on the road.

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters were on a European tour to England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and The Netherlands this past summer and both Darren and Amanda talk about travel, food and life as a road warrior! 

Listen here!




Tess Vigeland Returns From Her Soul-Expanding Adventure

In late 2015, Tess Vigeland embarked on a remarkable journey. Home now, she talks about her lessons learned, the logistics of travel, the experience of being an expat and her midlife philosophical journey.

Tess visited 20 countries in two years and eight months, finishing up with her time abroad in Maldives, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and South Korea.

Find out what Tess misses about her life in Bangkok and what she's enjoying now that she's back stateside.

Listen here!




Speaking of Flying


Welcome to the new Speaking of Travel series, Speaking of Flying, a Speaking of Travel airport interview series highlighting passengers and their unique adventures through the Asheville Regional Airport! Interviewing passengers is a blast! Find out where people are heading and also learn some valuable travel tips! After listening to these fun tales from the terminal you'll want to book your next flight! Seriously!

Off To Switzerland

Madison is headed to Switzerland for an impromptu adventure. With nothing but a rented car, Madison and Steven plan to spontaneously explore Europe for a week. From the Holy Land to Russia, these two young travelers know a thing or two about experiences abroad. 

“Getting to see all these different cultures, you just have a deep respect for other people’s viewpoints and opinions,” Madison said.  “It really broadens your horizons. If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend everyone to go out and travel.”

Madison loves kicking off his adventures at the Asheville Regional Airport. “I don’t think we’ve ever walked through these doors in the last two years without someone greeting us by name. They make such a personal connection and take such good care of us.”

Listen here!


Traveling With A Baby

April and three-month-old Carter are making the trip back home to Orlando after visiting with family here in Asheville.

Traveling with a baby can be daunting, but April has some great tips for moms on the move. “We usually go to the dollar store and get a bunch of little items – they don’t even have to be toys – maybe calculators or boxes with things in them," April said.

"I find the best way to keep him occupied is to have anything that he hasn’t seen before, lots of snacks, let him engage with other kids on the flight and explore.” For April, flying out AVL makes all the difference. “I love going out of small, nice airports. It makes traveling with kids so much more convenient and less stressful.”

Listen  here!



Biking Around Germany


 Tom is off to Germany for an eight-day bike trip. Touring the country by bike leaves little room for excess when it comes to packing, and Tom understands the key is packing only the necessities. “I packed once and then I cut it in half,” Tom said. “People don’t need all that they pack.”

Tom loves starting his travels at AVL. “Every chance I get I come out of Asheville because it’s small,” Tom said. “These guys actually know me. I travel a good bit, and it’s easy. Lines are almost not existent and I love the friendly mountain people.”

Listen here!




Arizona Bound

Dan and Jen are making their way to Phoenix, Arizona, for a family event. Both Dan and Jen travel for work and they have figured out the secrets to packing like a pro.

“Pack for the security line to get in and out as quickly as you can,” Dan said. “Make sure you have liquids handy at the top of your bag… and reduce the number of electronics that you carry on with you.” 

Listen here!




Arizona Bound


Natalie and her family can’t wait to begin their family vacation! They're flying from the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) to Tampa to kick off their cruise to Cozumel and the Grand Cayman Islands.

Natalie’s children enjoy the perks of traveling with family. “They love traveling with their cousins,” Natalie said.

AVL helps Natalie start her vacation as quickly as possible. She said, “I love that it is so close to us, and that it has direct flights.” 

Listen here!

Tips For a Family-Friendly Adventure in Chimney Rock

Animal Encounters 1.jpg

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park is home to six hiking trails, an Animal Discovery Den and a variety of unique events that are perfect for people of all ages. If you’re planning your next family trip, here’s a list of things you can enjoy.

Kids and adults can learn about the creatures that call the Park home at the Animal Discovery Den.

The den houses an albino chipmunk, groundhog, snakes, frogs and many more animals that act as animal ambassadors to the Park. In June, July and August, and on holiday weekends, special Animal Programs are held at 2PM daily.

The Great Woodland Adventure trail, which is part of the Track Trail system, is designed for families with kids of all ages. It features 12 discovery stations along with locally-crafted sculptures of wildlife.

Earth Day.JPG

Hikers young and old can enjoy taking the newly-reopened elevator or the “Ultimate Stairmaster” along the Outcroppings trail to the Chimney. Want to reach new heights in a different way? Book a rock climbing adventure with Fox Mountain Guides

After hiking to the Chimney, there’s no better way for your family to cool off than by visiting the Park’s 404-foot waterfall. The gentle-sloping trail that leads to Hickory Nut Falls is shaded and wide, making it the perfect place for your gang to enjoy.

If you’re concerned that Fido can’t take part in family fun at Chimney Rock, there’s no reason to worry. The Park, other than the elevator and Sky Lounge, is pet friendly. It’s a NC Health Law that animals can’t go where food is sold.

There’s more than one way to enjoy a meal during your next visit to Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

The Park’s restaurant, Old Rock Café, can whip up hiker’s lunches for you and your crew. Just call before your visit or stop by. Each Hiker’s Lunch features an artisanal sandwich, chips, a cookie, fruit and a drink.

Grilling and outdoor time go hand-in-hand. There are several charcoal grills that guests are welcome to use. All you have to do is bring your supplies and food to enjoy an all-American picnic.

Enjoy views of the Rocky Broad River while chowing down on locally-sourced cuisine from Old Rock Cafe. Whether you’re in the mood for a salad or juicy sandwich or wrap, there’ something for everyone at the Park’s casual dining restaurant.  It’s open for lunch seven days a week.


Are you planning your next family reunion or car club get-together at the Park?

Don’t worry about preparing a meal. Let Chimney Rock Catering serve your group locally-made main dishes and sides that your guests are sure to enjoy.

Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park’s Annual Pass is just $28 per adult and $12 per youth (ages 5-15) and gives passholders unlimited admission to the Park for an entire year. That means that you can take time exploring all six of the Park’s trails during every season.

Why Cuba? Because It's Truly A Magical Place!


There's just something amazing about Cuba. Imagine sultry and sexy salsa music floating out of the alleyways of Old Havana, brightly covered houses, tobacco fields and tropical beaches. Cuba has something so special going on you can't help but fall in love. You might even call it love at first sight! 

According to the late, great Anthony Bourdain, "Havana's beautiful -- incredibly so. Probably -- no, definitely -- the most gorgeous city I've ever seen anywhere in the Caribbean or Latin America. The people are lovely. The baseball, some of the best and most passionate fans in the world."

Cuba is home to a vibrant and engaging music scene, a world-famous cigar industry, breathtaking scenery and so much more. This country is so vastly diverse and the true essence of the country, with such an intriguing backstory, lies within the gracious and welcoming people who live there and in the rhythm of the music. 

This is truly a place you will fall in love with at first sight. I've been fortunate to visit Cuba, and what I love most is more than the old cars, mojitos and cigars. It's the charm and vigor, nostalgia and color. You feel like time has stopped. This is a place of history, adventure and a rich and natural nature. 

Travelers can still visit Cuba legally and I recommend doing some research to find out all you need to know about travel to and from the island. There are many resources available to guarantee you have a safe and easy trip.

Check out two of my favorite websites for more info on travel to Cuba... and

By the way, Cuba has over 200 bays and 250 beaches to explore, making it arguably the best beach destination in the Caribbean!

Let's Grow Hemp!


Industrial hemp is making a comeback as a cash crop. Two players are stepping up their game right here in Western North Carolina. HempX and Franny’s Farm formed a strategic partnership and began with growing two acres of hemp. They are providing new leadership and guidance for potential hemp farmers across the South. 

In June, Franny's Farm, located in the lovely countryside of Leicester, NC, hosted  Hemp Hootenanny, a celebration of a once-illegal crop now allowed under regulated pilot programs. 

Blake Butler, co-founder of Asheville’s hemp movement HempX, helped organize the event held during Hemp History Week. HempX is fast becoming a voice for the hemp growing industry and working with farmers to learn about the hemp landscape.


When you think of all the things you can do with hemp and all the products you can create — from soap to houses and many, many things in between, hemp is helping farmer entrepreneurs all across this region create demand, economic activity and jobs.

Sooner than later, hemp will be huge in the US, and that will have a domino effect all around the world in a lot of ways.

Make your voice heard to support farmers! 

Find out more with my interview with Franny and and Marty Clemons, President of the NC Industrial Hemp Association.

Visit for more information.

Bella Italia!

Buongiorno! Thinking about going to Italy?  I’m pretty sure I could come up with at least a hundred different reasons why you should visit Italy. I’ve been twice and to be honest, I think I could probably live there! It seems as though visiting Italy is a bucket list entry for a lot of folks so you might as well give it a go!

I love the idea of going to Italy with someone who really knows the country. Mark Gordon Smith founded Private Italy Tours in 2003 and has traveled across Italy for over 35 years.


His company, Private Italy Tours, presents small group tours of Italy through its most beautiful and inspiring regions so you can discover the art, the history, the food and the people that are Italy.

Imagine your own villa. Cooks who prepare your meals. Private guides. Exceptional hotel accommodations. Full time bilingual tour leaders. You can actually experience Italy at the pace of Italian life. They provide all the support while you enjoy bella Italia; your own private tour of Italy.

So go! Discover and explore a world of seclusion and retreat where all you really have to is show up. Let's go to Italy! 

Click here to get to Heaven!


I Went To MerleFest and Got A Really Great T-Shirt!


I’ve lived in Western North Carolina for 40 years and had never been to MerleFest until a few weeks ago. I always WANTED to go, but each year came and went and I was never able to get it together to get up there. This is the thing about travel sometimes and I’m as guilty of this as anyone…. Because I had never been, I worried how would I pull off going? Where would I stay? What would it be like?

I’m here today to tell you when I set my mind to going, (Kris Kristofferson was a headliner and I really, really wanted to see him in person) I was able to put a plan in action, be patient, make connections, put all the pieces together over a three-month period, and see the plan unfold in my favor! It all worked out and I had a blast! Am I ever sorry I waited all these years!

   Photo Credit Jim Gavenus

Photo Credit Jim Gavenus

MerleFest is one of the most organized music events I’ve ever attended with an amazing lineup of talent. This was the 31st year and I would venture to say the festival’s four day audience exceeded at least 80,000 participants. But I never felt overwhelmed by the crowd. Everyone was so nice and friendly and certainly knew how to have a good time. 


MerleFest is like a big camp for musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, with no alcohol! The festival originated as a simple, loving idea to cultivate the campus gardens and overtime grew to honor the memory of Doc Watson’s son Eddy Merle Watson and become a celebration of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of our Appalachian region.

Some highlights of MerleFest 2018 are included in the conversations I had with some of this year’s performers in their element.

You just can’t come away from MerleFest without hearing so much great music and seeing so many talented musicians. I had an incredible time and plan on returning again and again. And I got a great t-shirt! Sometimes you have to go for it. 

Listen here for some great conversations and incredible music!  

Celebrating Five Years of Speaking of Travel!

I walked into a restaurant recently and a woman approached me and asked if I was Marilyn Ball, from Speaking of Travel. Wow! She said she listens every weekend and loves to hear the stories. She told me she's saving money now for her special decade birthday coming up next year. She explained to me that hearing others talk about how happy they are when they travel, and how it is worth any and all sacrifice to go and get out of their familiar zone, made her more determined to just do it. This makes me so happy! 

Each and every conversation on Speaking of Travel reveals at some point how travel has changed a life in some way or another. How meeting new people of all cultures, eating new foods and placing themselves into the unknown turns out is quite powerful and empowering! 

Listen for yourself and and before you know it, you'll be packing (smartly) and ready to go! Enjoy! 


A family road trip is a great way to have fun and create memories. For the Kunst family, road tripping is a tradition and reached epic proportions when their oldest daughter sat in the driver’s seat on their latest cross-country trip. They still like each other!

Listen here!





Imagine traveling the world with your bestie who is your twin! Gregg and Ross Levoy take a month-long trip every year and they have fun stories to share! Traveling with your twin does have benefits! 

Listen  here!





Michele Laub believes the path of transformation is often revealed on a journey to a sacred site and she leads guided spiritual journeys to Teotihuacan, The Pyramid City in Central Mexico, the Ancient Home of the Toltecs, known as Artists of the Spirit.

Listen here!









George Steinmetz has a restless curiosity for the unknown and the mysteries of science and technology. He's a contributor for National Geographic and a TEDX speaker.

Listen here!







MerleFest, founded in 1988 and one of the best music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming for musicians and music fans, held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, NC. 


Listen here!








In 2015, Tess Vigeland left most everything and bought a one-way ticket abroad to see what life was like away from all she knew. Tess has learned a lot in the last 2+ years spent traveling throughout SE Asia and beyond.

Listen here!




There are so many great travel stories, travel tips and inspiring life-changing moments all here on Speaking of Travel! Take a few minutes and let yourself be taken away to lands far and near… No Passport Required!

Go Take A Hike at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park!

Are you ready for a hike?  

There’s no better way to experience the best of the mountains in one place than with a hike at iconic Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. The better you prepare for your adventure, the more fun you’ll have.


Water is a must.

Hydration is key to a successful hike, but you would be surprised at how many folks come unprepared. It’s best to drink plenty of water before you come, so you’re well hydrated before you start. Then, continue to drink more as you go.  Be sure to pack a bottle of water or buy some to take with you. A telltale sign of dehydration is light headedness and fatigue.  Sit down, drink some water or Gatorade and rest till you begin to feel better.    

The Right Shoe for the Job.

We’ve all heard that there’s a right and wrong way to dress for a job intervie0w. The same can be said about the shoes you choose for a hike. As a rule, hiking shoes should fit snug everywhere, be tight nowhere and offer room to wiggle your toes -  that way you have perfect footing along the trail.

Snacks for the Journey.      

Got a full day of hiking ahead? Make sure you pack snacks that are trail friendly, which means they’re portable, easily accessible and nutritious.

 Backpack. A Place for Everything.

Once you’ve got all of your supplies, you’ll want to pack them in a bag that’s easy to carry. Outdoor stores can fit you for the perfect pack if you’re in need of one.

Who is Going to Hike with Me?

It’s easy to know what kind of hiking experience you want, but if you’re traveling with a group you might want to think about who is coming with you. Does your party have smaller children or someone with mobility limitations? You might want to choose a gently-sloping, shorter trail.

Hats and Sunscreen. Protection from the Elements.

If you’ve ever spent a few hours on the trail, especially in the spring or summer, you’ve probably dealt with a sunburn or two. You’ll thank yourself for using both when you come for a day of hiking.

How Far Do You Want to Go?

  Photo Credit Chuck Hill

Photo Credit Chuck Hill

Time and other factors often affect the way we plan. it’s important to consider how long you want to be gone and how far you’d like to go. Do your research so you’re sure to get back before the Park closes.

Capture your  Memories.

Bring your camera or cell phone.  Take some photos of your favorite views and/or your friends and family that accompany you. Relive your trip every time you look at your pictures and share them with others.  Enter the Park’s Seasonal Photo Contest and win some prizes, too.

When is the Best Time to Hike?

If you’re interested in beating crowds, making great time on your hike or avoiding the heat, you’ll want to plan on hiking earlier in the day. It often heats up as the day wears on and more folks come mid-day, making it more congested.


How to Choose the Best Hike for You

I think we’ve all joined a friend for an outing and midway through thought “this is not what I expected to do!”  Ask yourself these questions before choosing your next hike.

What Do You Want to See? 

Whether you want to see amazing views, birds, flora or fauna, it’s important to do a little research about the trail before your hike. Some trails, like the Park’s Outcroppings trail, provide great views. Wildflower lovers will want to check out the Four Seasons trail and the Hickory Nut Falls trail.

Waking Up In A City That Never Sleeps!


I love rituals and a trip to New York City is one of those traditions all families should experience with their children. My daughter's first visit to the Big Apple was when she was eight and we attended my cousin's wedding. What a wonderful trip that was! We spent time exploring Little Italy, Chinatown, took the Staten Island Ferry to see Lady Liberty in all her glory and went to the top of the Twin Towers. She's all grown up now and visits New York as often as she can. So all these years later, it was time for the tradition to continue with her two girls, seven and two. 

We made the trip into a family reunion during spring holiday season. 


We met friends from Boston and we all stayed down at the Battery, one of the more somber areas in the city.

We could see the Freedom Tower from our hotel window on one side and the Statue of Liberty from the other.

Walking around the neighborhood we found great restaurants and wonderful bars and historic sites. 

The kids celebrated their first subway journey, first Broadway show, first real New York style pizza, first cab ride. So many firsts we couldn't keep up. 

Each day we walked for miles, stopped for yummy food and did a lot of people watching. We visited Chinatown, Little Italy, rode over bridges, saw Hamilton's grave.

We walked through Central Park and rode the Sea Glass Carousel. By the end of each day we were exhausted but ready to get up and do it all again!

And of course we caught up with the family! Sweet! 

A trip to Manhattan is a ritual for kids of all ages! With so much to see and do, one trip is just not going to be enough! 



The Embodied Aesthetics Through Yoga Research Project

A Case for a Yoga as a Neuroaesthetics Topic and Tool by Jonna Kwiatkowski  

Jonna Kwiatkowski, PhD, and Associate Professor of Psychology and Art Therapy at Mars Hill University has researched and taught about the psychology of creativity and aesthetics for 22 years. She recently returned from a sabbatical on the island of Mallorca where she focused her research and developed The Embodied Aesthetics Through Yoga Research Project. Here are Jonna's thoughts on the project and how you can participate. 

 “There is just this for consolation: an hour here or there, when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.”
– Michael Cunningham, “The Hours”

In “The Hours," author Michael Cunningham famously assigns Clarissa Vaughn the lament that one must endure a mundane existence between brief moments of elation, creation, and joy.  The work of everyday life is to make it through with little inspiration in hope of a future day or even moment where sparks fly and life dances. While it is possible to find a melancholy beauty in this perspective, it might also lead to despair. What to do the morning after a beautiful experience? Settle into the knowledge that it will likely be some time before the mind and body gets another opportunity to whirl in such perfect synchrony? Start searching for that next thing that might make the world hum? Bury yourself in social media feeds…


It is this version of elusive beautiful experiences that is most often studied in empirical aesthetics research. Classically, researchers have presented people with many variations of a (usually) visual object such as a strange squiggly figure that varies in symmetry, color, angularity, etc. (e.g., Berlyne, 1970) and then evaluated which combinations lead to the highest preference ratings. With improvements in neuroscience techniques, there has been a resurgence of interest in psychological aesthetics research. In this newer neuroscience-driven approach, similar stimuli are often used, but the goal is to evaluate patterns of brain response when preference is high and low, as well as how brain responses change with different types of stimuli (e.g., Chatterjee & Vartanian, 2016).

Notice that in the classic and updated neuroscience research paradigms, some external stimulus provokes the aesthetic response. Most often, researchers have used visual art-inspired stimuli, but there is also plenty of published work about the aesthetics of other arts forms - music (e.g., Brattico, Brattico, & Jacobsen, 2009), dance (e.g., Christensen & Calvo-Merino, 2013), fiction (Djikic & Oatley, 2014) – but note again that the aesthetic experiences are caused by something happening outside the person.  There is a strong assumption in much of the empirical aesthetics research that aesthetic experiences require being exposed to something beautiful. Like Clarissa, aesthetics researchers (including me) have had us seeking that exquisite something that bursts open our lives for a fleeting moment.

But experiencing beauty isn't merely witnessing something ephemeral. There is another area of psychological research that offers a different perspective on these experiences: yoga, meditation and mindfulness-based research. Within these research areas, there is also an interest in understanding which parts of the brain are activated through these practices, and how the worldview changes along with it. Most of the work has been conducted with meditators (e.g., Fox, et al., 2016) with some focus on yoga-based practices (e.g., Cahn & Polich, 2013) in order to understand the cognitive and neurophysiological responses to a largely internal process. Any changes that are observed are assumed to arise from an inward focus and quiet or silent internally-oriented cognitive processes. In other words, the most common stimulus for meditation or yoga-based research is inside the person, whereas the most common stimulus for aesthetic research is outside the person.


This matters for my research because I have found that despite the stimulus, the cognitive and neurophysiological response to outward aesthetic objects and internal yoga-based or meditative practices is very much the same in the research literature. There is almost complete overlap between the descriptions of a person having an aesthetic experience and a person having a meditative experience in published academic research. These similarities led me to the reflections of Clarissa, but from a researcher and yogi's perspective. I asked myself, "Do we need to wait for some external object to have a beautiful experience, or might we be able to learn internal contemplative practices such as yoga and meditation to cultivate them within ourselves? Might we have the potential to learn how to live more of our time feeling as if we were seeing a beautiful painting, listening to joyful music, or dancing in synchrony with the world around us?"

I have created this website and am doing this research to explore the possibility that yoga-based practices can facilitate aesthetic-like experiences both during and after practicing yoga. In future posts, I will add more detail about how aesthetics and yoga-based practices share common philosophies, theories, and empirically-driven research results. If you are interested, sign up for our mailing list to receive updates and consider participating in the Spring 2018 research project.

Thanks for your interest in The Embodied Aesthetics Through Yoga research project!



The Gourmet Highway

The 2018 season of the Gourmet Highway with Doc Lawrence is on the air, live and delicious each week on Speaking of Travel! This season Doc visits top restaurants, bars, galleries, theatre and museums in Nashville and New Orleans, a prelude to a culinary and arts tour of Savannah, Key West, Louisville, Memphis and many other exciting destinations. 


Doc Lawrence is a travel writer, author, veteran journalist, producer and broadcaster. He knows wine, cocktails, tailgating, books and music better than most anyone you would meet! If you look up Southern Gentleman in the dictionary, you would see Doc's photo! 


The Gourmet Highway is a state of mind. Those who are steeped in culture form the bedrock of appreciating all things worthy, whether food, fine wines, historic cocktails, legendary hotels, restaurants and clubs or museums, art galleries, theatrical performance venues, architectural wonders and many things in between.

An unforgettable dinner at Antoine’s in the French Quarter takes on more romantic memories when its preceded with a visit to the Faulkner Bookstore and afternoon cocktails at The Napoleon House. In Louisville, before dinning in the Seelbach’s Oak Room and imagining an evening there with Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, a tour of the Muhammad Ali Museum and Heaven Hill Distillery adds great fascination.


Nashville is an emerging culinary center. Great restaurants are short distances from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Studio B on Music Row where Elvis had over 200 recording sessions. Post dinner drinks at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge is almost mandated.

Grab a margarita and join the winter fun in Key West. Doc begins at Mile Zero Post, then walks to historic Duval Street with its array of restaurants, legendary bars and boutiques, then enjoys another margarita at the sunset celebration on Mallory Square, spends the day at "Papa" Hemingway's beautiful home and discovers why both Harry Truman and Tennessee Williams loved the Conch Republic.

Listen to Doc as he travels along The Gourmet Highway!


Listen to Speaking of Travel and Be Carried Away!


Travel is one of the most direct and intuitive ways of feeding your soul. Experiencing places you’ve never been impacts your worldview and the way you establish and maintain that view. It changes how you view the human race, not only among those around you, but yourself and those you love.

 Every single person I’ve spoken with on Speaking of Travel over the past five years has told me how travel changed their life in some way or another. Meeting new people of all cultures, eating new foods, stepping out of their comfort zone and placing themselves into the unknown turns out is quite powerful and empowering!

There are so many great travel stories, travel tips and inspiring life-changing moments all here on Speaking of Travel! Take a few minutes and let yourself be taken away to lands far and near… No Passport Required. 

Click Here to Hear Past Podcasts and be Carried Away!



Wine With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doc Lawrence of Down South Today


The nation remembers and honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this month with a national holiday. His words will be repeated on the air, in classrooms and in forums. Peace, justice, understanding and non-violent social change are associated with Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement that he led to the end of his life his life.

King and wine? It happened long ago on a rainy night in Atlanta. My friend and mentor Jim Sanders gave me the story, a typed manuscript he prepared shortly after the historic event. Sanders, who died in 1999, was one of the pioneers of fine wine in the South.

Sanders, a bear of a man, taught thousands in his wine classes, a course equal to anything I experienced in graduate school, and poured wines for tasting, introducing students to the greatest wines on earth. The pours were never stingy.

The meeting with Dr. King was impromptu. It was Dr. King’s anniversary and he was shopping at Sanders fine wine store for a bottle of wine for a special dinner. There were others there that included King’s friend, a Pulitzer Prize winning editor/publisher and his arch enemy, a segregationist governor.

The story is one of the most interesting of my career. It is Jim Sanders’ account of a wine tasting for the ages and to my knowledge, remains the only first-hand account of Dr. King enjoying wine.

Here is Doc's broadcast of this momentous gathering!

Travel Outside Your Comfort Zone into the Mysterious Frontier!

In Paulo Coelho’s allegorical novel, The Alchemist, an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. The absorbing story follows the journey of a boy in search of a hidden fortune, only to discover the richness inside himself. The story is simple and inspires wisdom.

There are many paths to spiritual awakening. For Santiago, traveling outside of his comfort zone into the mysterious frontier lying ahead is a testament to the importance of listening to our hearts and taking action moving forward.

For me, like Santiago, travel introduces new realities and provides a broader worldview for enriching my soul and enhancing my own landscape for further inner growth and development.

So when I was invited to join a group of 15 on an adventure to Southern Spain and Portugal, I accepted. I knew I would be entering unknown territory.  New challenges lay ahead and I would escape my own comfort zone and take a huge leap of faith with hopes of realizing a spiritual awakening in this region so rich in history and mystery. I viewed the opportunity as my own pilgrimage of self-discovery and renewal.

I traveled alone to Lisbon, Portugal and then flew to Seville, Spain, to meet the group. We traveled by cars to a rural area of Andalusia, the same region where Santigo begins his journey, to spend our first week in a 19th century farmhouse, traveling each day to areas in and around the region before moving on to Portugal.  

Aside from the few people I knew from Asheville, the rest of the group were unfamiliar to me. Believing that people equal possibilities, I traveled with the intention of making new friends and creating new social ties.

The first night at the farmhouse, everybody agreed to the agenda for the week ahead. Each day, anybody could go anywhere, with anyone, for as long as they wanted. Dinner for the entire group was served sometime in the evening, with everyone pitching in to cook and clean. There were no expectations, and a nice flow soon permeated the farmhouse. 


This area, where Santigo lived and worked as a shepherd, is a melting pot of ethnicities. Given that the origin of humanity was almost certainly in Africa, several theories suggest that the first real humans in Europe were in Andalusia, having passed across the Strait of Gibraltar.

As we traveled this magical region filled with narrow medieval streets and whitewashed homes nestled into the hillsides, I found the common image of Andalucía to be one of bright colors, romance, and passion. The figure of the matador in the bullring, cape and sword in hand, and the gypsy art of flamenco, all combined into a symbolic life in this mystical part of Southern Spain.

At the end of each day, the group came together for our evening meal, always consisting of a medley of tapas, fresh fish, olive oil and saffron, Manchego cheese, olives and some of the sweetest wines I’ve ever tasted.  We shared our stories of explorations and discoveries and I was beginning to understand how we were all somehow connected.

As the days went on, I discovered how each of us, in our own way, was searching for his or her own hidden treasure. By sharing our experiences we were richer somehow than when we first arrived. Everything around us became brighter, and each day was better than the day before.

While exploring the many ethnic influences of the region, I gained a broader understanding of how the terrain of earth and soul are perfect reflections of each other and how the connection to the spiritual essences within all of us ushers in deeper levels of acceptance, feelings of peace and releasing of fears.

On this journey, I fell in love with the people, the language, the food and the essence of all those who had traveled here from the beginning of time. I realized how destiny was waiting for me in this land I would never have discovered on my own.

Somehow fate was on my side as I had traveled across lands and water, determined to tackle my fears of the unknown in the pursuit of my own personal legacy.

By taking this forward leap, I met people who would forever be a part of my life and explored a part of the world no longer just held in my imagination. For life to be fully experienced, you must make peace with your fears and step out of your comfort zone.

The connection soon became more apparent between my inner-self and the Earth I walk upon. Like Santigo, I came away with the knowledge that when you leave behind the familiar, you can’t help but be changed by the unknown. 

Why South Africa Should Be On Your Bucket List! 

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Southern Africa offers not only amazing game viewing (the Big 5 can definitely be seen in South Africa), but breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, unbeatable cuisine, stunning beaches, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fabulous wines and wineries, and a deep and ancient archaeological history of humankind.

It is also the singular home to one of the six floral kingdoms on Earth – the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Recommendations When Visiting South Africa:

• Visit Kruger National Park, a flagship park of South Africa and among the largest in all of Africa.

• Visit the many smaller and more intimate game reserves in the coastal province of South Africa, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

• Visit Table Mountain, one of the new Natural Wonders of the World.

• Visit Cape Town and it's vibrant city life and breathtaking natural beauty.

• Visit a local village or school, and see life from a different perspective.

• Visit the cradle of humankind, the world's richest hominin site and home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils.

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Recommendations When Visiting Other Parts of South Africa:

• Visit the Okavanga Delta in Botswana

• Visit Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

• Visit the Etosha National Park in Namibia

Thanks to Toby Brown at Outdoor Africa for these great tips and suggestions!

Find out more:

A Love Affair With Martha's Vineyard!

 Gingerbread House photo by Del Holston

Gingerbread House photo by Del Holston

There is so much to see and do, one trip will just not be enough! This is truly a place where memories are made from the moment you begin
your journey! 

 Lighthouse by Del Holston

Lighthouse by Del Holston

If you're looking for a magical and fun destination, Martha's Vineyard is a the place to go! I had the opportunity to travel from Boston to this tiny island off the coast of Cape Cod towards the end of September. This  trip was so enchanting and fun, I am looking forward to returning again (and again)! Martha's Vineyard is accessible all year long by air or sea. We took the ferry and loved the journey across the water.

 On the Ferry!

On the Ferry!

 Lobster roll by del holston

Lobster roll by del holston

You can explore the island on 30 miles of paved bike trails, take a tour of one of many historic lighthouses, and find some of the most amazing original artwork! The food scene is to die for, especially if you love chowder and lobster rolls (both of which we ate every day!).


 Nancy Gardella, Executive Director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

Nancy Gardella, Executive Director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce & Tourism

To listen to my conversation with Nancy Gardella, Executive Director of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, and find out why so many fall in love with this magical and special island and why it remains one of the most popular and picturesque destinations in New England, click here. 

The Asheville Regional Airport – When You Fly Home – You’re HOME!


The Asheville Regional Airport is home to 50 flights every day to and from cities like Atlanta, Charlotte and Chicago so you can fly to hundreds of world-wide destinations with one easy connection.

There are also many airlines to choose from, like Allegiant, American, Delta, Elite or United.  So when you fly home – you’re HOME! So why start your trip with a road trip? The Asheville Regional Airport really IS your easy way out!

To find out more, visit

Tailgating Down South with Doc Lawrence

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Doc Lawrence of Down South Today is the king of tailgating and he shares with us how tailgating is evolving and growing into a phenomenon of epic proportions! Beginning in the Civil War... (yes... that's correct... the CIVIL WAR!), tailgating found its way from the battlefield to the college football field... well, more like the college football parking lot and beyond! Food, beverages, fabulous hospitality and entire communities come together to create an atmosphere of fun and fellowship. We're talking about true Americana here. A celebration where fans gather peacefully, wearing colors associated with their favorite teams and welcome everyone to the table (tailgate)! Today, it's just as much a part of a game day Saturday in Athens, Georgia as Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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This fall, Tailgating Down South will visit the great campus stadiums of the ACC and SEC with a few surprises. Doc and his team welcome recipes and favorite wine and cocktail suggestions. Down South Today will give you full credit as they choose the best submissions. Contact Doc at

Check Doc out and learn more about Tailgating Down South by visiting

Click here to listen to Doc Lawrence tell us all about Tailgating Down South! 


Dayna Reggero Travels the World to Help Our World!

Travel is one of the most intuitive ways of feeding your soul. Experiencing places you’ve never been impacts your worldview and the way you establish and maintain that view. It changes the ways you view the human race, and the environment, and really can become the catalyst for solving the world’s most pressing issues.

Dayna Reggero of The Climate Listening Project and The Story We Want, is a savvy, smart woman who is making an impact in helping us understand what climate change means to real people through real stories. 

She has traveled to work, study or explore all over the world as a filmmaker and storyteller for the environment for 20 years. 

Dayna has traveled to Australia, Ecuador, Italy, Ireland, Switzerland, Fiji, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Virgin Islands, Canada, and 45 of the United States. She traveled to Belize to film The Wood Thrush Connection documentary as part of The Climate Listening Project and lived in Ecuador for three months when she was 17 years old, and she volunteered for three months in Italy in a newly preserved forest in the Italian Alps.

 The Climate Listening Project is a series of hopeful conversations on climate and community. The project began in Asheville, NC and she has traveled around the Southeast, across the US, and around the world.


Dayna's newest venture is The Story We Want - a new film series filmed in eight states across America, featuring women who are confronting pollution, climate change impacts, and a culture of extraction.

Learn how we can all participate in helping connect people globally and right in your own backyard to help our environment and make a difference for all future generations. 

Click here to listen to Dayna's conversation on Speaking of Travel!