Category Archives: Making Passport to Adventure TV

production stories

New episodes arrive on PBS in 2012!

I am not an “early adopter”, actually more of a luddite, truth be told, but I may have to break down (much to my husband’s delight) and get an HD tv to watch the new season of Passport to Adventure. Once again, our “weather angels” cooperated, and I think we have succeeded in capturing the essence of our new destinations, in all of their stunning glory!

Worth the wait, coming to PBS, and international markets, in 2012…

Wavy, mosaic pavement, left by the Portuguese


MACAU, sans casinos!

An exciting fusion of Chinese and Portuguese cultures merges Buddhist temples with casinos, cod fish with coconut milk, old world architecture with tai chi in the park.  For more on Macau



Become one with the palms, ahhhhhh



With Mark at the helm, exploring the cays, bays and bars of the BVI, is sure to be an adventure! 😉   For more on the BVI , and here.




Another adventure in Aysen!

AYSEN, PATAGONIA squared (2 episodes)

This is what I love to do most – discover up and coming destinations, and share them with y’all! If you love raw nature, biking, kayaking, rafting, hiking, fishing, and interesting, earthy folks, add Aysen to your list pronto!

More on Aysen.




Elizabeth in her element, Columbia Icefield

ALBERTA, Canada, x 2

I had never been to her iconic rocky mountain parks, which fully lived up to their reputation. We also ventured off the primary tourist path, and discovered aboriginal sites, a very cool dinosaur museum, and in addition to finding my sister of a different mother (another story), I have an unusual new bff named Tara. See more Alberta images on our FB page.



My new bff, Tara.


Oh, and who woulda thought…there is a thriving “farm to table” foodie culture in Alberta! (Tara is not on the menu, but her cousin may be)

I never thought I’d be adding a restaurant in Calgary to my all time favorites list!


Full synopsis of Season Four episodes.


The Scoop…

I figured I may as well make this a blog post, and update everyone at once!

A lovely, bumpy road in Patagonia, Chile

So, here’s where things stand with Passport to Adventure…

The economic downturn caused us a few difficulties, but we are muddling through. Mark has retired, to sort out his own life challenges, and I have taken responsibility for fulfilling our obligations to clients and PBS viewers. Elizabeth and Aaron remain my dedicated crew. We have all made sacrifices to keep the “show on the road”, (bumpy road that it is!) but we are a passionate team determined to fulfill our mission – to inspire our fans to get out there and see the world – dirt roads and all!

We have six, new, HD programs that will go on the air on PBS in early 2012 – Macau, British Virgin Islands, Chilean Patagonia (2) and Alberta, Canada (2).  I promise they are all spectacular!

Anchored off Anagada, BVI

We know our viewers and PBS stations are anxious to see new episodes from us, and we apologize for making you wait so long!  (Be sure to let your local PBS station know you are looking for Passport to Adventure in their schedule, your feedback is always helpful to keep us on their “radar”!)  The TV industry is really not glamorous, it is brutal, and the PBS funding model is not easy to navigate, that said, we feel very privileged to air on a great network, and to have such loyal fans, so hang in there, the new shows will be worth the wait!

Thanks to all of our fans and PBS programmers for your continued support!!


links: If you are interested in more on the trials and tribulations of producing Travel TV in a recession, click on “bumpy Road” above.

And, if you want to know more about how we fund Passport to Adventure, click here!

Damn, no trust fund!

How much does PBS pay you for each episode? This question is always near the top of the FAQ list. People assume that if you have a show on PBS, they are paying you for it. Not exactly…

Here’s a crash course on how funding Passport to Adventure, on public television works.

I am an independent producer, meaning I raise the money and pull together the team to create the program. The bad news is raising money is TOUGH, the good news – I retain all control and rights to the program. (I also host, write, plan the shoots, oversee the editing, and handle all of the distribution and marketing of the series – good thing I love what I do!)

To cover costs and pay myself, I have to interest a few companies in underwriting the series on PBS. As an underwriter, companies get a “credit” at the beginning and end of each episode, in all airings on PBS. When it says, “this program is made possible by XYZ Company”, we mean it! Without these sponsors, programs like Passport to Adventure would not be on the air. The most difficult aspect of this funding model is, that it requires producers to compete in the advertising sales arena, with a huge handicap – FCC regulations severely limit what a credit spot can say on non-commercial TV. These restrictions, and the PBS independent station structure, make it challenging to convince a company to spend their dollars with us instead of on a commercial TV advertising package. One of our biggest selling points is that you, the PBS viewers, value a company’s support of quality, non-commercial TV programming, and therefore will buy their products!

So, the reality is, Passport to Adventure is truly a labor of love, an outpouring of passion for something we believe in. We all make a living, but we could make a lot more doing something else.

To make this endeavor financially viable, there are three avenues – get sponsors, creatively piece together small revenue sources – website/blog monetization, international sales, retail products, etc, OR,  have large trust fund. Unfortunately, there’s no trust fund in my past, or future, so I rely on creativity and perseverance!


Live small, Travel BIG!



Can’t find us on your PBS channel? Thank AT&T…

The saga… why PBS viewers will not be able to travel with us for a few months…

Passport to Adventure was doing pretty well going into this recession. We had some operating capital from past work, some great shows in the can, and more in the queue. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, my co-host, Mark, was digging himself into personal financial disaster, and had spent money that should have been earmarked for Passport to Adventure. Long story short, I assumed control, and responsibility for editing and distributing our new season of programs.

I love this illustration, spot on!

Probably the most infuriating element of the whole mess, was a simple cost-cutting measure that went very wrong. Mark had disconnected the Passport to Adventure toll free number, which seemed like no big deal, as most viewers contact us via email. Until I was notified that our distributor was going to pull the Passport series off the air, due to the non-working # shown in the credit role, unless I could get it reconnected.

I called AT&T and found that the # was still available, and proceeded to get it hooked back up. Easy, right? NOT! Nothing is easy with AT&T, by far the most incompetent company I have ever dealt with. (I guess they’ll never be a sponsor of Passport to Adventure, oh well) After two months, all I had to show for my hours spent, was a folder an inch thick documenting conversations with various departments at AT&T (all said no problem, they’d get it taken care of) and bills I paid for service I was not receiving. I finally had to give up. The whole ordeal was so incredibly frustrating, I was ready to kill someone (metaphorically speaking of course).  It’s absolutely amazing that AT&T stays in business. I have since switched all of my phone, internet and TV to Charter Cable, and so far, I am very happy with their service and price. Now I just have to pray that AT&T quits sending me bills for service they keep assuring me has been disconnected, and that AT&T doesn’t buy Charter!!!

The result of all of this is that Passport to Adventure will be not be airing for a few months, until we release our new programs, and re-feed the archived episodes with updated contact info. So don’t be alarmed when your local station tells you “the rights for Passport to Adventure have expired” and they are unable to air the program.

Stay tuned, we’ll be back soon, better than ever!


9-11 epiphanies revisited…

9-11 left me questioning my life. I looked at my beliefs about people, the way I spent my time, the things I really cared about, and wondered “am I really making a difference?”. I always thought I was, but now, in a flash everything I was doing seemed trivial, exhausting, meaningless.

Nature always gives clarity

Mainly, I looked at my career – work I had so much passion for suddenly felt small, silly, even arrogant. What right did I have to be on TV? Who was I to tell people they should travel more? Why should anyone care what I think? And why beat my head against the wall?  Ever since we started Passport to Adventure, TV industry execs and “ratings data” had been telling us the American TV audience isn’t interested in travel. And now, just as our small band of world-wanderers was beginning to prove the powers-that-be wrong, this happens. (The 1990’s saw increases in the number of Americans traveling to “adventurous”, previously feared, destinations – it was an encouraging trend for us)

In the weeks that followed, like the rest of the world, I tried to get my head around what it all meant. What was true? How do we move forward? What can I do to help? Producing Passport to Adventure no longer felt right. I even wondered if I should pull it off the air – was it offensive to promote travel when our country was suffering?

Then, one morning, I had an “ah ha moment”. I realized that what I did was now more important than ever. Someone had to combat the images and fears bombarding us. A terrible thing had been done, by terrible people, but from my travels I knew that the world is not full of these people.

Travel taught me that the people in every corner of the world are far more like us than not – they are primarily kind & generous, they welcome travelers, and they want to be able to provide for their family, just like us.

Is she really so different from you?

I began thinking… the only way to stop the madness is for the people of the world to know each other, to see other religions and cultures as made up of fellow human beings, not as “with us or against us”. Even for those that don’t travel themselves, maybe a program like Passport to Adventure can help people understand each other? I know, it’s a big task, for a little show, but if we can affect one person, isn’t that worth not giving up?


I remembered a package I had received a few years before from an elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, New York. They had shown our China program in the classroom, then had the students answer some essay questions. When asked what they had learned from the program, one student wrote:

“I learned that Chinese people are not mean”.

And there were other similar comments. It was fascinating to see how early xenophobia can take hold. (Our new slogan? “Passport to Adventure – prying open one mind at a time”)

Ten years later, the same conviction still drives me, as Passport struggles through this tough economy, the shake-up of the  TV industry, and I look for the way forward. Once again I find myself taking inventory of what I value, what is important in life, and where we go from here. One thing I know for sure – I will continue my quest to know the people of the world.

Live small, travel BIG!


Season Four episode descriptions…

Macau sans Casinos!

401.  Macau, a Fusion of Cultures, China (TRT 27:25)

In Macau, the fusion of the Portuguese and Chinese cultures has merged casinos with Buddhist temples, coconut milk and cod fish, Grand Prix racing with old world architecture. Portuguese chefs shop in the Chinese market to create one of the world’s most interesting cuisines. Residents practice Tai Chi in city parks, waves lap on the shores of sandy beaches, ancient neighborhoods hang on tightly to their identity – join us to discover Macau sans casinos!


Limin' in the British Virgin Isles

402.  Cruising the British Virgin Islands, Caribbean (TRT 27:09)

Whether you fly, ferry, sail or motor to the islands, you be swaying like a palm in the tropical breeze by the time you depart. We’ll explore the cays and bays of the BVI – snorkeling where pirates once buried treasure, climbing granite boulders at the “Baths”, and hanging out with the local characters at iconic beachside watering holes. Combine all of that with learning to “pilot the ship”, and you have a real adventure!


The road less traveled, REALLY!

403.  Patagonia, Chile – Dolphins, Fjords, & Rainforests in Aysen

(TRT 28:56)

In this two-part episode, we explore a truly off-the-beaten-path region of Patagonia. In Aysen, the main highway is mostly unpaved, travel is rugged, and the scenery intoxicating. Waterfalls tumble over lush mountainsides, wild flowers carpet riverbanks and dolphins frolic in pristine fjords – all of nature’s wonders crammed into one destination – and we’ve done our best pack it all into two episodes!


A gorgeous day on the glacier

404.  Patagonia, Chile – Condors, Lakes and Glaciers in Aysen

(TRT 28:05)

Our journey continues in the southern part of the region, where glaciers loom over crystal clear lakes, cows graze beneath snow-covered peaks, and fly-fishermen come in search of their nirvana. Julie kayaks through magnificent marble caves, hikes on a glacier, shares “mate” with the local fishermen, and enjoys pisco sours with an interesting mix of innkeepers.



Fall colors in Jasper, Alberta

405.  The Rocky Mountain Parks of Alberta, Canada

Landing in Edmonton, we step directly into Canada’s railroad history before embarking on the scenic train ride to Jasper. Touring the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, we stalk elk with our lenses, ride the “Sno Coach” onto a glacier, hike, canoe and learn about the early adventurers that made this area a renowned mountaineering center, and a mecca for nature lovers from around the globe.


Hoodoos in the Alberta Badlands

406.  Calgary & Aboriginal Alberta, Canada

Canada’s First Nations culture comes alive at aboriginal sites like “Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump”, and her earliest residents are gloriously displayed at the Royal Tyrell Dinosaur museum, where we get a back room tour! We’ll get back-to-nature at Waterton International Peace Park, get up close and personal with Tara the buffalo, then delve into Alberta’s vibrant foodie scene in Calgary!



Stunning coastline in Wales

407.        The Magical Country of Wales (TRT 26:46)

When legendary crooner Tom Jones pined for “the green, green grass of home” he was reminiscing about Wales.  Rolling pastures, flower-filled fields and hedge lined country roads – a romantic journey into the British Isles. The pristine countryside is ideal for cycling thru quaint hamlets and snuggling up to a fire in one of many lovely B & B’s. For the adventurous, the Welsh coastline provides stunning terrain for multi-day hikes; and the rugged cliffs and coves are a favorite for climbing, “coasteering” and kayaking. We’ll travel by canal boat and steam train, then engage the proud locals to learn about the revival of traditional Welsh crafts from a vintner, a whiskey distiller, and a cheese maker.

Crusing the Fjords of Norway

408.        Enchanting, Natural Norway (TRT 26:46)

Trains, ferries, and fjords – nature and man coexisting in splendor. From clean, green, cosmopolitan Oslo, to artsy, hip Bergen; Norway’s cities blend seamlessly with its pristine countryside. In this episode, hosts Julie Conover and Mark Jennings begin their adventure by cycling through Oslo to visit the royal palace, an outdoor folk museum, and an amazing sculpture park, then, ferry to a quaint fjord-side bungalow to dine on fresh mussels.  Next, they embark on one of the world’s most spectacular train adventures. Their journey takes them over a glacier to Flam, where they kayak and hike to discover breathtaking views; then board a ferry for the scenic trip through the fjord.  In Bergen, Mark and Julie wander alleys lined with colorful wooden houses, and stroll the historic wharf and fish market with the locals.

Authentic Baja still exists!

409.    Loreto, Baja California’s Best Kept Secret! (TRT 26:46)

No timeshare hawkers, high rises or massive resorts; just quiet coves and pristine islands for kayakers, gorgeous desert for mountain bikers, the original California missions, and an unspoiled Mexican town.  In this episode, hosts Julie Conover and Mark Jennings discover the secrets of the real Baja. Whether they are kayaking along the coast, or riding mules through the hinterland, the drama and mystique of the desert is a constant force. Mark and Julie hike with an environmentalist to learn about the delicate desert ecosystem and the preservation of it’s coveted water supply. They visit a remote California mission, and “ranchos” owned for generations by the same families, getting intimately acquainted with the landscape, history and people of Baja California.

Guamaniac Jeff explains a "lomo"

410. Guam – Where East meets West (TRT 26:46)

Warm, turquoise waters, lush jungles, intriguing island culture, cosmopolitan shopping and a plethora of historical sites await the traveler that makes the trek to Guam. The island is an endearing mix of Asia, 1960’s America and exotic Pacific island. Hosts Julie Conover and Mark Jennings venture into the little traveled parts of the island to swim in waterfalls, cha cha with the locals at the Wednesday night fiesta, and meet a refreshing group of teenagers passionate about preserving their Chamorro heritage. For the history buff, Guam’s WWI and WWII sites – both above and below the sea – offer a vivid depiction of the battles of the Pacific.