Inveterate California explorer/TV documentarian Huell Howser recently passed at 67. For those who don't know Huell, he was a long-time fixture and probably the most well-known/popular personality in CA public TV in the last few decades.
In his various "road-trip" series (e.g. "California's Gold", "Visiting with Huell Howser", "Road Trip with Huell Howser", etc., which are still rerun on public stations) he visited and documented many of CA's most colorful, unusual and offbeat places (both natural and man-made) and people, and won over TV viewers and interviewees with his folksy, upbeat Tennessee charm.
I watched many of his shows on PBS because, more often than not, they were the best thing you could find on the TV dial on any given night. One of my favorite episodes of "Road Trip" was the "Ridge Route" show, where Huell and a group of vintage automobile buffs take their Model T's and other old jalopies on a fairly treacherous journey over an old mountain road that used to connect southern and northern CA.
Some of you may remember him from a brief stint as weekend host for ET in the early 1980's. Matt Groening was also a Huell fan, and employed caricatures of him in a couple "Simpsons" episodes. Like many places he visited, Huell was also "another fine example of California's Gold". And his TV shows were a clarion call to arm-chair adventurers everywhere in the state. You can watch all of Huell's shows here. Godspeed HH.
Two views of the old Ridge Route (circa 1920):