This episode will be a bit different than any to-date, for two reasons. First, the video is not my own work, and second, my comments below will be sort of my testimony as a lifetime rambler. I found this video that will give you a broader look at travel opportunities in the western portions of the USA than I can all by myself. I hope you’ll appreciate this video by VietTin Travel, which I found online.
The Testimony of a Life-Long Rambler: How Rocky Ultimately Started the TV Show, Rocky’s Ramblings.
It is more than a little satisfying to realize that I’ve been to most places highlighted in this video from VietTin Travel! The reason for that is that travel has always been an important part of life in the Rockwell family – a huge reason why I started Rocky’s Ramblings upon my retirement from a more structured career. So, I thought a testimony of a life of rambling might give you, my faithful viewers and fellow ramblers, a better idea where this show comes from and what my motivation is.
Before departing on my rambling testimony, I need to give you a basic chronology of where I’ve lived: I was born in Wisconsin, but my family moved to Colorado when I was 5 years old, where I lived all the way through school. Right out of college, I joined the Peace Corps and moved to Botswana, Africa, where I was a Wildlife Conservation Education Officer for the Botswana Department of Wildlife, National Parks and Tourism. Upon returning to the US, I looked for work that would allow all of these experiences to remain central to my life. I started as an Interpretive Park Ranger for the US National Park Service in Colorado, which parlayed into a career with the US Army Corps of Engineers, first in Bismarck, North Dakota (yeah, from the heat of southern Africa to the cold of North Dakota within a year). After 6 months, I transferred to Hot Springs, South Dakota, where I stayed for 10 years, married and where all three of our children were born. From there, it was on to Clarkston, Washington, where we lived for 20 years before moving to Bassett, Virginia, nearly 9 years ago.
With that background, my rambling testimony begins by sharing that, because Mom felt that travel was a very important part of our education, my sister, brother and I grew up traveling every summer. Every other year, that trip was to Indiana to visit the extended Rockwell family, taking little side trips along the way. Not quite as regularly, we traveled to Orange County, California (south of Los Angeles) to visit the extended family Hinkley (Mom’s family), again, with side trips along the way. The years in between we rambled EVERYWHERE in a 1963 Chevy Biscayne station wagon filled with camping equipment! One year we went to Texas and Mexico; another year to British Columbia, Canada. One year we took a mega-trip, from Colorado to the Grand Canyon, to LA, on down to San Diego, up to China Town in San Francisco, up the coast on Hwy 1 through the Redwoods, along the Oregon Coast to the Rain Forest of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington (state), and up into the Canadian Rockies (which are breathtaking), down through Montana and home. We were gone virtually all summer. On another trip, we went to Yellowstone National Park. I couldn’t begin to tell you all the places we went.
In the Peace Corps, I was stationed in Maun, Botswana, just outside of the Okavango Delta – THE most incredible wildlife haven on the planet! My job was to teach people the importance of conserving the wildlife that was so central to every aspect of life in Botswana. In recognition of the role of wildlife in Botswana’s economy, I was also delegated the role of acting Tourism Officer in Maun.
Later in life, as parents, my wife and I continued my mother’s travel tradition with our own children. We took our kids EVERYWHERE! While in South Dakota, we took the kids to Mount Rushmore, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Devils Tower and even long road trips to Texas, toGeorgia, and to Florida and the East Coast. Once in Clarkston, Washington, we continued traveling, sometimes down to Orange County to visit extended family, other times finding new places we’d never seen.
My career provided many opportunities to travel, too – for the first 20 years, to training and conferences around the country. On those trips, I always tried to add some leave time to take side trips along the way, sometimes with the family in tow, other times, not.
Travel ultimately became a key component of my career when I was selected to be on the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Team of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and even more when I was asked to become a Congressional Liaison for the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Caucus of the US Congress – to the tune of 300,000 miles in the air and probably another 3,000 in a vehicle. These two jobs had me traveling back and forth, all across the country, as we built the partnerships, commissions and funding mechanisms that would fuel the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial into the largest commemoration in US history! During the planning years leading up to the commemoration (1999-2003), I traveled to virtually every community along the Lewis and Clark Trail, to Vermont/New Hampshire to help put on a Lewis and Clark event there, and even into the southern states to bring them into the national commemoration. During the Bicentennial commemoration (2003-2006) I traveled to the big national events to participate on behalf of the US Army Corps of Engineers, and to portray Captain William Clark on the national stage. These events were in major places along the Lewis and Clark Trail: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; St. Louis, Missouri; Kansas City, Omaha, Nebraska,
Then, I took my final post with the Corps of Engineers, as the Operations Project Manager of Philpott Lake, just outside of Martinsville/Bassett, Virginia – the most beautiful lake in the country by the testimony of anyone who has gazed at it from the overlook!
So, I traveled many roads, figuratively and literally to get to Philpott Lake. Along the way, I have had a lot of intimate contact with Cinematography, Ad Production, Public Affairs, Tourism, etc. I coordinated and produced an educational video for the Corps, assisted in producing a portion of a national water safety video, acted in and worked with the production team of the Army’s Lewis and Clark documentary video, Lewis and Clark: Confluence of Time and Courage – Camera One.
My combined life experiences allowed me to bring to Philpott Lake a lifetime of travel experiences and 30+ years of experience in providing outdoor recreation resources and working with tourism entities to help them market those resources. This has been a huge part of the re-invention of the economy in a community devastated by the exodus of manufacturing from the USA, the results of NAFTA.
So, it seemed like a natural transition when I retired after a 38-year career, to start a TV show highlighting tourism and travel sites. My goal for this show has been to focus on tourism from the perspective of the visitor experience, skirting the political aspects (trust me, tourism is highly political).
So, there’s a quick look at how I got to where I am, as the host and producer of Rocky’s Ramblings.
I hope this has encouraged you to get out and do your own rambling! There is SO much to see and do in this country, much of it right in YOUR back yard. It’s there, just waiting for you to get out and do some exploring. And, when you do, make sure that you are driving a safe, well-maintained vehicle.
Here’s Your Defensive Driving Tip for the Week
Tires: a critical part of safe driving. I’m not going to try to give you a dissertation on tires. I just want to highlight the importance of good tires, with substantial tread and properly aired. Work with your mechanic and/or tire maintenance specialist to make sure your tires will do their job and get you safely where you’re going and home again.