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Exploring New Mexico with Deb Haaland & JUan Sanchez

PictureKeith Breitbach, Juan Sanchez & Deb Haaland
In Episode 13, we proceed along Route 66 from Oklahoma to New Mexico where I meet up with two wonderful friends, Deb Haaland and Juan Sanchez.

Listen as Deb and Juan share their heritage and culture along with fascinating historical facts about their beloved Land of Enchantment.

Deb is a member of the Laguna Pueblo with ancestors going back thousands of years. Juan's family first came to New Mexico on a Land Grant from the King of Spain in the early 1700's.

It's a fascinating exploration of rich family histories makes for an unforgettable podcast episode. Deb & Juan provide a passionate look at New Mexico's history and culture interwoven with their impressive personal narratives.

Our conversation spans the spectrum to cover everything from Native American and Spanish relations to current immigration policies along the state's southern border. We cover topics ranging from New Mexico's cuisine and specialty foods to the remnants of Route 66 remaining along Albuquerque's Central Avenue.


Preview video featuring Harley Russell of the Sandhills Curiosity Shop located along Route 66 in Erick, Oklahoma - Affectionately known as The Redneck Capital of the World! Click the podcast player below to hear our complete interview.

PictureHarley Russell outside the Sandhills Curiosity Shop
There I was out on Route 66 having just ended my interview at the Roger Miller Museum in Erick, Oklahoma. I scanned the main strip to see what else this tiny town had to offer and it turned out to be more than I had ever imagined.

A couple of blocks down the street I saw a sign. Then another and another and, well you get the idea. There were lots of signs plastered all over an old brick building. I thought to myself - self, you better investigate all those funky signs. So, I rolled through the lone stoplight in town and threw on the parking brake, got out and started snooping around while snapping photos. I soon learned that I had unwittingly stumbled upon the Sandhills Curiosity Shop, Home of Harley & Annabelle, the Mediocre Music Makers located in The Redneck Capital of the World - It's Insanity at its finest!

If you reread that last sentence and let it sink in, it will begin to make perfect sense as you listen to this episode of the Passport Podcast. In this show, I cross paths with Harley Russell, one of the true to life characters living a rich life along the remnants of America's Main Street.

Enjoy, as you hear Harley share his story of how life's path led him back to his hometown after journeying as a honky-tonk musician.  Harley tells of how fate brought him the love of his life, Annabelle. Together they tried to make a go of it in a town time seemed to forget. When their antiques weren't selling, they sold musical instruments and for a time even sought to sell health foods to weary travelers, but without much luck.

Until one day, as they practiced playing guitar, a tour group from the United Kingdom happened by and joined them to create a rollicking party. Those UK tourists had such a fun time; they left a pile of cash tips on the table, and that's when Harley's idea light bulb lit up!

It's a dang gum good story about how Harley brings gobs of fun energy, a generous spirit and warm hospitality to this small stretch of the Mother Road. Welcoming everyone into his inner sanctuary, Harley enthusiastically lets visitors take as many photos as they want, he throws in a few surprises and then performs his music to everyone's delight.

The Sandhills Curiosity Shop is a roadside attraction like none other I have ever seen. Apparently, many Americans miss out on Harley's antics, but International travelers have heard all about him after having been featured across European media as a must-see Route 66 attraction.

I always hope and even expect to meet interesting people on any given road trip and Harley is now one of my favorites.  I think you'll agree and understand why that's the case after you give a listen to Episode 12: Insanity at its Finest. Enjoy!

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It's been quite awhile since I've taken a fun and extended road trip. With gas prices falling to affordable prices, it was time to hit the highway and see who I could meet along the way.

I first flew to Oklahoma City to briefly visit family, including my two sisters. I was picking up a car to drive back to San Francisco and with a little time to kill I decided to head west on Route 66, or what's left of it. Mostly, I drove Interstate 40 which runs parallel to the infamous and mythical Mother Road.

The famous road originally stretched from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona to cover 2,448 miles before it ends at Santa Monica, California.

On this trip, I take a few detours along the way and meet up with an incredible cast of characters to be featured in upcoming episodes.

In Episode #11 I unwittingly wind my way into the tiny town of Erick, Oklahoma. I spotted a sign promoting the Roger Miller Museum, and I figured what better than an opportunity to pay homage to the creator of one of the greatest driving and travel songs of all time - King of the Road.

I was greeted at the door by a very kind and willing victim to my antics. Marylin was so kind to share her knowledge of Roger Miller's life and career as she escorts me around this small town shrine to its most famous resident.

It's a fun and fascinating look into the life of a man who won 11 Grammy's in his first two years as a professional musician. His singer-songwriter career was legendary, and he entertained American audiences for decades.

Sure, time passed him by much like what happened to old Route 66. But it's also true that parts of the old highway remain and thousands of people drive it annually out of nostalgia and for it authenticity and quirky attractions.

I think the same of Roger Miller and his music. Yeah, he and Route 66 are from another era, but visiting on this road trip was like a portal back to a simpler time and friendlier place.

Join Marylin and me as we discuss Roger Miller and living the simple life in Erick, Oklahoma - a tiny town unassumingly situated along America's Main Street.

Roger Miller Museum in Erick, Oklahoma
View the latest promo for Episode #10. The one-minute video provides an excellent teaser for my fascinating and inspiring interview with seasoned adventure traveler and pilgrimage "guru" Brandon Wilson. Watch for the minute and I can almost guarantee you will start to wonder where you last put your backpack!

But before you start booking flights, mapping your next adventure and lacing up your hiking boots, give the full podcast interview a listen. Then with your earbuds, firmly embedded and volume adjusted you can start formulating your next adventure. I am now contemplating going on my pilgrimage sometime soon. I always try and keep life interesting, but I have to acknowledge it's been awhile since I've gone off on a genuine travel adventure. My interview with Brandon and hearing about his amazing travel tales has inspired me to rethink my life's priorities and trajectory.

Perhaps that's what this entire podcast is setting me up to do. Hopefully, these conversations are also helpful for, you the listener  How about it? How are you doing with the daily grind of work, bills and the occasional fun weekend? If you could go anywhere and do anything, where would you go and what would you do? Please feel free to submit your thoughts and ideas. In the meantime, enjoy the podcast conversations.

- Keith B.
PictureAuthor & Pilgrim Brandon Wilson

Episode 10 makes me think of that well-worn Chinese proverb - The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step.

Pilgrim's Tale features a recent conversation with author, travel writer, and pilgrim of great renown, Brandon Wilson.

I first met Brandon through his wife, Cheryl - we shared an office during a stint as producers at Paradise Television on Maui. Occasionally during water cooler conversations, Cheryl would share short stories about some of her travels. But I was never able to get the complete picture.

Fast forward several years and Brandon is now the award-winning author of four fantastic books chronicling their journeys as peaceful pilgrims across Tibet, The Alps, from Europe to Jerusalem and across the African continent.

A champion of deliberative travel, Brandon shares the benefit and joy of slowing the pace by escaping the "cacoon" of a British tour bus and taking a long and winding walk across Africa. We also learn the highs and lows as well as a few tips on what it's like to walk for hundreds and even thousands of miles along well-worn pilgrimage trails such as the famous Camino de Santiago across northern Spain.

The books are excellent and with Episode 10 we get an insightful look at one pilgrim's perspective on things.

Brandon Wilson tells of how his father filled him with a sense of wanderlust during a six-week-long road trip from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles along Route 66 during the early 1960s. As a six-year-old boy stopping off at historical and wacky roadside attractions while staying in classic Americana motels, Brandon was bitten by the travel bug.

College was at UNC in Chapel Hill, followed by a year in NYC and then Seattle before he and Cheryl bought around the world plane tickets to begin checking places off their bucket lists.

Enjoy as Brandon and I discuss their adventures ranging from the euphoria of chiseling away at the fall of the Berlin Wall to their Pilgrimage as the first Western couple to cross Tibet.

It's an amazing account of an inspiring life adventure.

Brandon's Books: Yak Butter Blues, Over the Top & Back Again: Hiking X the Alps, Along the Templar Trail: Seven Million Steps for Peace, Dead Men Don’t Leave Tips: Adventures X Africa

Visit Pilgrim' for books, tips, and information on pilgrimage trips.

Books written by Brandon Wilson


PictureArtist Nancy Calef @ her North Beach Studio, 2016
#9 Stepping Stones
From Self-Destruction to Self-Expression

I suppose in its way, this podcast, and blog is like an unplanned road trip as the path reveals itself with each new interview subject.

Nancy Calef was introduced to me by Fanny Renoir, who I interviewed for Episode 6 - The Road to Enlightenment.

Nancy is also a longtime resident of North Beach and lives just around the corner from me, so it was another fortuitous meeting and fun way to get to know another creative neighbor with a unique life story.

I'm feeling incredibly fortunate to be able to have these personal narratives shared with me. To be honest, I saw the Passport Podcast being much more about various aspects of travel from finding cheap airfares to rating backpacks in addition to recording people's travel adventures. But much like an unplanned travel adventure, I am now just going with the flow and happy to see where the path takes me.

In Episode 9, Nancy tells us that she's been looking for the "stepping stones" along the way, and it's provided her with a rich life of creating art, globe-trotting adventures along with a healthy perspective about people and our shared planet.

As you'll hear, it hasn't always been easy, but following her intuition has guided Nancy from a controlling stage mother in Manhattan to a Northern California Ashram to an exhilarating Mexico sailing adventure to a European painting retreat that turned her life in a new direction. But we also learn that much of these adventures were rooted in the fact that fears needed to be faced, and personal struggles confronted. 

A domineering mother led to the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia for much of her teens and early twenties. But facing that void, and emptiness forced Nancy to handle her issues and turn from self-destruction to self-expression, and she learned to take the negative energy and convert it into a positive transformation in the form of her artwork.

Nancy's narrative provides valuable insight and inspiration for anyone contemplating life's questions both big and small. Our interview covers steps along Nancy's path to becoming a full-time artist; the global issues embedded on her canvases, world travel and life in North Beach.

I hope you enjoy Stepping Stones - from self-destruction to self-expression. Please listen, like, share and feel free to leave a comment.

Cheers - Keith B.

Sample Gallery of Nancy's Artwork

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In Episode 8, we meet my free-spirited friend & peaceful warrior Jimmy Young for a conversation about his very personal spiritual journey.

In this show, Jimmie takes us down a path lined with curiosity and connections tying together a personal narrative that takes him from studying transcendental meditation in rural Oklahoma to a Scientology house in Los Angeles to pursuing happiness through Buddhism in the Bay Area.

How does a person develop and piece together a clear & profound understanding of their spiritual journey? For Jimmie Young, it's been a lifelong exploration that began during childhood when he attended a rural Oklahoma church with his grandmother who would be overtaken by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. There was also that nearby car accident injuring eastern guru Meher Baba not to mention remote viewing in the First Grade, teenage exploration of meditation, experimenting with LSD, 1960s rock & roll along with two decades studying Scientology and an eventual dream leading to a study of Buddhism.

PictureSF Streetcar on the F-Line at Fisherman's Wharf
In Episode #7 we venture to the San Francisco Railway Museum to meet up with General Manager Alison Cant for a fascinating discussion about public transportation and the City's  historic streetcars. Alison shares how these "museums in motion" have played a crucial role San Francisco's eclectic public transportation system since 1912.

Listen to learn about the past, present and future of this mode of public transportation. Hear the remarkable story about how concerned citizens rose to the occasion to revive and restore the colorful collection of classic streetcars gathered from around the world
Show #7 provides a colorful history and a fun ride - Enjoy!

Click for iTunes
PictureFanny Renoir outside Caffe Triest - North Beach, SF 2016
Fanny Renoir's childhood was spent wandering among Humboldt County's giant redwoods, reading Marcel Proust and chasing rainbows in search of elusive pots of gold.

Fanny attempted to live a conventional life, but the temptation of the hippie movement finally caught up with her in 1971 when she stood on the side of the road with her thumb out to hitchhike around America. Fanny's road and acid trips took her to an ashram in Tuscon, a Pensacola police station, Nashville night clubs and even a short stay at Ken Kesey's Oregon farm.

Setting out looking for signs along the "Hippie Trail" Fanny took the road less traveled in search of enlightenment only to encounter beautiful souls and a few sadistic psychos - she discovered that being on the road could be both happy and harrowing.

Following her dream of being a writer, poet and artist, Fanny eventually made her way to San Francisco's North Beach and soon found a home, literally and figuratively, at the famed Caffe Triest. Thirty-Two years later, she's a neighborhood fixture and can often be found hosting art and music shows, or holding court at the Caffe with a cadre of artistic souls and neighborhood eccentrics.

Despite being in the neighborhood for seven years, our paths would often cross, but only recently did we meet for the very first time. Now, in this episode of the Passport Podcast, Fanny shares her remarkable story with us, and it's truly an enlightening adventure.

Please listen, comment, like and share this episode of the Passport Podcast.

Click for iTunes
To Hell and Back is not your typical travel adventure, but it will take you on a wild ride through the life journey of a man who is lucky to be alive today.

If you ever thought that you had a rough childhood, or the world somehow dealt you a bad hand, then this episode may make you reevaluate your own situation.

To Hell and Back, Part-1 features the compelling life story of actor/author Manny Fernandez.

Beginning in the late 1980's To Hell and Back is a wild tale of dysfunction and despair for a young boy as he navigates the poor relationship choices of his mother who divorces from Manny's father and takes up with a string of drug dealers and abusive addicts. These poor decisions expose young Manny to a life of violent crime beyond what most people can even imagine, much less survive to tell about it.

Manny is taught to fight violently his way through life. Incredibly, he is forced to smoke crack cocaine at just 11 years old and it's all downhill from there with a young Manny dropping out of school at 14. Manny then begins working at fast food jobs to help support the family before he eventually becomes homeless, hitting the streets and becoming an East Bay gang member and living a life that spirals out of control.

Hear this incredible tale of survival and what it means to be exposed to sociopaths, drug addicts and violent criminals starting at just eight years old. Manny takes us on a wild journey of near-death experiences, gun fights, solitary confinement and bruising battles just to stay alive on the mean streets of the East Bay and in California's juvenile detention centers.

(Coming Soon) Checkout Part-2 where Manny hits rock bottom and turns his life around through an inspiring transformation.

Manny is now pursuing an acting career and is currently turning his life story into a compelling one man play. Manny is also an author and you can purchase his books and short stories  and