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About the Author
Gary McKechnie

Gary McKechnie
  • Entertaining Media Guest
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  • Featured in USA Today, Southern Living, Orlando Sentinel, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, Dallas Morning Herald, Southwest Airlines, Lake & Sumter Style, Orlando magazine, Road Trip, CNN, CBS radio and newspapers and magazines across America.
  • Two-time Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award Winner
  • Benjamin Franklin Award Winner
  • Cunard Line (Queen Mary 2) Insights Series Speaker
  • Booklist Selected Author
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An Entertaining Presenter

Having followed in the footsteps of Charles Kuralt, Gary's own epic travels have given him an unparalleled education in our nation's history, culture, and pastimes. Visit AEI Speakers to arrange for Gary to share with your group fascinating stories of American humor, heroism, and inspiration.

READ: Gary's Road Trips

Prairie Hog
Vacationing for a Living

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Pacific Coast,
Alaska & Hawaii

Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington

Pacific Coast, Alaska & Hawaii Highlights

Iditarod
THE IDITAROD
Alaska

There are a lot of tough sports out there, but I doubt there’s any tougher than the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Every day boxers can go fifteen rounds, wrestlers can pin an opponent, and athletes complete triathlons-- but not everyone can finish the Iditarod. In fact, more people have climbed Mount Everest than have ever wrapped up this race. Maybe that explains why it’s an America legend.

Rose Bowl
ROSE BOWL
Pasadena, California

Come New Year’s Day some of us have just three things on our to-do list: Sober up, start the diet, and watch the Rose Bowl. Of the three, watching America’s oldest college bowl game is easily the most enjoyable – and exciting.

Yosemite National Park
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
California

In the late ‘60s, a sci-fi show called ‘Land of the Giants’ followed space travelers from earth who landed on an alternate earth where everything was twelve times normal size. That’s how you may feel in Yosemite. Everything – the trees, the mountains, the waterfalls –seems abnormally huge and you’ll be thankful that it’s all right here in America -- and that you’re right here in Yosemite.

Beverly Hills
BEVERLY HILLS
California

Of all the cities in the nation that exude a sense of flair, I’m pretty certain that Beverly Hills is the most exudingest. Even if you’ve never been to Beverly Hills the name itself is enough to ignite images of beautiful people, Spanish-Mediterranean mansions, Grecian columns surrounding crystal blue swimming pools, and towering palms standing sentinel over wide avenues. Guess what? They’re really here.

Golden Gate Bridge
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
San Francisco, California

The loveliest bridges in America are the ones that seem to be in the proper place. Covered bridges are right at home in New England, and there’s nowhere else the sturdy Brooklyn Bridge should be than crossing the wide East River. San Francisco’s breathtaking Golden Gate Bridge does even better. In addition to being in the right place, it’s a masterpiece of design, style, form, and function.

Death Valley
DEATH VALLEY
California

Death Valley.

Even the name is stark. It conveys visions of lost prospectors stumbling toward a mirage, bleached cow skulls half-buried in the sand, and lonely miles of eerie emptiness. The Valley, though, is not completely empty or desolate. What it is, is a wondrous place that will offer a graphic lesson in proportion.

It is immense, and you are not.

Space Needle
SPACE NEEDLE
Seattle, Washington

When directors enter film school, I bet one of the first things they learn is that nifty little trick about setting a scene. The Eiffel Tower tells the audience the action is in Paris, Big Ben means the scene’s in London, the State of Liberty is used for New York, and the St. Louis Ar— well, you get the picture. So when you watch Frasier, Grey’s Anatomy, or Sleepless in Seattle, what do directors show? Right. The Space Needle.

Pearl Harbor
PEARL HARBOR
Island of Oahu, Hawaii

Hours after Japanese aircraft and submarines attacked the bulk of America’s Pacific Fleet, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had it right. He knew that December 7th, 1941, would be forever remembered as a “date which will live in infamy.”

No matter how many years will come around, the bombs and bullets that shattered the stillness of that quiet Sunday morning will forever mark December 7th as Pearl Harbor Day.

Pearl Harbor
LUAU
Hawaii

Given a choice to move to Hawaii, wrap ourselves in sarongs, wear leis, drink coconut milk, and hang out at a luau, most of us would probably quit work and catch the first steamship west. Well, we do have that choice because luaus are still a part of Hawaiian culture. But before you submit your resignation, learn a bit about their history and presentation. After that, you can tell your boss aloha.

Tinkerbell at Disneyland
DISNEYLAND
Anaheim, California

Parents sometimes have those awkward moments when they take their kids to a place they recall as fun and amusing and find it is now boring and decrepit. The kids are disappointed, and the parents feel old.

Walt Disney was a parent who wanted time to stand still. He wanted to create a place that captured the memories of his youth; a place where parents and kids could enjoy a day... together.

And so he built Disneyland.

Star on Hollywood Blvd.
ACADEMY AWARDS
Hollywood, California

One evening each February, a billion people around the world people (it’s always a billion) stay home from the movies to watch television. What are they watching? They’re watching a television show about the movies. Does it really matter to us who won for Best Sound Mixing or what came in first in the Best Foreign Language Film? Not necessarily, but for a few hours at leas,  the entire nation is riveted to the tube and privy to a world of limousines, paparazzi, evening gowns, glamour... and suspense.

San Francisco Cable Car
CABLE CARS
San Francisco, California

There’s something quite pleasing about San Francisco’s cable cars. There’s tradition for one. They were named a National Historic Landmark in 1964. But there’s something more. Maybe it’s the sense of determination these squat little cars display. When they scale some of the San Francisco’s most demanding hills they seem to achieve the impossible and we, as Americans, can take pride in their accomplishment. Could that be it?

Nah. We just like them because they’re so darn cute.

Napa Valley
NAPA VALLEY
California

I’ve been to many places in America, but I can’t recall any as fertile and picturesque as Napa Valley. Rolling in on a motorcycle I noticed there were hills soft and low, green creeks and drooping brown trees and pumpkin patches and groves bursting with almonds, avocados, and black walnuts. It was like Eden. I remember a fresh and fragrant aroma of nut trees, strawberries, flowers, and the grapes. Miles and miles and miles of grapes.