Ed Ronco

All Things Considered Host

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.

Ed grew up in Wyandotte, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University.

Ways to Connect

Jason Mrachina / Flickr

Groundhog Day was this week and, in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. Legend says that means an early spring. Whether or not Phil’s prediction is accurate, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley is thinking about spring break.

The lead-up to a vacation can be stressful, Brumley said.

Handout photo

The blue-haired drag queen stood in the middle of the street in a sequined dress, a quilted rainbow affixed to her bosom. She was angry. So was the protester in front of her, a smaller man carrying a megaphone and a sign reading “REPENT.”

Just before the start of Seattle’s most recent Pride Parade downtown, a group of protestors came marching down Fourth Avenue, urging the crowd to rebuke homosexuality and profess a belief in Jesus Christ.

Mark Healey / Flickr

We have mail! A KPLU listener named Trapper writes:

We're traveling to Norway for a couple weeks with our 2 boys in August (ages 6 and 8). We figured that since we need to layover in Reykjavik, we should take a few days to tour Iceland. Does it make sense to do this for only 2 full days?

“Yes,” says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. “Iceland is super kid-friendly, it’s a perfect layover, it’s relaxing, and that time of year the days are long and you can spend some time outside.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

National Parks date back to 1872, so it might seem a little unusual that they’re celebrating their centennial this year. It’s because the agency that manages them – the U.S. National Park Service – wasn’t created until 1916. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says the more than 400 national parks are great places to spend a vacation, offering nature, and a lot more.

Presidents And Rails

So who gets credit for creating the national parks?

Ed Ronco / KPLU

The World Happiness Report ranks Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway as the happiest nations. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says his experience has been different. 

“I went to school in Denmark,” he said. “I would not peg any of these countries as what I think of as the happiest places on earth.”

David Schenfeld / Flickr

In the world of global tourism there are the old standbys – global capitals that have been captivating visitors for decades. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says there are some emerging destinations that could see more travelers in the new year.

Myanmar

Andrew W. Sieber / Flickr

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley tends toward independent travel in his own life – the kind where you can break with your itinerary for an afternoon, or decide spontaneously to spend an extra day in a city you like.

But this week, he’s talking about cruise travel – which often comes with a very specific itinerary.

“It’s a great way to travel if you have multiple generations with you,” he said. “It’s a turnkey solution to a big family trip. And often times it’s super cheap.”

Repositioning Cruises

Earthbound Expeditions

In Prague, it’s the main square. In Paris, it’s the region around the Louvre. In New York, it’s Times Square. And here in Seattle, it’s the Space Needle or Pike Place Market.

Every city has its tourist hot-spots. And while you wouldn’t want to go to Rome and skip the Colosseum, KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley urges people to look deeper.

Rebecca Boyd / Flickr

We heard a while back from Jessica, a listener who tweeted the following message: “I like #GoingPlaces that involve more than standing/looking at things. But not an adrenaline junky. Interesting trip ideas?”

Good news, Jessica: KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says you don’t have to go far. But you can if you want to. More on that later.

Wintertime Fun

Brumley’s family has been trying cross-country skiing. It’s relatively easy, but still gives you a workout, and it costs way less than its downhill counterpart.

Deanna Keahey / Flickr

Winter in the Northwest is famously gray and drizzly. And that causes many of us to look for a temporary reprieve. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says how far you travel to find it depends entirely on what you’re looking for.

Cold Sunshine

Sometimes, all we need is a little sunshine. If that’s the case, you’re in luck, Brumley says. Here are some nearby recommendations.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Social media, easy-to-carry camera phones, and other technological advances make it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family. It’s also easy to stay in touch with work. And that can be a problem when you’re on vacation, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

"I see it wherever I go," Brumley said. "People on beaches in Hawaii or Mexico ... texting or working, and paying more attention to their gadgets and phones than they are to their surroundings and the people sitting with them at that very moment."

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Ruby Bishop has played piano around the world. She's befriended some of the jazz world's greatest names -- including Louis Armstrong.

At 95, she's still playing Sunday nights at Vito's, on Seattle's First Hill.

In this story from the "Comfort Zone" episode of KPLU's Sound Effect, she talks about the piano, her life, her career, and feeling comfortable behind 88 keys.

And here's a video of her playing at Vito's, from The Seattle Times:

Thanks To Those Who Help Us Get Where We're Going

Nov 26, 2015
KPLU

On this Thanksgiving, we pause for a moment to say thanks. As millions of people hurry from place to place across the country this weekend, thousands are helping them get there. Pilots, flight attendants, TSA officers, baggage handlers, front desk clerks, hotel maids, rental car agents, cooks, servers and more.

We'll be back next week with more travel topics (namely, how people get lost in their personal technology while on vacation). But for now, just thanks, to all of the folks who help us travel, and to you, for joining us each week on Going Places.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

If you’ve flown recently, you’ve also experienced airport security. And you’ve maybe also had to wait as travelers with a certain clearance are let through security ahead of you. It’s part of a program called TSA PreCheck, where travelers can pay $85 and undergo some advance screening once, allowing them to breeze through much shorter security lines without removing shoes and belts.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Changes in federal law could soon mean a standard Washington state driver's license is not good enough to get you through airport security.

The Real ID Act toughens the requirements for driver's licenses to be recognized by the federal government. In short, only IDs you've obtained after proving legal residency or citizenship (U.S. or otherwise) will count. Washington state has no such requirement to obtain a standard driver's license.

Matthias Schrader / AP

Correction: In the audio version of this piece, Matthew Brumley says refugees are not heading to the Netherlands or Denmark. Both countries have taken refugees in this most recent crisis, though fewer have gone to Netherlands than other European countries, and Denmark has taken a hard stance against granting asylum to many.

U.S. Coast Guard photo

It was going to be an adventure.

Even before they came aboard the Holland America cruise ship Prinsendam, John Graham and his 13-year-old daughter, Malory, knew that much.

Walk Through Famous Paintings On Your Way To Normandy

Oct 29, 2015
Shogunangel / Flickr

Most Americans have heard the word “Normandy” in the context of World War II, as well they should have. The D-Day invasion centered there in 1944 was a watershed moment in the conflict, and involved enormous sacrifice from allied troops.

But while World War II history is an important reason to see northern France, it’s not the only reason, says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley.

Begin in Paris

Heading north out of the French capital, stop in Giverny, home of Claude Monet.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

There are a lot of things that have kept Louis Edelman in his Lower Queen Anne apartment for the past 10 years.

It has a view of the Space Needle. It’s less than a minute’s walk to where he tends bar just down the street. And at the time we met this past summer, the rent for this two-bedroom space was $1,400 a month – cheaper than studios in some other neighborhoods.

Moyan Brenn / Flickr

When the Iron Curtain fell in Eastern Europe, the region underwent massive change. You can see examples of that in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley made his first trip there in 1986.

“All the buildings were gray. You could walk across Charles Bridge and be alone. It was very Kafkaesque,” he said. “The mood was dark and mysterious and intriguing and romantic.”

Today, Prague is a major commercial hub.

Xianyi Shen / Flickr

Hainan Province, an island in the South China Sea, is one of China’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s also where former KPLU Production Assistant Shunying Wang grew up.

“I like to call it Asian Hawaii,” Wang said.

The main city – Haikou – is crowded and busy, but escape into the countryside and you’ll find resorts, peace and relaxation.

Michael Tieso / Flickr

The San Juan Islands call themselves an “Inspiration for the Senses.” Vancouver, British Columbia is “Spectacular by Nature.” And Boise settles for a one-word description: “Active.”

Whatever the slogan, tourism marketers work hard to attract your attention, and your money. Here are some of the best and worst travel slogans from around the world, according to KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley:

Norm Lanier / Flickr

Maybe you have been on a vacation where, when it is time to come home, you think, “What if I just stayed?”

For thousands of retirees every year, that is a reality. They leave the United States and become permanent residents abroad, often in some place warm and sunny.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says that has risks and rewards.

In Case You Want To Visit The Pope

Sep 24, 2015
Vincente Villamón / Flickr

Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States includes stops in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. He is the leader of the Catholic Church, but he is also a head of state. Vatican City is the center of Roman Catholicism and an independent nation – the world’s smallest, in fact.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has made numerous trips to the Vatican. He has seen Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. Brumley says there has been renewed interest in visiting Vatican City since Francis became pope in 2013.

YouTube

Cities across the Puget Sound area are paying more attention to gun violence. In Seattle, a federal grant worth half-a-million dollars is designed to help law enforcement trace guns used in crimes, and pay for more prosecution. And in Tacoma, the city is holding “Gun Safe T Awareness Week.”

Ed Ronco

The photo of Michi Hirata North’s professional debut is in black and white. She’s 8 years old, sitting at a piano on a concert stage in Tokyo with an orchestra behind her.

“I couldn’t even reach the pedals,” she said.

The photograph suggests that this little girl is about to become something big – a professional musician whose talents as a performer and teacher are still respected, 75 years later.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Modern travel comes with a lot of options. From western Washington, you can travel by plane, car, ship or train. You can also travel cinematically.

KPLU’s Ed Ronco and travel expert Matthew Brumley picked some of their favorite travel movies – either films about a journey, or those that transport you effectively to a different place.

Matthew’s Picks

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Courtesy Beth Whitman

 

In the middle of a 7,000-mile motorcycle trip from Seattle to Panama, Beth Whitman found herself stuck along the Guatemalan border. 

Other people flowed freely in both directions across the line between the two countries. But not Whitman. For some reason, the guards were not letting her into Guatemala.

And she was by herself.

"I sat for an hour, angry that they weren't letting me through with just a signature," she said. 

Christina Opalka

Group tours and all-inclusive resorts make getting away easy. But sometimes you want to plan your own trip and escape the usual tourist destinations. 

That's what Christina Opalka does. She and her family have had some spectacular trips. And she says if you're willing to research enough online, and "be a little bit fearless," you can, too. 

Pasayten Wilderness, Washington

Todd Petit / Flickr

Many of the communities affected by this year's wildfires in central and eastern Washington have economies that rely heavily on tourism.

KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says once the wildfire danger has passed, people should consider taking time to visit central and eastern Washington, to inject money back into the economy.

Some places have been evacuated and suffered damage from the wildfires. But others are just in a region people have chosen to avoid, to steer clear of wildfire danger this summer.

Here are some good places to look:

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