Don Wildman's Bucket List

Host Don Wildman out on Oahu at Dillingham Airfield to fly Bi-Planes, as seen on Travel Channel's The Trip: 2015.

I like the saying, "Love what you have, not what you want." Nonetheless, here's a list of big life desires, in no particular order. Should they come my way, then great:

1: See a ghost (and/or alien).

I'm not particularly into ghosts or, for that matter, UFOs. If I saw one, it would probably terrify me. But I'm fascinated by the fact that all these ghost/UFO shows never really address the truly freaky side of things. That is to say, if there are ghosts/aliens, then there could be just about anything! Right? Then, the whole thing is up for discussion. Clean slate! Parallel universes, wormholes, werewolves, zombies. It basically settles for me the question of angels -- because why not? Hell, there are ghosts! Even gets me thinking about God. The day I see a ghost -- or a flying saucer -- surf's up, philosophically. And I'm off to find Bigfoot.

2: Learn to hanglide/pilot an ultra-light/windsurf/whitewater canoe/yacht.

Thrill-seeker, what can I say? I was watching the kite-boarders on Martha's Vineyard last summer and, man, I want that, too. If only I could just string together any number of days back in CA not working I'll get me some skills. But then, of course, I wouldn't have a job and that would be bad, right? Ugh, dilemma of life.

3: Sail across the Atlantic.

Because my Quaker ancestors did it in 1652 -- without a satellite phone. Talk about terrifying. To honor them, I will make the crossing. Got Milk Run?

4: In New York, have breakfast in a greasy spoon, lunch at a 3-star restaurant, dinner at a 5-star restaurant and drinks at the Plaza.

Just a stupid idea for the perfect day.

5: Learn to speak French.

Sitting at a cafe in Paris and speaking fluently with a waiter. Sweet revenge for all the awkward tourist moments of my past. Everyone needs a foreign tongue, especially, if you ask me, Americans. Automatically de-isolates you, and that is good.

6. Motorcycle to Panama – and beyond.

I have several letters my Uncle Alan wrote to his brother, my dad, all sent (and stamped) from the Canal Zone. He served down there in WWII -- but it's a murky chapter of family history because the man died at 26. Leukemia. I've been told I look like him. So, sud I go. Noble reason to drink tequila -- first stop, Mexico. Then, the Isthmus (world's greatest word).

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Boston - Charles River rowing houses. 960 1280

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Seattle - Space Needle 960 1280

  

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"Off Limits was originally entitled 'Forbidden Access.' It was even earlier called 'Access Denied.' But the feeling was that if access was really denied then we wouldn't have a television program, so that seemed ultimately dishonest and if it was Forbidden'well, that sounded a little too poetic for its own good." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

  

"The idea of this scrapbook is to preserve the memories of the shoot season. A few years back, I realized that by luck and some talent I'd landed a gig that was a great opportunity to see the world and learn a helluva lot about civilization." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"Trouble was, each shoot day is so busy that you pretty much forget what you did that day before! This became a real sin in my mind and I resolved to always grab bits and pieces of things that would force me to remember the particular experience, that way I'd prompt my memory and generally not be such a loser'as to forget the remarkable experiences I was having! " -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"I cut this TV logo out of Authentic Entertainment's Christmas card. Normally, if you go to Authentic's website, those TVs have pictures of their best-known shows from the past. 'Cities of the Underworld' is usually on one of them instead of the snowman. Authentic and I have worked happily together for years, all the way back to 'Weird Travels' which I did for Travel Channel, 2003-2006. Authentic's a cool company who've climbed to the very top of a demanding business--oh, and they're my friends, too." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"Bought this US 101 badge in a shop on Windward Ave. in Venice. Cool night at the Townhouse Bar..." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"After Christmas break we picked up shooting in SF, starting Jan 9. Nice to be close to home, still. Season 1 of (still called) Forbidden Access is going to be all domestic shoots which is a relief, frankly. I've shot so much overseas in the last few years I was jazzed about concentrating on the American story and getting to some cities I'd never seen before. " -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"San Francisco is not one of those cities I've never seen before 'I've been there lots. But who cares, it's the coolest town and always interesting particularly when you're trying to make a TV show out it. I find everything here'starting with the Golden Gate'to be breathtaking and monumental." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"Worked with a professor from Berkeley who intro'd me to an author named JB Jackson and the whole world of human and historic geography. I always figured myself for the geography world (I love maps, for one thing) but had no idea we were actually doing a show about the subject. Turns out, Off Limits IS historical/human geography! It's the investigation of human spaces as a record of civilization." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"Pier 70 tells the stories of San Francisco's industrial age when spaces like this one were cranking out gigantic ships and machinery." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"This is the America'and certainly the SF-- that is virtually gone now, the heavy industrial state that now does most of its manufacturing elsewhere on the planet. There was a time it was right here in these now-defunct buildings. Just watch, though; in a few years Pier 70's gonna be the place to live." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

  

"You're looking at the old photo of the third Byron Hot Springs Hotel, built in 1914, about an hour's drive from SF. Byron Hot Springs was a place to take 'the cure,' drinking from natural sulphur springs on the property. It was a bigtime resort for SF socialites and Hollywood stars of the Silent Era and beyond. If you could lift the shot here you'd find a postcard replica of the original resort built in 1878 and then, beneath that, a picture of its final incarnation, as an interrogation camp in WWII. Now it's tragically ruined but amazingly still standing strong. Watch the show to learn more!" -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"I used to think those pressed penny machines were a waste of a good coin. Now I realize how wrong I was! Not only do you get the thrill of destroying US currency but you transform it into something new'all for a dollar and a cent. It is'gratifying. Now I stop the whole shoot just to attend to the opportunity. This one I did at the Coit Tower and I've had to glue it three times to make it stick. They're not very cooperative, these things. The paper pocket's for holding business cards for folks I interview. Sorry, private." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"This is a cutout from a restaurant/club called Hillstone near where we were staying , ugh, Fisherman's Wharf. Too much tourism for my taste. Alas it was convenient to setting up a meeting with an old bestpal of mine from grade school'which was great. Hey, Scott. More beer in the near future, many years to catch up on." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"I try to make the scrapbook come alive. Watch the show to learn more and stay tuned for more pages as the season unfolds." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"On a day off in SF, I walked up to Coit Tower'how many times had I seen the thing and never gone near it? The tower was built in 1933, funded by a SF socialite named Lillie Coit in honor of SF's firefighters." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

" Had no idea about the beautiful murals that decorate its first-floor interior, representing the story of California. Inspired by those done by Diego Rivera in NYC (then destroyed). Super impressive; a startling reminder that this isn't just any state in which I live'California's tale is EPIC. One day after budget crises and constitutional reform pass'it shall rise again!!" -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"I had never been to Seattle before this'psyched! So much in common with Portland and SF but a totally different feel. In Seattle we look at how supremely difficult it was to just to settle the dang place out there in the old-growth mountain forests accessible only by water'how determined Americans turned it's challenges to their advantage." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

Elizabeth Fraser  

"Every once in a while in life you get slapped upside your head with something new'or something old that just seems new. The Seattle Space Needle. Where the hell was I?? This structure is one of the greatest things in America. And I am one of two hundred people ever leashed up and allowed to walk the halo. I was HONORED!! Truly. Thanks to all that allowed that to happen." -- Don Wildman 960 1280

  

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Elizabeth Fraser  

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Elizabeth Fraser  

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Elizabeth Fraser  

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Elizabeth Fraser  

man leaning on vintage car in cuba
Cementerio de Cristobal Colon

Cementerio de Cristobal Colon

Parked at the entrance gate of Cementerio de Cristobal Colon (aka Colon Cemetery, named for Christopher Columbus) in Havana, Cuba. It’s utterly vast: With 140 acres and 800,000 graves, it’s one of the premier places in the world for eternal rest — if you can find the space. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Grave Sites at Colon Cemetery

Grave Sites at Colon Cemetery

There are a million interments at Colon Cemetery. It’s so crowded that the deceased spend only 3 years in the tomb until remains are transferred to storage to make way for the new burials. Demand is high. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

El Capitolio

El Capitolio

The beautiful and stately National Capitol Building in Havana, completed in 1929, is currently under scaffolding. The design was inspired by Paris’ Pantheon but looks awfully familiar to any American. Apartment houses next door? Ready, aim ... gentrify. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Fidel at the Bat

Fidel at the Bat

Not even Cubans believe it, but it has long been a rumor that Fidel Castro was a great baseball prospect before he became a revolutionary. To this day, his vaunted prowess on the diamond is celebrated, as in this mural inside Havana’s stadium (but it’s probably completely propaganda). The Cuban team, however, is awesome. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Home Club Dugout

Home Club Dugout

Estadio Latinoamericano. Cubans are so warm and generous, they make you feel as though you play for the home team — but I’m not sure Fidel would agree to that. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Museo de la Revolucion

Museo de la Revolucion

The glorious ceiling mural of the Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution), which was formerly Havana’s Presidential Palace. This is where Fulgencio Batista bolted from Fidel Castro’s invading guerilla army in 1959. He left down a hidden staircase not found on building blueprints. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Flying High

Flying High

If that looks like a very big flag, it is — hanging in the courtyard of the Museo de la Revolucion (Museum of the Revolution). A reminder that 1 governance was replaced by another — and it’s going to stay that way. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Old Havana Church

Old Havana Church

One of many centuries-old churches in Old Havana, this one is near the harbor. See that empty plaza filled mainly with pigeons? Imagine what it will be like when the American cruise ships begin to dock, and you see the supreme challenge ahead for Cuba. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Cathedral

Havana Cathedral

Completed in 1777, the Havana Cathedral was constructed largely of coral rock, thus giving it a specifically Caribbean feel. The pope will be paying a visit very soon. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

The Gran Teatro de la Habana

The Gran Teatro de la Habana

The Gran Teatro de la Habana (Great Theater of Havana) is home to the world-renowned Cuban National Ballet, as well as other performing groups. Opened in 1915 and currently under renovation, the building serves as a perfect backdrop for a postcard shot of classic American automobiles. 960 1280

  

The Cradle of the Daiquiri

The Cradle of the Daiquiri

La Floridita advertises itself as “La Cuna del Daiquiri” (the Cradle of the Daiquiri). Ernest Hemingway hung out here and enjoyed more than a few of the distillations. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Club

Havana Club

Havana Club is the most famous of the legendary rums produced in Cuba. The brand was nationalized by the Cuban government but has since been sold to an international concern. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Club Bar

Havana Club Bar

Havana Club is the most famous of the legendary rums produced in Cuba. The brand was nationalized by the Cuban government but has since been sold to an international concern. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Sloppy Joe’s

Sloppy Joe’s

Another legendary drinking hole made new again. Sloppy Joe’s was a hangout through the Roaring ’20s. This was the mojito at noon that put me in a very good mood. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Don’t Forget the Garnish

Don’t Forget the Garnish

I had the finest drinks of my life in Cuba. They really know their cocktails. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

The Harbor of Old Havana

The Harbor of Old Havana

A panorama of Havana old and new is available a short ferry ride across the harbor. Very soon, you’ll need this hillside perspective to take in the full transformation of this rediscovered city. Watch the cranes take over the skies. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Havana Street

Havana Street

Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is like any great “old city” of Spain, only it’s 90 miles off the coast of Florida. You’ll get lost and love it. 960 1280

  

Hershey Train

Hershey Train

During WWI, Milton Hershey needed a new source of sugar for his chocolate, so he came to Cuba. But to transport his product, he had to build a new train line. It still operates and is still called the Hershey Train. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace

A must-see at the Presidential Palace (now the Museo de la Revolucion) is the domed ceiling, one of many remains of the previous grandiose leadership. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Camilo Cienfuegos

Camilo Cienfuegos

Images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (pictured) adorn government buildings at the edge of the enormous Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana, where revolutionary government rallies have been held through the years. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

Paseo del Prado

Paseo del Prado

In 1772, the magnificent boulevard Paseo del Prado, reminiscent of Madrid, was laid out from the Capitol to Morro Castle. Walk along it today and see what Havana has been this last century — and speculate where it will be in 10 years. 960 1280

Don Wildman  

7: Learn to weld.

Real men weld. Wear the mask, meld the metal. Build my own bridge -- or, at least, a bookshelf.

8: Dive with a Cousteu.

I'm on television because of Jacques Cousteau. I have seen the ocean depths because of that man. It would be a spectacular honor to meet his offspring, especially underwater. Maybe we can take a submersible to the sea-bottom and complete my fantasy.

9: Learn to sew, knit, and … crochet?

How cool to sit down at one of those machines and actually operate it -- or pick up a pair of needles and make a damn sweater for myself? Un-manly? Not in the least -- it's liberating and off-the-grid! My mom forced my 4 sisters to learn to make their own clothes while I sat on the couch watching cartoons. I regret that choice.

10: Six-pack abs.

One day I'll learn to love a sit-up.

Extra credit:

Learn to tie all the knots. Because I'd never be idle again.

MORE: A Day With Don Wildman

Video: A Day With Don Wildman

Don may just be the most interesting man in the world - learn why.

A Day With Don Wildman

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Don may just be the most interesting man in the world - learn why.

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