After St. Louis-based travel writer and radio personality Bill Clevlen visited Wichita, he wrote a blog on his website, billontheroad.com, that Wichita fit the rare category of feeling like a place he could call home and being such a fun town he’d definitely come back.
More than two years later, he’s coming back.
During his visit next week, he’ll give a free talk about some of his travel and road trip experiences.
Clevlen, who wrote “100 Things to Do in America Before You Die,” is giving a free presentation from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, at the new Advanced Learning Library.
His presentation kicks off a two-day visit to other Wichita-area attractions and experiences, including the new Pizza Hut Museum on the Wichita State campus, Field Station; Dinosaurs in Derby and the National Baseball Congress at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
During his last visit, Wichita’s Old Cowtown Museum was among the places he toured, and it earned a spot as one of the 100 things he recommends in the book. He included it, he said in a phone interview earlier this week between doing another interview and some studio recording, because folks need to be reminded of America’s past.
“People need to go back and experience what life was once like,” Clevlen said. “As we get so technologically advanced, we forget about our humble beginnings.”
In the blog, he called it “an entire town that you’d discover in a time machine.”
And he used a time reference when he referred to the museum in the book, suggesting readers “go back in time at Wichita’s Old Cowtown Museum.”
The book is also filled with road trivia questions – and he asks readers to identify the pizza restaurant chain founded in Wichita. According to the library’s announcement of Clevlen’s presentation, the event will feature some similar trivia questions.
Clevlen is excited to visit the new Pizza Hut Museum during this visit.
“It’s one thing to go to a big museum, but things like that are cool. I love stuff like that. You’re standing in the same place where something started,” he said.
Clevlen likes to write about experiences, he said. He also likes less structured appearances like the one he’ll give July 25 in Wichita.
When his “100 Things” book came out last year, his presentations stuck mainly to the places and experiences included in the book. His presentations now can be more impromptu and include other travels and experiences, he said, and his background as a comedy writer helps keep the event entertaining.
“It’s a bit like a stand-up routine,” he said.
Clevlen got his start in radio about two decades ago, when he did five minutes of satire at 5 p.m. every weekday on a major radio station in St. Louis.
“It’s a great opportunity to get some travel tips from an experienced traveler on where to go, what to do and how to have fun along the way,” said Susie Santo, president and CEO of Visit Wichita, about Clevlen’s presentation.
Visit Wichita helped coordinate Clevlen’s last visit and is offering suggestions this time, as well.
Clevlen started his “Bill on the Road” enterprise in 2013, mainly because he wanted to showcase positive and fun stories about people, places and experiences in America. His website, which includes blogs and videos, and his weekly podcast, “Rediscover America,” highlight those travels.
A member of the Society of American Travel Writers and Midwest Travel Journalists Association, Clevlen also will sell and sign copies of “100 Things to Do in America Before You Die.”
Bill on the Road: Road Trip Stories from Bill Clevlen
When: 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25
Where: Advanced Learning Library, 711 W. Second St.
What: Radio personality and “100 Things to Do in America Before You Die” author Bill Clevlen shares stories and experiences about his travels that he writes about. Copies of the book will be for sale.
More information: wichitalibrary.org/events