International TV series 'Globe Trekker' to feature area's history, culture and attractions"In 1804, when virtually the entire Pacific Northwest was Indian Country, President Thomas Jefferson sent an expedition to explore the unknown territory. This backbreaking journey ... oh crikey."

There were no cue cards out on the Lewis and Clark River, where on Monday television host Sami Sabiti was providing the introduction to Fort Clatsop National Memorial from on board a kayak.

Sabiti and a film crew from "Globe Trekker" shot scenes in and around the park for an upcoming episode of the hit international TV series showcasing the Pacific Northwest.

Sound equipment problems marred the first several takes as Sabiti, riding in a tandem boat helmed by local kayaking guide Ginni Callahan, paddled down the river past a camera positioned on the canoe landing at Netul Landing. As soundman Chris Pickhaven captures their words, Fort Clatsop interpreter Sharon Genaux explains the finer points of candle-making to "Globe Trekker" host Sami Sabiti.

TOM BENNETT - The Daily AstorianBy the fourth or fifth take Sabiti wasn't having to act to follow director Chris Ledger's suggestion to "sound more like you've just come 10 miles up the river."

With the sound problems solved and the crew set for another take, Sabiti and Callahan made another approach, and this time he nailed it.

"This backbreaking journey took a year and a half, much of it in canoes. These guys, I'm telling you, were fit."

"Globe Trekker" sends its team of hosts to all corners of the world to spotlight famous and not-so-famous attractions from a traveler's point of view. Mixing useful information with an irreverent approach, the British program, inspired by the popular "Lonely Planet" travel book series, has become a worldwide hit with an international audience of 30 million. The show airs Saturday nights on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The Pacific Northwest episode will likely be broadcast in spring 2005.

"Globe Trekker" host Sami Sabiti and kayak guide Ginni Callahan paddle to shore at Netul Landing during filming of the travel series Monday.

TOM BENNETT - The Daily AstorianProducer Amy Flanagan said after showcasing 80 other countries and regions from the Himalayas to New York City, the show's producers decided it was the Northwest's turn. In-depth research and on-scene scouting revealed a rich history and culture, as well as a wide variety of pursuits, especially outdoor activities, that the program's makers want to capture, she said. During the three-week shoot, Sabiti will sample some of it with salmon fishing off the Washington coast, windsurfing at Hood River, joining a Harley ride down the Oregon Coast, and visiting the Pendleton Round-Up, Hoquiam logging festival and Mt. Angel Oktoberfest.

"And you have to do something with volcanoes," she said, noting that Sabiti will scale Mount St. Helens.

Like the Lonely Planet books, "Globe Trekker" is aimed at people who want to delve into area they're visiting. "It's for people who want to travel versus people who are just on holiday," she said.

The program, like the books, is also aimed at travelers who don't necessarily go first-class. And each episode tries to focus on an area that a traveler could cover in a reasonable amount of time, Flanagan said.

"It has to be a sensible journey on the map," she said.

With Lewis and Clark such a big part of the region's history, Flanagan said, the explorers' story had to be included, which brought the crew to Fort Clatsop.

On Monday Sabiti watched a musket-firing, learned candle-making secrets, and tried his hand at writing with a quill pen like the explorers used in their famous journals.

"Globe Trekker" hosts often sample the local cuisine, no matter how scary. At Fort Clatsop, Sabiti was game enough to take a nibble of a tallow candle offered to him by volunteer interpreter Sharon Genaux - it was made of animal fat, after all - but the look on his face indicated he didn't consider it much of a delicacy.

The Pacific Northwest episode is the first "Globe Trekker" appearance for Sabiti, an established TV personality in his native South Africa, where his work includes hosting that country's version of the hit show "American Idol." A veteran of a local travel program and a "Globe Trekker" fan, he auditioned to become a host himself, and after taking a look at some of his work, the producers in London signed him up.

"I love traveling. All my life I've been on the road, and I've lived in a lot of different countries," he said.

Sabiti, who said his favorite activity so far was scuba-diving off Washington's San Juan islands, said he's impressed with his first-ever visit to the Northwest.

"There's so much to do in one place," he said. "I'm working, but I'm having such a good time."


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