Winter Wanderlust: Travel worldwide without leaving town

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Christopher Overman loves stories. And that’s why he’s been helping travelers share theirs for more than a decade through Winter Wanderlust.

“For me, it’s always come down to storytelling,” Overman said of the weekly travelogue series held in January and February.

“The story is the main thing.”

The lecture series was originally founded 30 years ago by Michael Liss, an adventure traveler who died in 1996.

Over the years, the intent of the program has changed; originally, the lectures were more focused on adventure travel, with more extreme explorations, but the series has evolved into more of what Overman would call a travelogue series.

“I picked the series up when I ran the local hostel,” Overman said. “I was hearing people’s travel stories all the time, and it seemed like a good fit.” At that time, the series was copresented with the Jefferson Trails Coalition.

Each series features Jefferson County speakers. The 2017 season gets underway on Friday, Jan. 20, with a presentation by Sue Milliken and Kelly Dodson of Far Reaches Farm rare-plant nursery, who talk about their botanical plant-hunting journey across China. The series of six Friday-evening lectures all take place 7 p.m. at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave.

“It’s a community gathering,” Overman said of the talks, which draw about 100 people and have a devoted following. One presentation on the Camino de Santiago in Spain had people bursting out the doors. “I have little idea what is going to catch people,” Overman said.

“The speakers are from here; the audience is from here – they know each other, it’s a very shared community.”

STRANGE TO LECTURE

One popular speaker is Ron Strange, who is presenting a Feb. 17 lecture on Scotland.

“It’s been great – the last couple of times I did it, we almost filled Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship – people seem to be interested in Scotland,” Strange said of past lectures he’s done on his adventures in that country.

Strange’s upcoming lecture follows his trek along the West Highland Way, designated as Scotland’s first official long-distance footpath.

In his presentations, Strange shares stories about Scottish history, literature and culture, and current-day life in that nation.

“It’s about hearing other people’s stories, and how they connected with the landscape, the people and their culture, and the food,” Overman said.

Overman encourages anyone to apply for future series. “You don’t have to be a professional speaker – just have a desire to share the rewards of your travels – new perspectives, understandings, and the endless facets of beauty offered by humans and nature.”

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