Chet Garner, host of “The Daytripper” show on PBS in Texas, has spent 10 seasons filming 13 segments a year traveling throughout the largest state in the continental United States and encouraging his viewers to follow his lead.
“What we are trying to do is highlight reasons people should travel to Texas and through Texas,” Garner said after filming a segment Tuesday at Bodacious Bar-B-Q on South Mobberly Avenue in Longview. “I am the one who has to wear the same stinky clothes (during a show meant to resemble one day), or I’ve got to find a midnight laundry room.”
Garner and a production crew of four men in shorts made a two-day stop in Longview that started with taking in zip-lines and other activities Monday afternoon at Thomas Falls Outdoor Adventures & Event Center in Diana and followed Tuesday with an early-morning hot air balloon ride with dentist Bill Bussey, lunchtime filming at Bodacious, visits to the Gregg County Historical Museum and the campus of LeTourneau Univesrity and a dinner-time session at the Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen.
The show is scheduled to air Oct. 26 on PBS.
His staff approached the Longview Convention and Visitors Bureau a week ago to inquire about an itinerary, said DeCedric Williams, visitor services coordinator with the bureau.
Longview happened to fall in with the upcoming season, according to the Georgetown team that consisted of Garner, episode producer Todd White, lead producer Daniel Mecey, John Mark Clawson in production and Greg Armstrong in audio.
They apparently received a warm welcome and created favorable impressions wherever they went.
“It’s wonderful,” said Stan Thomas, co-owner with wife, Debbie, of Thomas Falls. “They are great people. Chet is a nice guy.”
Thomas said, “Chet wanted to do stuff over and over again.”
Thomas said the three-hour visit from “The Daytripper” included use of the water slide, going through the mystery barn — “a place where it disorients you” — and a water obstacle course over the lake. “We are all about the adventure.”
Garner and the crew got up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday for a hot air balloon ride with Bussey, who founded the Great Texas Balloon Race.
Bussey said he took the crew on a 45-minute, 8-mile flight that started at sunrise at Jaycee Drive and landed at the parking lot south of the Hollywood Stadium 14 cinema on North Eastman Road. The balloon rose up to 500 feet.
“They were a lot of fun,” Bussey said. “It seems like they have a neat thing going in their day-tripper concept. I was pleased to take good care of them. They offered to pay, which I thought was very generous.”
Bussey said he poured champagne on their heads after the balloon landed and said a balloonist prayer.
It was the first-ever hot air balloon ride for Garner, who said, “We were skipping across the treetops. I grabbed some needles with my hands.”
“The Daytripper” team allotted about 1 1/2 hours for filming at Bodacious, which the late Roland Lindsey and his widow, Nancy, opened in 1968, as the original Bodacious.
Bodacious manager Bryan Bingham said, “We are super excited to have them. The host, Chet, is very easy to talk to, very welcoming. I felt like I was talking to a friend.”
Regular customer Maria Mills of Lake Cherokee used her phone to snap a photo of Garner and said she began watching the show seven years ago with her niece, Hannah Ritchie.
The show appealed to Ritchie, who now lives in Dallas, because “she wanted to live in Austin, and they day-trip out of Austin, and they eat good,” Mills said.
Customer Gaylon Johnson of Longview said he has watched some episodes on YouTube and likes it because nobody appears to be acting, “just spontaneous, real life.”
Referring to the statewide exposure, Johnson said, “I think that is pretty cool for our city. I think we need more of it.”
Garner said he was impressed with his meal at Bodacious.
“Everything they do here is phenomenal: the smokiness, the pepper, the creativity of the sausage, all off the chart,” Garner said.
The crew’s next stop was from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Tuscan Pig, which Rudy and Miriam Kiapeta opened in 2016 at 401 S. High St. in Longview.
Kiapeta said he was honored to be featured on the show because Tuscan Pig is “the only non-pizzeria Italian restaurant in Longview and possibly all of East Texas.”
“The Daytripper” team typically trims down 10 hours of footage into an episode, devoting four to five minutes to each locale visited, Garner said. Each episode also offers stories from the road.
“Longview epitomizes why I love my job,” he said. “You travel to a town that most people don’t know anything about, and you get to tell stories of amazing barbecue, people adventures.”