2022 February Featured Journalist of the Month: Kathleen Walls

Kathleen Walls is the publisher (and writer for many of the articles) of “American Roads and Global Highways”, the Ezine for anyone who travels. Kathleen is also a writer of fiction books, non-fiction books, and travel books.

Her works include Georgias Ghostly Getaways, Finding Floridas Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts: Haunted Historic Hotels in the Southeast, the Wild About Florida series, and more. Kathleen has also been published in “Georgia Magazine,” London, England’s “Country Music People,” and many others.

1. What got you into travel writing?
Way back in the late 1990s, I was doing a lot of RVing with my little dog. I went to a small free campground on Lake Seminole on the Florida Georgia border called River Junction. I was so impressed with the campground I tried writing a story for one of the Good Sam magazines, Trailer LIfe. It got accepted and I was hooked. Next, was a story about why Florida state parks did not allow dogs. That helped change the rules so now dogs are welcomed at almost all Florida state parks.

2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
Setting up trips and squeezing as many interesting places in a trip as possible.

3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
That’s pretty equal between my camera and my laptop. I don’t like to take phone photos usually.

4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
The most unusual experience was when I was snorkeling in Crystal River, Florida. I don’t usually snorkel and am a little uncomfortable underwater. I came out of the water to adjust my goggles and when I jumped back in, I landed underwater between a mother and baby manatee. I was so close I could reach out both hands and touch each one at the same time. They could have crushed me but were so gentle and just swam nearby for a few minutes.

My most memorable experience was when I met Lum York in Montgomery at the Hank Williams Museum back in 2002. I’m a big music fan and Lum York had played bass fiddle in Hank Williams’s original Drifting Cowboys band. He was gracious and granted me an interview, we phoned back and forth several times, and he sent me several personal pictures he had from his days in the band. He went on to play with so many other great Country bands like Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, and others. Such a sweet gentleman. I sold my first international article to County Music People in London on that interview.

5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
As I wrote more travel stories and met other travel writers, some of them told me about the benefits of NATJA. I believe Christine Tibbitts was the first.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
I would say it’s not something you do for the money. It’s like going someplace you enjoy, and telling your friends all about it. Especially the little hidden gems tourists miss.

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