Laurie’s List*: Five series we love to watch set in places we love to travel

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*Laurie’s List is a collection of things I think go well together, usually with some pictures I’ve taken. 

This Laurie’s List is actually four series and one movie, but hey, the movie has sequels so that counts, right?  It’s a—definitely incomplete—list of the shows we tuned into solely because they were set in areas where we loved travelling.

1.  New Orleans:  Treme (HBO), 2012-13, 3 Seasons, 36 episodes

When we visited New Orleans in February 2013, the city was decked out in its Mardi Gras finery. Most of my photos reflect the irrepressible, celebratory atmosphere of the  city. But eight years after Hurricane Katrina, you still didn’t have to look further than the side streets and the poorer districts to see how badly the city was ravaged.

Here’s a great summary for Treme: “… a compelling series about interconnected characters coping in the wake of the disaster.  Amidst music. In Orleans, it’s all about the music.”  Treme is still a hugely relevant and highly engaging series. And it’s got Steve Earle in it. ‘Nuff said.

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Live music is literally everywhere in New Orleans — including the beautiful City Park, home to the NOMA — the New Orleans Museum of Art.
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Personally, I think Mardi Gras decorations have Hallowe’en or Christmas decorations beat, hands down. Get it? Beat. ‘Cause it’s about the music…

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The balconies of the French Quarter are a photographer’s paradise at any time of year.
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Fun fact:  What we thought was a Mardi Gras parade turned out to be the filming of the last episode of Treme (and how we heard about the series!) That’s Steve Zahn (Davis) tucking a paper into his coat pocket on the right.

2.  The Black Hills:  Deadwood (HBO), 2004-06, 3 Seasons, 36 episodes

Shakespearean in its use of language and featuring the outstanding Ian McShane, Deadwood is a series I wish had never ended. Set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the current town of Deadwood feels nothing like the show, but the surrounding region, which includes Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument, has been one of our favourite RV-ing destinations so far.

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Deadwood is a destination tourist town dedicated to celebrating the days of the Wild West.
Devil's Tower
Aahh, Devil’s Tower. Imagine standing beside the tree in the foreground to get a sense of this dramatic basalt plinth jutting up from the earth.
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The massive and incomplete Crazy Horse Monument. They are currently working on his pointing finger. (For scale: The faces of Mt. Rushmore would fit under his arm.)
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Fun fact: In July 2018, HBO gave the green light to a Deadwood movie reprising the original cast.  Tentatively scheduled to air in Spring 2019. Be still, my beating heart.

3.  Florida: Bloodline (Netflix), 2015-17, 3 seasons, 33 episodes

I thought this series did a great job conveying the hot, steamy nature of the south end of the state. It is a definitely relentless drama, but it has some good black humour. And after reading a number of Florida authors Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey’s more comic tales of panhandle misadventures, I could totally buy Bloodline‘s twisting saga of fishing charters, family feuds, shady dealings and disappearing bodies.

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We’re gonna need a bigger restaurant.
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I can’t even imagine what was happening at Cape Canaveral that day, but she doesn’t look too happy about it.
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Just your typical Florida flora and fauna. Wouldn’t it be great if their names were actually Flora and Fauna?
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These guys almost always make an appearance in Florida crime stories. His smile would seem to indicate that he knows something that we don’t…

4.  Texas to Montana: Lonesome Dove, 1989, 1 season, 4 episodes

I surprised myself by loving Larry McMurty’s book Lonesome Dove, so I was probably hypercritical when we sat down to watch the original 1989 mini-series starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. (We didn’t bother with the mid-90s weekly TV series that came later.)

I can’t say I loved this adaptation, but Brent found it quite engaging and I see now that it picked up an award or 16 (!).

The story tracks the rocky progress of two old Texas Rangers as they drive a cattle herd north to Montana. Spoiler alert: Things don’t go well.

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The ubiquitous Texas Lone Star—this one outside the beautiful state capitol building in Austin.

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Wild horses and evocative metal silhouettes are not infrequent features of the mid-West prairie landscape.
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The remains of the missions along on the San Antonio river are fascinating to visit and poignant reminders of the many questionable ways that the West was “won”.

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Montana must have been like a long drink of cool water to Texas cowboys after weeks of driving their cattle north through the dry dust.

5.  The Alabama Hills in California: Tremors (Universal), 1990

Right. I thought it would be really fun to watch the original Tremors movie again while we were dry-camping out in the Alabama Hills, exactly in the spot where it was filmed.

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California’s Alabama Hills are about three hours north of Hollywood. Hundreds of movies, TV shows and commercials have been filmed along “Movie Road.”

We’d even been to the fun little Film History Museum in nearby Lone Pine to see the models of the monsters.

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It’s not like I think they are real or anything. Jeez.

OMG. Turns out I couldn’t rewatch the movie. Not while camping in the desert. Not if I ever wanted to step outside the RV again. Tremors is still really fun, and really scary.

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Fun fact: There are now four sequels, one prequel, a TV series and 2018 movie in this franchise. If it works once…

We do highly recommend the museum if you are in the area. As of 2018, it’s only $5 to enter and it’s a very entertaining way to spend about 45 minutes. (Watch the short film in the theatre first though — unless you are old enough to remember the Lone Ranger and all those singing cowboys!)

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Fun fact: Django Unchained and parts of Iron Man were also filmed in the Alabama Hills — along with Gladiator, Gunga Din and dozens of other movies from 70 to 90 years ago.

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