This year, “Think Out Loud” embarked on a radio road trip through Oregon. The goal of this new series — “On The Road” — was to travel along Oregon’s backroads and ask people along the way about their lives. With the year coming to a close, our producers reflected on some of their favorite moments from the road.

Modoc Point: Hollywood Stuntman And Mormon Reenactments

Seth Vincent helped to grill up a tri-tip dinner for 230 people last night. He says you can only take historical reenactment so far.

Seth Vincent helped to grill up a tri-tip dinner for 230 people last night. He says you can only take historical reenactment so far.

Sage Van Wing/OPB

“The best thing about doing one of these shows is that you really get to follow your natural intuition. Any time one of us is remotely curious about something, we pull over and ask someone about it. So when we saw an interesting looking thrift store on Highway 97, we stopped and wandered in – and just happened to meet a guy who used to be a Hollywood trick-riding stuntman. Then we saw a bunch of giant BBQ smokers in the campground out back, and we got to talk to a the leaders of a youth group of Mormon re-enacters. And they gave us brownies! I’m continually amazed that people are willing to share their time and stories with us. It’s the most generous of gifts.”
— Executive Producer Sage Van Wing

Route 38: Gardening On The Edge Of The Highway With Harry Hoffman

“We stopped at Harry Hoffman’s house because he had two giant signs in front of his house: one said ‘Trump 2016,’ the other, ‘Monsanto Makes Us Sick!’ Who was this man who occupied the presumably small overlap between Trump supporters and Monsanto opponents?

Harry Hoffman stands outside his house on Oregon Route 38.

Harry Hoffman stands outside his house on Oregon Route 38.

Dave Blanchard/OPB

When trying to understand America in 2016, Hoffman was a good reminder that no matter how much we want to put people in boxes, they aren’t easily categorized. In an election year, the urge to predict and explain often results in simplifying and labeling, and we wind up with endless pieces all about the singular, representative ‘Trump voter.’ ‘On The Road’ was a reminder that everyone has a unique story and an idiosyncratic set of influences and philosophies that shape them. And they’ll be happy to tell you about them if you stop and talk.”
— Producer Dave Blanchard

Highway 26: A Roadside Elk Jerky Stand Just Outside Zigzag

“So often while driving down the highway, I see something that looks vaguely interesting on the side of the road, I make a mental note to come back and check it out one day, and I continue on my merry way, never to return. This series allows us — no, it commands us — to stop. And that’s how we ended up talking to Brad Clark, retired auctioneer and jerky-slinger extraordinaire.

We were cruising down Highway 26 between Zigzag and Rhododendron when we saw Brad’s minivan on the side of the road. It was impossible not to notice, mostly because of the massive white letters screwed to its roof which spelled out ‘ELK.’

Phoebe Flanigan/OPB

Dave (Miller) and I looked at each other, the questions hanging between us: Should we? Shouldn’t we? Should we? The seconds ticked by. It’s painful to be undecided at 55 miles per hour. Finally the ‘yes, and’ spirit of ‘On The Road’ kicked in, and we pulled the car around and sped back to Brad’s mysterious minivan.
The man was just delightful and our conversation with him reaffirmed the value of spontaneity to this series.”
— Producer Phoebe Flanigan

Route 82: Norton Welding In Lostine

“We’ve had incredible luck on most of our ‘On The Road’ shows. Basically everyone we walk up to seems happy and willing to talk to us.

Clarence (left) and Krag (right) Norton

Clarence (left) and Krag (right) Norton

Dave Blanchard/OPB

That streak ended in the tiny northeastern Oregon town of Lostine, when we were on our way from La Grande to Imnaha. We had stopped in at the one-room library, where a librarian/city recorder said she didn’t want to talk. But, she said, we should go a block down the road to talk to the mayor/welding shop owner. So we did. We found the father-and-son pair Clarence and Krag Norton there and had two of the most memorable interviews from the whole series. We talked about family businesses, what it’s like to be on city council at the age of 21 and why someone would name his son after a gun.”
— Host Dave Miller

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