Travelogue, optimist, California booster: Fans love Huell Howser, making him the most searched-for person on NBCLA.com.
Certain names are tied to certain places, and probably will be for decades or even centuries.
We likely say John Muir's name more frequently in Yosemite and John Sutter's name in Gold Country and Julia Morgan gets mentioned a lot around San Simeon and Hearst Castle.
But a name many Californians voice in all of those places, and hundreds more, is this one: Huell Howser.
Mr. Howser, the congenial, big-of-heart-and-laugh travelogue host, passed away in January 2013, but he left a legacy: Shelves and shelves of videos covering his visits to every corner of our state, including its actual corners. (Remember those shows? So interesting.)
Which all leads to this, something that is likely to not surprise any fan: NBCLA.com visitors entered more site searches for Huell Howser than any other person in 2013. The short of it? The California-based public television icon was NBCLA.com's most searched-for person, appearing at number 14 on the list of all search terms.
You're not surprised, but likely delighted, we'll wager. Because the host really did seem like someone we all knew. And, even better, someone who cared about the towns and people and places of California that didn't always get the spotlight. And we, in turn, learned to love those places, and went looking for them ourselves.
Meaning that many a Huell maven, the fan who has seen countless episodes of "California's Gold" or "Road Trip," now happily invokes Mr. Howser's name while visiting out-of-the-way waterfalls and state parks and old-timey candy stores and quirky motels.
Leading us to another theory: Not only was Mr. Howser the most searched-for person on NBCLA.com in 2013, he may be the most cited person in California, particularly in those locations and destinations he visited.
And he visited everywhere from the early 1980s on, pretty much, right? There is nowhere any of us can go in California that Huell Howser hasn't already chatted about, walked around, or deemed amazing.
Did you just hear him say "amazing" when you read that sentence? We did, too, further assuring that though Mr. Howser left us in early 2013, he's with thousands of travel-loving Californians always.
And, also nice: You can find his work at the Huell Howser archives at Chapman University in Orange.