Liam Hughes and Corey Taratuta, two Milwaukee businessmen with a passion for travel, will set out on Jan. 13 on a month-long road trip that will take them to Los Angeles and back in search of all things Irish.
"We are both great fans of road trips," Taratuta said. "There's something wonderful about just hitting the road and finding things along the way, and sharing those experiences."
Both Hughes and Taratuta have been long-time travelers and recently started blogging and creating podcasts about those experiences on their website at www.irishfireside.com
"There's something very satisfying about sharing experiences. And now with e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and video casting, we can quickly post and get feedback," Taratuta said. "The audience can play such an active role in what is going on."
The website features a landing page dedicated to the Irish-American road trip. Hughes and Taratuta have decided to let the public help plan their trip, which will roughly follow Route 66.
Visitors to the site can write in and suggest stopping places for them along the way as they travel across the country in a Toyota Sienna minivan. So far, they have been asked to make Irish oatmeal soap, play the Celtic harp, retrace the steps of gold-rushing Irish-Americans and stop in to enjoy a pint of stout or a cup of tea with their fans.
"This trip is about Irish-Americans past and present, and we're looking forward to getting to know these people," Hughes said.
Hughes splits his time between his jewelry producing business in Milwaukee and hosting guests at his cottage in Tipperary, Ireland.
Taratuta is a freelance writer, designer and new media consultant in the Milwaukee area. "I have been involved with Discovery World for over a decade. There, I've worked with the exhibits team, taught new media courses and helped design new programs. It's the perfect environment for someone who wants to do this kind of stuff," he said.
The idea for the trip came about after their flight to California was cancelled, and gas prices began to fall, Taratuta said. In addition, the two had a reliable vehicle and blog traffic on their website had nearly doubled since its formation. The two had an "avalanche of support," he added.
"We are approaching the road trip as a bit of an experiment," Hughes said. "One part is to see what we can find, another part is finding interesting ways to tell the stories of what we find, and yet another part is how to make all of the technology work for us."
"We just want to have fun and share our experiences," Taratuta said. "We want to let those people who are chained to their desks know that there is a great big world out there, and it's not off limits."