GREAT NEWS: One of my favorite televison and travel writers, Doug McConnell, has just launched his new Website, the traveler’s guide to The Great American West.

The site is loaded to the gills with superb ideas for anyone planning a trip out west — from the best in flora to fauna, where to find your favorite land, sea and air critters, “moto” guides thru national parks, quirky detours that are fun for the whole family, to some lively food fights such as where to go for the best pizza.

Or if you’re more of a virtual armchair traveler, you can pop some corn, settle back and watch over 14 years worth of award-winning “Bay Area Backroads” videos. Doug invites all fellow travelers to contribute your own pictures, videos and text to make the richest source of information about off-the-beaten track travel in the West!

(I gotta tell you — I used to have a major crush on Doug, and he’s ONLY IMPROVED over the last decade, so I was thrilled when he asked me if I would be the moderator, a.k.a. Dining Diva, for the Open Road Food Forum. So I expect you all to write in your West Coast food tips… including your fave restaurants from luxe to truckstop, farmers markets, nabe bakery, local chef, etc., etc., etc. If you can eat it, we want to know about it.

Doug McConnell has worked full-time in television since 1982 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has created, produced and hosted many series, special programs, and news projects for local, national and international distribution. He has received many broadcast awards including a handful of Emmys, an Iris, and a Gabriel.

Since 1993, McConnell has been the host and senior editor of “Bay Area Backroads.” This weekly program explores the paths less traveled in northern California and beyond. It is consistently the highest-rated locally produced, non-news program in the nation’s sixth-largest market.

McConnell’s best-selling “Bay Area Backroads” books are available in bookstores throughout Northern California.