POLKcast: Jet-setting with Annette Hutcherson

Posted on by Polk Newsroom


MF: Madison Fantozzi

LB: Leah Bartholomay

AH: Annette Hutcherson


AH:      Go somewhere that you wouldn’t think about going.

[Theme Music]

MF:      Welcome back to POLKcast! Polk State’s podcast! I’m your host Madison Fantozzi!

LB:       And I’m your co-host Leah Bartholomay!

MF:      And today we have with us Dr. Annette Hutcherson, Director of Polk State’s nursing program, and she is going to take us on a tour of the world! Dr. Hutcherson is a Mississippi native, who spent 20 years in the US army national guard—achieving the rank of Colonel and serving as chief nurse for the Florida national guard. She also taught for 16 years before moving to Florida and joining Polk State in 1989 as a nursing faculty member. Dr. Hutcherson was named Director of the nursing program in 2006 and has since been awarded Nursing Director of the Year three times by Florida Nursing Student Association. And while everyone knows Dr. Hutcherson for her expertise in nursing education and dedication to Polk State students. Some may not know that she has traveled around the world and takes off on a new adventure every chance that she gets! So, welcome to the show!

AH:      Thank you for having me! Glad to be here!

MF:      Yeah! So, tell us the general scope of your travels? Have you travel all over the US? Or how many countries have you been to?

AH:      Ooh it’s hard to count up the number. I have been to—most of Europe—although there are counties I have not yet been to. Some of the smaller ones in particular. I’ve traveled most of the states. I was looking at it the other day, after y’all called me and—if you—don’t count the—I landed in the airport states.

[MF & AH Laugh}

AH:      Okay, if you count those, I only have about six state that I have not been to.

MF:      Okay.

AH:      But for some of them I can it see as it was, as I landed in the airport and if you add those in, it’s probably about 10 states that I have not been to. But like I said, most—most of Europe and—and a—and basically, all of the continents, except Africa. And I have a trip coming up to Egypt, which will check that one off my list as far as making it to Africa.

LB:       Excellent!

MF:      Tell us about that trip? What are you most excited about? What will you be doing when you’re out there in Egypt?

AH:      I—it’s primary—a Nile river cruise, and I’m going to see the Pyramids. Which I understand, you can sit in a Café in Cairo and look out the window and see a Pyramid. Which is—fascinating to me, because I don’t think of Pyramids in the middle of a—you know—big city, but we’ll see. But—mostly to just to—get to the country and—I said cruise the Nile river, see a lot of the—really truly ancient—history—of that area.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       That’s awesome! Is that sort of—why you travel? Is it for like the historical—like—

AH:      Two—yeah—two big things I look for when I’m planning my travels, I want either nature—like I love the mountains and—you know—vistas that you can see forever—the mountains and the valleys and rivers and that forest etc. Or history—particularly—ancient history and historical buildings and old architecture. One thing about Europe. I love the old cathedrals, that are just massive and—is just—they’re awesome, and just imagine that they have been standing for as long as they have, and you’re thinking, “How did they build this?” And—you know—looking at—before the days of—computers and technology and bulldozers even—you know—how did thy build something so magnificent and it’s still standing today. And that’s what I particularly like to see. But then also on the opposite side of that—you know—like to get in the—again using Europe as an example, the small medieval villages, the coble-stone streets and—winding alleyways and—just enjoy that.

LB:       Cool.

MF:      Well, when did your travels start and why are you so passionate about it?

AH:      I’ve always travel—I guess some, but—in early career years—you know–opportunities—financially, and schedule and everything else—it just wasn’t there, but as I’ve been able to—have—a life that allows me to it then—I’ve been doing it, and I—I try to take—at least one good trip a year. Sometimes I may skip a year, like if I got something—really big coming up that’s a little bit more expensive you know [Laughs] then I may—oh let’s not do something this year, but it’s—it’s—it get’s tempting, it’s hard not to go. And like—and the more I go, the more I want to go.

MF:      Is there anywhere in the states you haven’t been to yet? That is on your list, that you want to see?

AH:      Probably—South Dakota to see the badlands—

LB:       Okay.

AH:      And Mount Ru—is it Mount Rushmore that’s in South Dakota, I believe. It would be one of those historical places of—you know—it’s out there—why not—why not go see it?

MF:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       Yeah.

AH:      You know—but you can—but using the other side of the world also is an example—like I said, although I have been to—all of the continents, except the Africa, which will be coming up. And a lot of Europe—I’ve never been to London or Paris.

MF:      Oh, wow!

AH:      I’ve been to England—

LB:       Wow.

AH:      I’ve been to France—but have never been to London or Paris and haven’t particularly—and that wasn’t necessarily in the bucket list, but then lately I kind of been thinking, “You know, you probably ought to go to London—and Paris!” [Laughs]

MF:      [Laughs]

AH:      Just to say you’ve been there.

MF:      Yeah!

AH:      You know, cause I’ve been to most of the—big European cities. Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Moscow—you know—but not London and Paris—weird—but that’s the way—but that’s the way it happened. [Laughs]

LB:       That’s sort of interesting though, cause it’s like—you probably saw—a much different things—

AH:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       Than someone who have gone and planned a trip to London.

AH:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       You know.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       You probably got to see—cool things that were more unique.

AH:      Well, I—yeah, because a lot of this—a lot of this cities—I mean yes London and Paris do have historical buildings and cathedrals that I know I would like to see. Nonstardom for example—you know—I’m sure I would love seeing that, but—other than that—they’re cities—and it’s—to some degree, in my mind a city is a city. I like to get into the countryside.

LB:       Yeah!

AH:      The small villages, the little towns.

LB:       Yeah.

AH:      And—again, cause then you get the nature part of it, and—and so I enjoy that.

LB:       How about as far as people go? Is there a place in like—you know—Europe or—Asia, where—people are more friendly? Like, where is the friendliest place that you’ve been as a traveler?

AH:      I’ve never had any problems in any of my travels as far as the people. They’ve always been—warm, inviting—happy to—you know—help you, show you around. And I don’t go on my own. So, usually when I—I join up with a—a group, and so, this will be a small group of us—you know—doing a tour, something like that. And—so this—gonna be, thankfully someone who speaks English, because I do not speak any other languages, but as long as you—are—you know—nice to them—you’re gonna get—nice and friendly in return. And—I’ve just always found that to be true—and usually it can—and if I am doing—a little small excursion on my own or something—you know—usually you—in this day and age—you can pretty much find some who speaks English enough to get you where you need to go. And again, as long as you are—nice to them, I mean I think you know—if you are going to be rude, you’re going to get rude back.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       Have you been to Russia?

AH:      I have!

LB:       Where were you in Russia?

AH:      I’ve actually been to—Saint Petersburg—twice, and then Moscow—once.

LB:       Wow!

AH:      It was part of a—Baltic sea cruise, that included—Ausonia and again—Finland and Denmark and some of the—the Baltic sea areas and include–included a Saint Petersburg stop. So, a couple of times to Saint Petersburg. And—and then one of the trips I took a side trip into Moscow, while I was there. And the thing that I remember the most about that one is Moscow itself again is—a big city—a lot of poverty. The old—buildings where people live are primarily high-rise apartment buildings, hold over from the communist years—kind of dark and whatever.  But the thing that surprised me on that trip was the Kremlin, because in my mind, having–grown up and dealt with the cold war and all of our issues with Russia. I always thought of the Kremlin as sort of a—probably a fortress, and—it’s–it’s–it’s really not, it is a—I mean it has the government buildings—yes—but there’s absolutely fabulous museum, and you get into—the crown jewels and Fabergé eggs and things like that are just—you know—

LB:       Yeah!

AH:      Just really fascinating—things.

LB:       That’s cool!

AH:      Mm-hmm. And so, I enjoy that.

MF:      What are some of your favorite places that you’ve visited?

AH:      Probably one of my favorite was the Antarctica. And my purpose—I said—going to Antarctica, I tell people, I wanted to see penguins in their natural habitat and I saw several different species of penguins and several different habitats—

MF:      Wow!

AH:      You know, on the ice mountain, and I did see penguins climbing up the ice mountains and floating by on the big icebergs and ice-floats. But—one of the stops included—an island—off the shore of Chile—they’re south of there and it was—huge—huge island and it was—this—brown—grass—dirt—island—and it was penguins as far as the eye could see.

MF:      Wow.

AH:      And we got to get out and—and we actually walk the island and—walking along the penguins and their little babies and they were very cute! [Laughs]

LB:       Aww.

AH:      And—that was—that was fun, and then—the penguins on the ice-floats and then included a stop— Falkland islands and—I took a excursion there that took me to the—other side of the island and it was—beautiful farm land, green-rolling hills down to the white sand, turquoise water—you know—and on the beach where king penguins and sheep—living together. [Laughs]

LB:       Wow! How interesting!

AH:      And that was this—you know—it was interesting, but that was probably one of my favorites. It was—it started—in Chile, South America and cruise down the western coast of—South America with stops along the way. And then down into Antarctica—and then back up the eastern coast of South America, the Falkland Islands and ended up in Buenos Aires. That was a really fun trip. And the thing about the trip over all—again it’s—it’s just what you visualize in your mind and then what you really see—because when I think South America—I’ve always really thought of what would be Central America as far as palm trees and sand. And South America is like Alaska—it’s glaciers and mount—you know—mountains, it’s like the same thing we get up north—but down south.

LB:       Right.

AH:      I just never really thought about it—it’s like duh! You know—[laughs]

LB:       Yeah!

AH:      You think your geography here, you’re getting that same distance here away from the equator as you get going up north. So, what you are going to get is the landscape of what you would get up north.

LB:       Yeah that’s interesting!

AH:      Yeah!

LB:       I never—

AH:      Yeah!

LB:       Thought of it that way, but obviously—

AH:      Yeah, this is—

LB:       It is pretty close.

AH:      Yeah, and so that was interesting, just—thinking that I am going to be going in to said palm trees and sand and—tropical jungles. It’s like—no, you’re going into—you know—an artic type of environment. And like I said—multiple glacier fields, just like you get in Alaska and whatever. So, it was interesting. When I was there again, that was a Christmas break trip. And so, it’s summer for them. And so, we were able to cruise—pretty far south into the Antarctica. I don’t know if this is true or not, I know the captain of the ship told us, that we actually went further south into Antarctica than any cruise ship had been able to go before—

LB:       Wow!

AH:      Simply because we happen to be very lucky and get very—very good weather.

LB:       Yeah.

MF:      Wow.

AH:      And it was clear, and he just kept inching forward—you know—as much as they could go when they reach a point, no we can’t go any further, then it’s time to—

LB:       Neat!

AH:      Back out turn around and go back—you know—but it was—it was fun. Asia’s good! I could say that’s—done—China—climb the great—climbed on the great wall. I did not make it anywhere near—

MF:      [Laughs]

AH:      the top of the Great Wall—

LB:       [Laughs]

AH:      It was like—if they had a rail that I could have held on to—I might could have made it to the top. But they did not—and it was like—you know—you—you can only go so far—it’s like, I can’t go any further, cause there’s nothing to hold on to—you know—

LB:       Scary!

AH:      It was kinda like—I don’t think I want to do this anymore. But it was still nice to be there, but to—see that their forbidden city and—I think—before I—I really don’t remember if it was before my trip or after my trip. One or the other I—re-watched the movie The Forbidden City. The—the littlest emperor, the youngest emperor, whatever the movie is—that shows that, and it was fun to say, “I’ve seen that! I’d been there! I’ve done that!”

LB:       Yeah!

AH:      That type of thing, but that was good. And then probably—this—past Christmas, I did Asia again and it was—Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia and—I said I always appreciated—those of my generation, that served in Vietnam, and after having been to Vietnam and really seen—the jungles and—the heat and humidity of that—I really appreciate them now—you know—but it was—

LB:       Very scary!

AH:      It was—it was a good experience, and they were—extremely nice and everybody’s—it’s mandatory that they learn English in school.

LB:       Wow!

AH:      So, everybody—you know—spoke English—it was—it was made it easy to get around and again, very—very—you know—very—very nice. So, that was a nice trip.

LB:       That’s neat!

MF:      It’s interesting to hear about the different modes of travel that you take—as someone who has never been on a cruise before—I just think of—you know—flying in a plane—

AH:      Mm-hmm.

MF:      But so, you kind of done everything. Have you ever been on a road trip as well?

AH:      Yeah—

MF:      Do you have a road trip that sticks out in your mind?

AH:      No, now the—I did have two—two trips to Europe that were what I call ground-trips, road trips. As my grand children have graduated from high school—their graduation present has been—a trip to Europe. And for them it was—you know we did a road trip. I gave—they kind of told me what they were interested in, and I researched it, and found options. So, we got to have a wonderful trip with—across—Germany and Austria with the first granddaughter, and that was a bus tour—you know—with a group of people, and—very nice—it was—it was fun—seeing—the world—with somebody else with you, even though it’s places I’ve been before. I enjoy being able to take them.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

AH:      And then the next granddaughter, she chose Italy, so we got to travel all over Italy—with her. So—yes, I have done—my best trips, I did a bus trip with—Ireland and—Scotland. And—and—and some road trips in the states, but—generally I don’t want to do a road trip unless there’s somebody is driving.

[Everybody laughs]

AH:      I don’t want to have to read and—you know—translate road signs and find my way from point-A, but as far as—you know—the—the disadvantage of those trips—is—the living out of your suitcase.

LB:       Right.

AH:      It’s kind of like—you know—you got to get up and load your—suitcases down to get on the bus—you know—the next—get on the next spot, but the advantage is again, somebody is doing the driving, and you—you have your tour guide—that—that—that tells you what you’re seeing, and gives you the history of what you’re seeing and to me that’s nice, and just try to do it on my own when I’m trying to figure out—where something is, much less what it is.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

AH:      But having that person that telling you what you are seeing, and you know, that type of thing. My preference is the cruising, cause you still get to go to all these places and you only have to pack—unpack one time.

MF:      Mm-hmm.

AH:      You know, you get on board, you unpack and then—you know—you can do as much or as little as you want to do. If you want to do anything, but—sit on the deck and read—you know—you can, or you can—that they have lots of exciting trips and again with people they can give you the history and the background and—

MF:      Mm-hmm.

AH:      That’s why I like—you know—doing those kinds of trips.

MF:      Mm-hmm—really cool. Where’s the best scenery or the sightseeing that you’ve—experienced?

AH:      Probably—some of the best scenery is Alaska.

MF:      Really?

AH:      Yeah. Alaska’s really beautiful I think I’ve been to Alaska four times, and I would go again. It’s just I—you know—and—the—the sad part about it is when you—well I said, I like the mountains—the Rocky Mountains—you know—it’s beautiful. And the sad part about it, to me is when I go to places like that—and think—how—everywhere use to look like that. But we’ve—you know—we just—we—we tend to tear down. And you lose a lot of vistas that are out there, but that’s—you know—they’re really like. As far as—Europe again, the mountains, the—the—the Alps and—I just like mountains! [Laughs]

LB:       [Laughs]

AH:      Because, I like being at the top of the mountain, and you know looking at over, as far as you can see, what all you can see—you know—and then—and I don’t—that’s just really my favorite.

MF:      Is there a highest peak or a mountain that you’ve been on that was kind of like an accomplishment for you?

AH:      No—I’ve been to the Rocky’s, but again—you know—and—and that’s it—I’ve been to the Alps, and they were probably the highest points, but I wasn’t at the highest point—

MF:      Yeah, okay gotcha.

AH:      Like, I’m not climbing the mountain. You know what I’m saying.

[MF & AB Laughs]

AH:      And so—that’s kind of hard to say.

MF:      Okay.

AH:      Yeah.

MF:      My favorite question—best food that you’ve had?

[MF & AB Laughs]

AH:      I think that—it’s all good—because it’s all different, and you have to be willing to try it. At least—you know—sometimes they’re maybe some things I think—nope, not even going to go down that road.

[Everyone laughs]

AH:      But most of time you try—you think, “Oh, this is pretty good here!” It was—when I took the—granddaughter that got to go to Italy with me. I had told her, I said, “Now, don’t expect—pizza and spaghetti.” We had a lot of pizza and spaghetti! [Laughs]

LB:       [Laughs]

AH:      But it was—it was—homemade, unique—you know—it wasn’t—like what you get here. So, it turned out to better than I was expecting—you know—I expected to be having to—go out in the middle of the night, hunt down a McDonalds for her. [Laughs] You know—

LB:       [Laughs]

AH:      But—she—both—both granddaughters know they ate the food where we were, and it was just—very—very good. Probably in Asia, it’s again—you know—we have such a mindset for what we think is Asian food, which is not really—true Asian food—

MF:      Mm-hmm.

AH:      And so—that was probably one of the—biggest adjustments—the food was good—but It’s not—what you think when I’m going to go out and get Chinese—you know—but—they eat like a lot of fish. It was a bit different, but again—good.

MF:      Okay. What are some tips that you have for other travelers or students who might just be getting started on their travels?

AH:      Plan—and plan some more—when you pack—pack and then take out half of it.

[Everyone laughs]

AH:      You always—you know—you always—or I—always end up taking too much, and I try to get so much—I’m better at it—but I’m always like, “Oh, Yeah I might need this—oh, I might need this.” You have to decide, no you don’t need it.

[MF & LB Laughs]

AH:      You know, pack light—so, you can leave yourself some room to bring back some favorite mementos.

LB:       Do you ever look around—like, wherever you are, and sort of like observe the healthcare situation there? Or you know—

AH:      Oh, yeah one of the things that—one of my—my first trip—to China, was actually a—continuing education trip through a nursing organization. And—purpose on that trip was we actually toured hospitals in China.

LB:       Wow!

AH:      And that was very—very interesting—because—you—we—you know, we tend to get very elitist with are healthcare. We think—you know—nobody has healthcare like we do. And to some degree that’s true—but—going into some of these hospitals that—that were—I mean—they’re—state of the art—facilities. And so, that was interesting, and I do remember—that was interest in me specifically—one of the hospitals in China—I was teaching pharmacology at the time, and so on the tour, we had to go to the pharmacy at the hospital, and there were—we ran into sort of a foyer, and it was divided into two parts, that was the western medicine section and the eastern medicine section. And that was interesting, where people who wanted to follow the natural—

LB:       Wow!

AH:      Chinese herbal—

LB:       Yeah!

AH:      Treatments or whatever they could go [laughs] this side of the room. And if you wanted your—western world prescription, you went to that side of the room.

LB:       Hmm.

AH:      So, that was—that was interesting.

LB:       Wouldn’t that be interesting—

AH:      Yeah!

LB:       I do wish they did more—

AH:      Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

LB:       Of that here. Like—more of the natural—

AH:      Yeah!

LB:       Remedy stuff—it’s interesting.

AH:      And—and then I also begin when I was teaching pharmacology—would you—I always look—see, can I identify the pharmacist, and—pharmacist out in the town. And usually you can—you know—it doesn’t matter what the language was, I usually could find—that’s the pharmacist.

[LB laughs]

AH:      And—I do remember again with the China trip, it was interesting to—just walk into a store, it’s not—it was not a—it was not a pharmacy, it was just regular—store—you know—grocery store, sundries, and whatever—and walked up to a counter, I said, “I want—I want that!” And bought a box—bought a box of ampicillin— 

MF:      [Laughs]

AH:      And it was just—over the counter, off the street—you know—I certainly wouldn’t take it. [Laughs] But it was just interesting to see the differences. So, when I would—teach in pharmacology, would always say—you know—everything I’m talking to you about as far as rules and regulations, and your cans and your cannots or whatever—these relate to US laws—you leave the US and it’s no longer—the same story. So, that’s—you know—kind of interesting.

LB:       Wow!

AH:      Mm-hmm.

LB:       So, it’s okay to get sick in China.

AH:      [Laughs]

LB:       Where could you—where would you suggest not getting ill?

AH:      Well, I mean even in China, you—again—you get into the small town.

LB:       Right.

AH:      You know, you are not going to have healthcare.

LB:       Right.

AH:      Which is true in the states—you know—you get outside—the big cities—you know—finding healthcare can be difficult and even if you live in the big city, having access to that healthcare can be difficult. So, just stay healthy where you don’t need it.

[LB & AB Laughs]

LB:       Well, you sound like a good travel buddy.

[MF & AB Laughs]

LB:       Like—she knows what she’s doing. [Laughs]

AH:      Well, that was one of my—my granddaughters—they were talking about, they enjoy making the trip. One, it was a fun trip for them, but sort of learning—you know—the ins and outs of having to deal with—the long over seas flight—how do you—how do you get through customs—they were like okay—grandma’s here to help me with all of this. So, hopefully they will be able to—they’ll get the travel book and can do it on their own. [Laughs]

MF:      How quickly can you plan a trip?

AH:      You give me a half an hour and I’m ready to go.

MF:      Yeah, Cool!

[Everyone laughs]

MF:      Awesome, well thank you so much for coming on and talking to us today.

AH:      Well, thank you very much for having me! And—and by the time. I always tell people, I have a trip plan, if you want to go just [Laughs] I’m not going to stay at home waiting on you, but if you want to go, let me know, come on and go.


MF:      Woohoo!

LB:       That’s excellent

AH:      Yeah.

MF:      Awesome!

AH:      Thank you! Thank you!

LB:       Cool! We’ll may have to join you.

AH:      [Laughs] Anytime!

[Theme Music]