Motherhood is an adventure. And for Laurita Portee, that sentiment couldn’t be any more literal – or fun – as she teams up with her daughter Lauren Portee to share their mutual love of travel. Their dynamic relationship is a refreshing twist on travel shows as the duo co-hosts WETA’s Get Out of Town, an eight-part series that airs at 9 p.m. Mondays through May 22.
“It was like spending time with a good friend,” says Lauren, who works as a pediatric occupational therapist by day. “We don’t see each other often because my work schedule is crazy. So when we went on these trips, it was like we were catching up.”
Each half-hour episode spotlights a destination within driving distance of DC, perfect for weekend bonding trips. It features the business owners, chefs, artists, historic sites, hip hotels, and more that make destinations across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia worth a visit. The show is co-produced by Arlington-based WETA and Leapfrog Productions.
Executive producer Jeffrey Eagle saw star quality in the Portees, whom he knew as friends before approaching them with the opportunity.
“I’ve known Laurita and Lauren for many years, and who you see on screen is exactly who they are in real life,” Eagle says. “To me they are joy personified, so I just knew that viewers would find them to be a breath of fresh air. Plus, it’s fun to make a show with friends who I find inspiring, hilarious, and ready for anything.”
Laurita, retired from the insurance industry, credits Lauren for pushing her on the adventure front. “She’s such an exciting person to be around. She brings me out of my comfort zone,” Laurita says.
The show is unscripted, Lauren says, which gave them the freedom to be themselves.
“I’m a daredevil,” she admits. “I like to do adventurous things when I go on trips. In Charlottesville, we went horseback riding through a vineyard in the mountains, which was beautiful. And we went whitewater rafting at Harpers Ferry.” In Shenandoah, “we went ATVing up the Appalachian Mountains.”
Discovering the history of Harpers Ferry was gratifying to Laurita. “I’d been there, just for a day trip to walk around, but never really got involved in the historical aspect of it. So I was very surprised that there was a historically Black college there that I had really not heard of.”
Shenandoah Valley, the site of the season finale episode, was a highlight. “It was so fun that I lost my voice. I was screaming and laughing so much,” Lauren says. She was pleased to see that Luray Caverns is more accessible now than she remembered, with a ramp instead of uncomfortable steps. Both loved the scenic fall drive and BBQ.
But most of all, they enjoyed spending time together.
“In the world that we live in, it’s kind of hard to find joy every day but [my mom is] able to find some source of joy every day,” Lauren says. “And I find joy hanging out with her as well. She’s really one of my best friends so it’s so special that I get to have all this extra time with her.”
Feature photo courtesy WETA-Leapfrog Productions
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