‘Center of the Universe' Furious With Travel Writer

Ashland named in 'Don't Go There' book

The Virginia town of Ashland was mentioned by a popular travel writer Tuesday ... but not for the right reasons.

The town, which calls itself the "Center of the Universe," was named by travel writer Peter Greenberg as one of the 24 places to avoid for vacation.

Greenberg promoted his book, "Don't Go There!  The Travel Detective's Essential Guide to the Must-Miss Places of the World," on the "Today" show when he mentioned Ashland.

Greenberg labels Ashland among his "Lamest Claims to Fame," saying, "Unless you can chart the entire universe and pinpoint Ashland, this city's claim to be the 'Center of the Universe' has its flaws. And if it's true, then God has a wicked sense of humor indeed."

Ashland residents didn't take too kindly to Greenberg's musings, according to the Star-Exponent.

"That’s awful," Donna Baxter, Ashland/Hanover Visitor Information Center manager, told the paper. “I don’t know why anybody would say that."

"I think we should put him on the list of travel writers to avoid," she said.   

Ashland residents said they will send a response to "Today" and may make a road trip to the studio to let their feelings be known, the paper reported.

For his part, Matt Lauer said he was a fan of The Smokey Pig's barbecue.  Lauer worked in nearby Richmond in the 1980s.

Other spots Greenberg said to avoid:  the Sink Hole Capital (Fountain, Minn.), the Armpit of America (Battle Mountain, Nev.), the home of the Christmas Pickle (Berrien Springs, Mich.) and The First State (Delaware).

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