It has been three decades since Henry Winkler became a pop culture icon, thanks to his scene-stealing portrayal of the Fonz on "Happy Days."
These days, the actor has a whole new generation of fans, thanks to his Hank Zipzer: The World's Greatest Underachiever series of children's books. Hank, an irrepressible fourth-grader, deals with dyslexia, bullies and a potential love interest in the latest installment -- "The Life of Me: Enter at Your Own Risk" ($5.99, Gosset & Dunlap).
"The books are basically stories of my life when I was a kid," says Winkler, who's dyslexic. "Henry Winkler ... Hank Zipzer. I wasn't that original when it came time to naming the boy in the book!" An avid fisherman, Winkler, 62, marries his love of nature and photography when he goes away on vacation. Though he has traveled around the world, Winkler talks about why Montana never fails to take his breath away.
WHY MONTANA: My heart lives in New York, where I was born and raised. My body lives in Los Angeles. But my soul lives in Montana. My wife Stacey and I have been going there since the early '90s and, no pun intended, we were hooked from our first trip.
WHAT HE DOES ON VACATION: Stacey and I go fly fishing for trout. We have to have separate boats though 'cause I'm so aggressive that I fish her water. So I'm banished to my own boat now. (Laughs.) We usually meet for lunch, though. We stay at the Firehole Ranch in West Yellowstone (www.fireholeranch.com) and just enjoy nature and the peace and quiet.
PICTURE PERFECT: I went into an art gallery in Jackson Hole, Mont., and I bought a photograph. I loved that photo and then I asked myself, "Do you, Henry, think you can take a picture like this that would please you enough to hang it up in your house?" It was a fun challenge. I won't say that I'm accomplished by any means, but I have a great time taking photos wherever I go. Then a few years later, I was asked (by TakeGreatPictures.com) to upload some of my photos. That was flattering.
CATCH AND RELEASE: Not to sound redundant, but my whole spirit soars when I'm fishing. The fish are so majestic, whether it's the brown trout or the rainbow. I'll catch one, take a picture and put him back in the water and try to catch him again next year.
REFLECTIONS: I love reflections. I was walking to the river in my waders, holding my Winston fishing rod and I saw this puddle. I kept walking around it until I saw just what I wanted to see. And I snapped a photo of it. I don't usually hang my own pictures, but I blew that one up to 16-by-24 and hung it on my wall.
WHERE HE'D LIKE TO RETURN: Montana. Always. But we also loved India when we last visited. The part we went to was really desert-like, so all the colorful clothes counteracted with the beige landscape. And the people were so vibrant -- just really lovely human beings who couldn't have been more gracious to us.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MONTANA:
NUMBER OF STATE PARKS: 50.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: Yellowstone National Park (www.yellowstone.net) crosses into Montana to the north and Idaho to the west; Glacier National Park (www.glacier.national-park.com); Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (littlebighornbattlefield.areaparks.com).
FAMOUS MONTANANS: Actors Gary Cooper, Martha Raye and Myrna Loy; filmmaker David Lynch; daredevil showman Evel Knievel; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alfred Bertram Guthrie.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.)Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times