Wednesday, August 7, 2013

First Stop: Erie, Pennsylvania

August 3–August 6, 2013

ROADS have been a different kind of place for me and my family. Living in a car for a continues period of days demands a different life style and another level of interactions between those who are stuck together for a good amount of time. The roads have given us lots of memories—mostly good ones, and a few bad ones—and have though are hard lessons. The best part, though, is that any of us has had many fresh experiences because of this world-wide mesh of pavements, connecting many A's to a whole lot of B's.

For the two and a half year that I lived in NYC area, I never thought I would leave the area on a bus—until last Saturday. The city has a lot to offer, but also takes a lot in return, and that was enough for me, for now. As the new smartphone and Google Glass made me start taking photos every day again—after like five years—I decided to jump on a bus and go visit the country: the nature, the cities, the people; everything that we tend to forget about, living in a megacity.

Rode from Hoboken to NYC on Bobo

Then the L line: to the East Village

And drinks and dinner at Nai Tapas Bar

Packing everything—tangible and non-tangible—in six days and nights, I jumped on an overnight bus on a Friday night, after saying goodbye to my dearest friends. It was too cold in the bus (but we had fresh air, at least!), and since it was headed to Toronto, I had to make sure I'm not falling sleep too deep so I miss my stop: Buffalo, NY. With a 30-minute lay over, caught the bus to Erie, PA, where I've been staying with a distant family for four days now.

Erie is an average-size town with a small downtown and a huge beautiful suburban area around it. Most people come from blue collar families, but like the rest of the country, it's changing toward becoming a white collar majority. I had a quick tour of the Presque Isle state park—which is the main attraction of the town—last year, so decided to stay home with family and in the downtown this time—experiencing a local life-style.

Just a few minutes after I get to Erie, walking toward the downtown

Running in the suburbs

First dinner: awesome steaks!

A nice sofa, power plus and wifi is all I need these days.

The town is very calm. So calm that a little road project makes many people angry of the disruptions.

And those who know me would have guess that I'm sitting in a Starbucks shop as I'm writing this. Good or bad, there are not many other options for a traveler needing a little space to work in. For the nights, I'm trying to stick with CouchSurfing as much as possible, as I would get to meet cool people this way. If CS doesn't work, I will try Airbnb, which is kind of the second best option. Hope I don't have to get to a hotel room—oh, I hate those damn cells!

And regarding the Google Glass experience, like in NYC area many people stare to your face (well, that's expected) but unlike there, they rarely come over and talk to you. There was just one young girl with her mother who said something and I let her try it out; but, since her mother was feeling uncomfortable with the situation, I didn't ask her to let me record her experience. Hope I can get something here before I leave Erie.

The last day in Erie came with some nice surprises; the best one: SKREBNESKI exhibition at the Erie Art Museum. Victor Skrebneski is apparently the one who took that well-known shot of Francois Truffaut, one of my heros.

Francois Truffaut, 1981

The Letter E

Aly and Cecilia, 1991

Iman and David, 1991

Bette Davis, 1971

Another nice find at the museum was HIGHERGLYPHICS, a set of large-scale vinyl installations. And there's lots of goodies for sale on their Etsy shop.

The Erie waterfront is not very developed, but is really calming. Had a short walk there and head to the best Italian bar in town: the Tap House.

In the evening, I hit the road again, for Chicago. Here's the Google Map version of the anticipated itinerary for this trip.

P.S. Most of the photos are #throughglass. The ones with the wide aspect-ratio are on a brand new Galaxy S4 Active from AT&T, which apparently does NOT support bluetooth tethering for the Glass! So now I'm having a huge bone to pick with AT&T when I get to my new home in SF bay area!


  1. This is my hometown, currently residing in LA for the last 4 years. It's interesting to get an outsider's take in Erie. Good season to visit too, although I really love it in the fall time with all the leaves changing. The Erie Art Museum is a nice gem, you should ask if you roll through again to meet a local artist there, Fran Shanz. He is an experience unto himself! and makes art from discarded items.

  2. Great post Ben, looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip. I have to say that I'm somewhat jealous - the view from our office is great but it's so good to go see new places! Hope you're having fun

  3. @victoria, @pete: Glad to hear you're enjoying it. :)

    I'm getting the photos from Chicago uploaded and will be publish the next post in a couple of hours.