Ezra Erb


Ezra Erb

When I travel, I love the great outdoors, modern art, historical sites, good food, classic roadside attractions, and long drives in a convertible. Preferably all at once. The nickname is a tribute to a wise traveller in the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, who proved that all you really need to cross the galaxy (and beyond) is a towel.

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North America » United States » Massachusetts » Boston » Back Bay December 31st 2013

New Year’s Eve traditionally involves going to parties, most with lots of alcohol. In 1975, a group of Boston artists decided the holiday deserved something better than repetitive pop music, bad drinks, and a televised ball drop. They founded First Night, a huge arts festival with performances and installations around the city and not a bar in sight. It became a huge success and spread to cities across the country. In 2008, the deep recession hit the non-profit that runs First Night hard. Last June, they finally ran out of funds for good and closed, leaving a huge hole in the city’s cultural fabric. Unwilling to let one of the region’s signature events disappear, the city of Boston took over organizing duties. Unlike the previous group, who tended to emphasize high-brow performance groups and family friendly ... read more
Handel and Hayden youth chorus

North America » United States » Massachusetts » Boston March 28th 2013

How do I summarize a trip of a lifetime in a few minutes? Since I’ve been back, many people I’ve met have wanted to know exactly that. It can’t be done; the range of experience and sights was just too varied. In the end, I wrote up a bunch of lists. The second half is below, with post references where appropriate. See the previous blog for the first half. Most Unexpected Surprises: 1. The incredible diversity of the United States. This country has an unbelievable variety of cultures, people, cities, landscapes, and histories; all of which manage to coexist, however uneasily. 2. How friendly people are in most of the country. Parts of the US have a reputation of being intolerant of people obviously from elsewhere. I found the exact opposite, friendly people willing to engage ... read more
Mount Rushmore
St. Louis Arch
Tunnel View

North America » United States » Massachusetts » Boston March 14th 2013

How do I summarize a trip of 35,000 miles in a few minutes? Since I’ve been back, many people I’ve met have wanted exactly that. It can’t be done; the range of experience and sights was just too broad. In the end, I wrote up a bunch of lists. The first half is below, with post references where appropriate. Lessons Learned: 1. I love to explore and discover things. I spent the entire trip doing it. 2. Direct experience provides insight other methods can’t match. Travelling somewhere to be there in person has a much greater impact than reading or seeing a video about it. 3. I’m very good at solving problems. They came up repeatedly (hit in a parking lot, cracked my camera, road I needed was flooded) and I found solutions within a few ... read more
Yosemite Valley
Grand Staircase Escalante
Beehive Geyser

North America » United States » New Hampshire » Weirs Beach October 17th 2012

Autumn in New England is truly special. Every fall as the days grow crisp, leaves lose their green chlorophyll, revealing the natural colors underneath. They turn an already memorable landscape into a kaleidoscope of beauty. The leaf display appears across the temperate zones of the world, but New England’s combination of hot humid summers, chilly dry falls, and range of deciduous tree species makes ours rank among the best of them all. The scenery is world famous. So many people travel here this time of year that our high tourist season, which in most of the United States ends in early September, lasts nearly two months longer. That popularity creates an obvious downside, lots of people and clogged roads anywhere near a view. Decades ago, I found a solution: put... read more
Mount Major parking
Boulder Loop
Ridge climb

North America » United States » Massachusetts » Concord November 25th 2011

After nine months away, being back feels really strange. Home has an odd duality, so familiar I can navigate with my eyes closed yet also very different to how I remember it. T.S. Eliot once stated that someone really can’t know their home until they go away, and it’s certainly true for me. I finally decided how to handle these feelings, with one last day of exploration. Like most Massachusetts kids, we learned about the start of the Revolution: Paul Revere’s ride, the Battle of Bunker Hill, and so forth. In grade school, we visited most of those sites. I haven’t been back since. One of the ironies of travel is many people seek out... read more
Early artifacts
Concord munitions
The REAL midnight ride

North America » United States » Virginia » Natural Bridge November 23rd 2011

Today felt strange, and wonderful. I walked out of my hotel room, and saw something familiar. Not “I’ve lived here for years” familiar, but definitely somewhere I’ve been before. It’s been a long time since I had that impression on this trip. More importantly, that horrible cold front finally moved out, so the sky was clear and warm. In late November, it was warn enough to drop the top, almost certainly for the last time this year. The Shenandoah Valley is beautiful, even with no leaves on the trees. Hills roll away to a long mountain chain in the distance, the Blue Ridge. With the great scenery and weather, I decided to squeeze in one last sight before the long drive ahead. The area’s largest but also most impressive tourist trap was just the place: Natural ... read more
Blue Ridge
Natural Bridge entrance
Cascade creek

North America » United States » Tennessee » Crossville November 22nd 2011

Today, the rain was still falling, for the third day straight. That mattered less than it would have earlier, because I only want to see the pavement on the way home. I’ve seen the hills of Tennessee before, when they were covered in beautiful green trees. Now they are bare, and brown. Today was a long soggy grind of a drive. On this Interstate, I had to deal with the big negative of driving away from Memphis. I had to deal with it before, or course, but then I was on a voyage of discovery . Now, it’s just one more thing to deal with. Memphis has the remarkable property of being within a two day drive of all but five major cities in the United States (the exceptions? Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Anchorage, and Honolulu). It ... read more
Ozone Falls top
Valley view
Roadside falls

North America » United States » Arkansas » Morrilton November 21st 2011

I woke up this morning to a world of grey. That cold front from yesterday had decided to hang around, so everything was low overcast clouds and drippy rain. Still, my rest last night has improved my spirits and I want to see things. Arkansas is something of an anomaly. Half the state is covered by mountain ranges, in a part of the country that is otherwise flat plains. The soil here was incredibly tough to farm, so they were settled by the same types of people who flocked to the Appalachians a half century earlier. Like in the Appalachians, they lived self-sufficient, isolated, and often materially poor lives; and their descendents are still here . The end result is that both the scenery and the culture re... read more
Arkansas River
CCC campground
Cedar Falls Trail

North America » United States » Oklahoma » Tulsa November 20th 2011

I walked out of my hotel this morning, and got a surprise. I figured that by this point that all I would see was bare trees, and McKittrick Canyon would be my last foliage . The brown forests along route 66 yesterday did nothing to dispel those thoughts. Unexpectedly, Tulsa not only had foliage, it was still in color. Wonderful red and yellow trees appeared all over the city. Too bad the sky was grey and overcast, premonition of a huge cold front moving in. Thanks to both its small size and oil wealth, Tulsa feels like a boutique city in many ways, kin to the wealthy suburbs found outside large urban areas. Like wealthy men everywhere, those oil millionaires wanted cultural cache , so Tulsa has an impressive set of museums for its size. Unlike ... read more
Gated garden
Gated garden
Modern museum building

North America » United States » Oklahoma » Oklahoma City November 19th 2011

Oklahoma City National Memorial On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City became the site of the largest domestic terrorist incident in United States history, when anti-government fanatic Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred Murah Federal Building downtown. The blast killed 139 people, an eighth of them children at a day care center. Events six and a half years later pushed this one to a footnote in public consciousness, but the hole in the city’s fabric still aches. This morning I went and paid my respects. The memorial is built on top of the actual building site and street. Like most recent memorials, the sculpture is quite minimalist. This type of memorial is... read more
Oklahoma City Memorial
Children's Memorial

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