United States


NEVADA’S ROUTE 50: AMERICA’S LONELIEST ROAD

Posted on April 2nd, by Steven in Nevada, United States. No Comments

Highway 50 is one of those generous, eternal American roads that goes from coast to coast (nearly). It begins in Sacramento, California and ends in Ocean City, Maryland, spanning over 3,000 miles in the process. It’s most isolated, most desolate stretch passes through the heart of Nevada’s nearly-uninhabited desert moonscape. One section of the highway is particularly mysterious. Should a driver attempt to make it from Carson City, NV to central Utah, the route will beckon past lonely brothels, ghost towns, vintage casinos, sand, dust and endless blue skies. It’s the most desolate part of the continental United States and traversing it by car takes a certain commitment and endurance. It is 381 miles from Carson City to Great Basin National Park. This is Nevada’s Route 50, a stretch of asphalt that Life Magazine famously declared America’s Loneliest Road.

I made … Read More »



MY 10 FAVORITE CITIES

I love cities. As a traveler, I never feel alone in a city I enjoy, as cities themselves are a bit like people- slowly revealing their personalities, all imperfect and forever changing. Some are beautiful, some are ugly, but none can get by simply on their fine appearance or lack thereof. A great city needs a great personality; something that makes it truly unique and irreplaceable.

Beach destinations often disappoint, with promises of crystal clear waters, blue skies and smiling faces. The truth is often overcast skies, brown murky water, first-time tourists on pre-paid packages, and little adventure. A city, however, cannot lie. It is what it is and it will always be there, ready for you to engage and explore 24 hours a day, in whatever weather or budget.

These are my favorites:

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BEIJING, China

I like how Beijing remains unglamorous amidst China’s … Read More »



10 CITIES TRAVELERS LOVE TO HATE

Every good traveler should have, and is entitled too, his or her own unique opinion about what makes a certain place good or bad, likable or repulsive, worthwhile or overrated. Opinions are fun. I like hearing them as much as I like giving my own.

Some of my own opinions are atypical:

I have never enjoyed the Thai islands
I have not left my heart in San Francisco, even after visiting hundreds of times
I am not moved by high, jagged mountain ranges
Nebraska has the best landscapes of any American state
Chongqing, China- a polluted, hazy mess of a city- is spectacularly gorgeous and worth returning to again and again (I miss it as I type…)
I have a hard time finding a good meal in Italy

Throughout the globe, when groups of travelers meet up to discuss travel, opinions and superlatives often come out (I hate…..I … Read More »



10 AMERICAN CITIES THAT DESERVE MORE LOVE

Posted on December 17th, by Steven in Uncategorized, United States. 9 comments

The United States of America, the second-most visited country in the world, is rather sparsely populated. In contrast to rapidly-urbanizing developing countries, the US been reverting back to a more solitary, anti-urban lifestyle since the Second World War, leaving many of our cities with lack of investment and population.

However, America still has it’s fair share of great cities- even if some feel like relics in 2013. Generally, a first-time tourist to the US may include in their itinerary Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami – a stop in Chicago – and onto San Diego, LA, San Francisco, maybe Portland and Seattle. Those with less time will generally stick to the east or west coast only.

Those aforementioned places are our global cities and, of course, some of the best to visit. But just as no month in China is complete without … Read More »



EXPLORING THE CALIFORNIA DELTA ON 1850cc

Posted on October 23rd, by Steven in California, United States. 2 comments

“Manmade deltas and concrete rivers. The south takes what the north delivers.”

-Pavement, Unfair (1996)

In the fall of 2007, Bill and I were working and living in Berkeley, California. The environment of rose gardens, soy lattes and meatless pizzas was a far cry from our Midwestern hometowns. On weekends, we needed a break from Berkeley’s froufrou.

Plunging headfirst into a mid-20s crisis, we both bought motorcycles. Bill – a purple Harley Sportster 1200cc; and myself – a cherry red Yamaha V-Star 650cc.

Riding our motorcycles in the city didn’t quite satisfy us. Going west was impossible, due to an ocean. North and south too hair-raising; so we often headed east, regressing back into true American farmland, across the Coastal mountains and into the pastoral California Delta; the Midwest of the West.

 

 

The journey would begin in Berkeley with 24 miles of freeway to get out of … Read More »



RENTING A BEACH HOUSE IN MENDOCINO, CALIFORNIA (2006-2007)

Posted on August 25th, by Steven in California, United States. 3 comments

I’ve never had much desire to be financially rich. The simple luxuries that I enjoy are generally limited to the proletarian chic and rainy mornings with no obligations. Six bedrooms, a Dodge Viper, anything first-class/VIP, a young second wife, a doorman, toothy children with middle initials- those things just don’t interest me much.

However, no river long enough doesn’t contain a bend. My lifelong fiscal complacence was rocked in February of 2006, when I first stepped foot into what my friends and I still refer to as simply ‘The House’. The House that Philosophy Built. One day it will be mine.

It was a rainy February in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most Bay Area Februaries are. The late winter may be gloomy and damp, but as a result, the surrounding California countryside ripens from its summertime brown into a spectrum of electric … Read More »



WHAT DO DETROIT AND SAIGON HAVE IN COMMON?

Posted on July 30th, by Steven in Michigan, Uncategorized, United States, Vietnam. No Comments

Ol’ hollowed-out Detroit is in the news again, as it has recently become the largest-ever US city to file for bankruptcy. I’ve spent a lot of time in Motown and I still think about Detroit a lot. Surprisingly, I think about its odd connection to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

Tropical, pastel Saigon and gray, post-industrial Detroit may appear polar opposites on the surface. However, they are connected in two interesting ways.

1. Fifty years ago, Detroit led the world in personal vehicle ownership. Saigon is most likely #1 today , with 92% of trips taken on a personal vehicle, overwhelmingly the motorbike.

1950: Detroit created the automobile industry, and automobiles became a necessary part of life in Detroit; as they still are today. In the 1950s, Detroit was the USA’s wealthiest city. During that time, it’s prosperity had made it the … Read More »



EXPLORING 10 GREAT CITIES THROUGH ICONIC MUSIC VIDEOS

Generally clocking in between three and five minutes, a good music video is a wonderful little escape from wherever we’re sitting. Many videos just feature bouncing cars, bouncing women and sleeveless drummers. However, some take us on fun journeys around the world. Let’s take a look:

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA:
Solange, Losing You (2012)

The city as fashion. Inspired by the colors and textures of Cape Town’s townships, Solange and her video-friends are looking like beautiful curtains while bouncing around at the pool, the tailor, a barbershop and other ramshackle Cape Town locales. They explore local transportation in a taxi van and from atop the handlebars of a bicycle. Looks fun, eh?

The video was filmed around the neighborhood of Langa in Cape Town. Langa was established in the 1920s as a designated black African community and is today both poverty-stricken and colorful, as seen in the … Read More »



KAUAI IN 36 HOURS: DRIVING AROUND THE ISLAND

Posted on May 13th, by Steven in Hawaii, United States. No Comments

Mark Twain wrote that Hawaii is “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.” Of the eight major Hawaiian islands, Kauai is most often considered to be the most beautiful. I’m a rain-lover, and Kauai is also one of the rainiest places in the world. I’d always wanted to check it out if I had a free weekend. As I’ve always found islands to be a kind of soft prison, 36 hours would be enough. In and off.

When I was working an an urban designer in Berkeley, California, I was part of a team redesigning and regenerating US military residential neighborhoods on the island of Oahu, just east of Honolulu. I liked working on the projects, as the many sites had an interesting history, dramatic location, great vistas and the overall project had a social justice in improving … Read More »



10 BEST LOST-IN-A-FOREIGN-COUNTRY MOVIE CHARACTERS

 

10. DAVID LOCKE (Jack Nicholson); The Passenger (1975)

Native of: USA
Lost in: North Africa and Spain

Travel may be defined by leaving one’s established location. For some, it offers an opportunity to also leave oneself.

David Locke (Nicholson) is a cynical American journalist stuck in a North African desert struggling to make a documentary on political rebels. After a frustrating day of failure and now back at his sandy ramshackle hotel, he finds his new Englishman friend in the next room has suddenly died. Wanting a change, he decides to check out of the hotel, but only after stealing the Englishman’s passport and identity. As the movie trailer cliché goes “he would soon find out that he got more than he bargained for”. Finding an appointment book in the Englishman’s belongings, he soon goes on a bizarre, rather subdued (for Nicholson) adventure through urban Barcelona and … Read More »





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