Monday, January 31, 2011

Random Photo of the Week: Enter Nebraska

For many people, Nebraska is one of those states in the way. Between cities and mountains, here and there. But when I first drove into Nebraska, it meant something. Growing up in Oklahoma, Nebraska was a fierce yet respected football rival. So crossing the Kansas-Nebraska line for the first time, I leaned forward in my car set -- itching to note, survey, savor all the differences that come from something as artificial as a random state boundary not based on geography.

Attention soon turned to something else: the massive midnight cloud moving in from the west.

I grew up in tornado alley, but the only time I've been scared was that drive into Nebraska. As hail started to fall sideways across the deserted highway, I kept moving forward. Should I stop out here? A radio DJ was yelling, 'This is not a test. We under a severe tornado warning. Get someplace safe.' I finally reached a small town, and pulled behind a small dental office and waited for the storm to pass wondering if Okies were really welcome or not.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview on 76-Second Travel Show

Video blogger and Nova Scotian Cailin O'Neil of Travel Yourself was kind enough to ask me questions about the '76-Second Travel Show.' I talk about why I went '76,' where and how I got the travel bug, and share some traditionally bad advice on how to make videos yourself. Fun!

Here's the full interview.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Random Photo of the Week: Balltown, Iowa

Several years ago I found my favorite urinal-wall art of all time: a little pen-drawn map of Iowa, its full squat shape for all to see, with the simple block lettering: 'IOWA.' Next to it someone had scrawled, with an arrow, 'Idiots Out Walking Around.' Wish I had taken a photo.

I did take a photo outside Dubuque, Iowa, of a portrait of Iowa's overlooked Mississippi River valley landscape at Balltown, a high up village with a legendary chicken shack. Apparently this painting was made, in exchange for a meal or two, by 'traveling gypsies' half a century ago -- then lost under wallpaper. It was rediscovered shortly before my visit in 2001, while updating Lonely Planet's USA guide.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brooklyn's Historic Subway Tunnel Tours Close

Bob Diamond is a classic New Yorker. Snubbing naysayers to discover, at age 19, the world's oldest subway tunnel, under Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue in 1980. Two years later Bob started leading tour down there -- raw tours, often peppered with fiery jabs at city officials. (I enjoyed one in July.)

Last month the city closed them down, alas. Hopefully they'll come back.

Here's my story for Lonely Planet.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

On the Weather Channel

Friday was fun. I got to talk travel -- or more precisely what to do to not be stranded at the airport when snow flurries fly -- on the Weather Channel. Here are the two segments: this one and that one.

Then I had tacos.

Monday, January 3, 2011

76-Second Travel Show: 'Sound Challenge'

Episode #047
F E A T U R I N G * 6 9 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

Maybe the question for travel in 2011 isn't what you'll see, but what you'll hear?

Here's my defense of closing your eyes for Lonely Planet.