Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Erie Tour Part 1

I find myself currently situated in my birth town of Erie, Pa. I called this city home till I was 18 and then quickly packed my things and proceeded to live all over the country and overseas. I originally came home for a quick stay through the holidays, to be with family, seeing as in 2010 I was stuck over 600 miles away and was only able to see my family via Skype (Thank you internet). This year I decided to come home, with plans of loading up the wagon and moving on come January, however I landed a great opportunity, actually two, and have decided to extend my stay.
The only reason my mom knows what I look like.
Erie is like all cities, when one grows up within its borders their only dream is too escape, it's not until one has lived in other places that they begin to truly appreciate the unique and charming aspects of their hometown. Erie though is better than most places, the small lake side city has retained an almost confused self-identity as the rest of the country seems to slowly move towards sameness. One of Erie's saving graces is that, amazingly, tourism is big business in the city, due mainly to our 13 miles of sandy beaches at Presque Isle State Park. The only time people seemed to care about having a unique, local experience is when they are on vacation, preferring to let their hometowns turn into an unceasing array of Chiptole's and Applebee's. Lucky the tourism industry in Erie allows us to support an unreasonable number of fantastic local restaurants and craft shops.
Should read "Visit summer...cause seriously we don't need you on our roads in the winter," but that is a bit long.
The Lake not only brings in tourism dollars, but provides a unique backdrop for the city, one which is used extensively in local events which take place in the summer, as winter is notoriously asinine, with the city averaging over 90" of snow a year, making Erie the 4th snowiest city in America, beaten only by our neighbors just to the north in Buffalo(#3), Rochester(#2) and Syracuse (#1).

And that's not even that bad of an accumulation. seriously.
Takishia, who you can find ranting about politics and other stuff at Mountain Top Princess, along with her husband Brian, came to Erie to visit Dylan and his family. If you kept up with the trip you know that Brian is Dylan's brother and that Takishia and he were gracious enough to allow us to sleep on their floor and show Shaun and myself around the Colorado valley they call home. In accordance with the guidelines of hospitality I invited Takishia and Brian to join me on a tour of Erie, Pa, and they expected.

I met up with Takishia, Brian, Dylan and about 6 other individuals for breakfast, we would be having breakfast at a local establishment, Panos, that had been a tradition with me and my dad for as long as I can remember. It was barely 9am when we got to Panos, why we were awake at this ungodly hour is still unknown to me. Panos is a small local eatery where the owner himself seated us, and a friendly waitress took our order. Takishia and Brian were shocked by the prices, the lowest meal costing just $1.99. One of the best parts of Erie is the cost of going out is virtually nothing compared to most cities. Breakfast was amazing, just as breakfast always is, so long as bacon is included.
And I'm not even getting paid for all these plugs.
After Breakfast half of the group headed off to do their own thing and five of us packed into a car to head off and explore the city. Our first stop would be Presque Isle, a peninsula that juts out into Lake Erie, creating the bay and giving us miles of sandy beaches and acres of protected wetland habitat. Most of the park was wet, it being early winter it was surprising their wasn't snow on the ground, so we stuck to one of the parks most popular trails, the sidewalk trail. The trail itself has an interesting story having first been utilized by the family who lived in the beach lighthouse and would use the trail to cross the wooded peninsula to get to the bay where they would take a small boat, or in the winter walk on the ice, across to reach the shoreline, the kids who lived in the lighthouse made this trek daily for school.
It's a trail with a sidewalk, not sure why you'd think it'd be anything different.
Along one side of the trail the marshlands dominate, with great opportunities to see birds of prey such as Ospreys and Bald Eagles hunting, unfortunately their were no majestic birds out as we made our way along the trail. The other side of the trail is wooded, the woods in Presque Isle house a variety of species, including turkey, deer and even coyotes. However we were being far too noisy and talkative to notice any wildlife. We walked to the bay across which rose the skyline of the city of Erie. The city has done a lot is recent years to improve the look of downtown and from the peninsula the results are evident as the city sits marvelously on the other side.

We walked back to the car, explaining the history of buildings on the peninsula and telling our own stories of memories. Our next location would be another beach, just a few miles down shore from the peninsula, a beach I wasn't 100% sure how to get to. We drove around as I eyed the cliff side for a giant staircase, it had been over a decade since I had last ventured down those stairs but their length had stayed with me. Finding the stairs I hurried the others out of the car, explaining that technically we would be trespassing during this segment of the trip. When we got to the beach we were greeted by my uncle, a local artist who uses the stones and other natural elements on the beach to build open space art installations, which frequently get swept away by the encroaching lake. I had never been down to see his work, having only learned of his endeavors the night before at Christmas dinner, and the breadth of his work was amazing. Unfortunately the lake was surging and much of his work had been erased, but a massive wall he had built stood strong, resembling a druid temple.
One of his displays. You can, and should, visit his site at STONEWAVE
Takishia and Brian spoke to my uncle for awhile while the rest of us walked around the beach admiring his work. Eventually he went back to building and we left as quickly as we had come to let him work in peace. I had to go to work soon anyways, one of the inconveniences of trying to formulate a tour. We made a quick stop by my house where I had to pick up some photography to take to a local print shop. Dylan and Takishia hung out with my mom as I prepared for work and gather my photography stuff. It had been a short day, but so far the tour of Erie was working out well, we would be meeting up again after I got out of work and we still had two more mornings to explore the city...


  1. That is a shit-ton of snow. It's like all of the bushes have little hats. We get our share of snow in Missouri, but that's quite a bit.

    I want to see the Great Lakes at some point. Wife and I may have to road trip up there to see them one summer. I have friends who have gone up there, and they always have great stories to tell.