You may know Evan Lowenstein as the Communications and Special Events/Projects Coordinator for the Rochester Public Market, or as the Marketing/Communications Coordinator for Compeer Rochester. But did you know that he's been to forty-nine of the fifty states?
Lucky for us, Evan happens to be a fan of Rochester Brainery! When he applied to teach “Backroads, Byways and Burgs: Traveling Off-the-Beaten-Path in the USA," based on his experiences seeking and stumbling across places bypassed by the American tourist, we jumped at the chance.
We caught up with him to ask some questions about the extraordinary places he's been to and his inspiration behind the class.
What does the title of your class “Backroads, Byways and Burgs: Traveling Off-the-Beaten-Path in the USA” mean to you?
The title is inspired by my many memories of traveling out of the way in forty-nine of the fifty states. I love to tell stories of what I’ve found on these journeys and want to help people to accomplish the same.
What is the best part about traveling?
It depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes I’m an extroverted traveler, sometimes I’m introverted. Sometimes I seek out people to chat with on the streets of little towns, to learn more about the place, try to find a hiking partner, or just wander and explore to get a feel of what a community or place is like. I’ve stayed in numerous hostels and they’ve been great places to meet other travelers. But much of the time I like to travel alone, in solitude, away from people and settlement. Just me and my camera.
What is the most interesting place you have traveled to and why?
All places are interesting. I really like New Mexico though. There is an amazing array of cultural and natural history and diversity there. I am also an amateur photographer and New Mexico is a great place for photography—the light is unparalleled.
Can you describe some of your photos for me?
This is Stone Village Tourist Camp in Fort Davis, Texas. What most people think about when it comes to Texas is the big cities such as Dallas and Houston, the endless plains and farm fields. Fort Davis is in far west Texas, which is very much the West: mountains and all. In fact, Fort Davis is further west than Denver. This region has so much character, and no crowds. This lodging was unique—“camp rooms” with stone walls on three sides but a screen door open to the outside. For $35 a night it’s a fabulous, unusual experience.
This next photo was taken in Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. It is located just a few miles from a much more popular park called Arches National Park so when I was there it was deserted. I also went in the winter—people just don’t go to these places during the harsher weather months.
Along a sparse state highway outside Marfa, in the same vastness of West Texas that I described before, you can find this fake Prada store, an eccentric art piece amidst an eccentric little community. It is completely random and in the middle of nowhere. Surely memorable!
You’ve been a lot of places. Why did you settle here in Rochester?
My wife and I met when I was living in Virginia, and she landed a teaching job at SUNY Brockport, so I came to Western New York. I have been pleasantly surprised since the day I arrived, and as the years go by I love this city and community more and more. Rochester itself isn’t on a short list of many people’s travel destinations, but we have oodles of cultural, natural, architectural, educational, culinary, and many other gems. I guarantee that if people can be convinced to visit our city, they will be impressed.
To other fellow travelers, what is the best advice you would give them?
Be willing to deviate from the most efficient, straightest, or fastest way to get somewhere. Try old U.S. or State highways instead of interstates. Make time to explore what’s between A and B. Make GOING the point of a trip, as opposed to being so focused on GETTING SOMEWHERE! There are so many rewards that await if you are willing to jump off of the well-trod paths.