Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

Posts by Alyssa Karas (view all)

Twain trip’s low-point: Theft in San Francisco

During our short stop in San Francisco last Wednesday, the van’s passenger-side window was shattered, and all of our stuff was stolen. Or more accurately, not all of our stuff, but two laptops, a beautiful Panasonic … Read more >>

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!

Today is Samuel Clemens’ 176th birthday. And, consequently, another reason for us to order dessert. Alyssa

Trip update: We’ve recalculated our estimated distance

Original estimates pegged the Twain Trip as a 9,000-mile journey. Laughable! Our odometer probably knew this from the beginning, but 9,000 miles is much too conservative for a three-month road trip. We’ve hit 8,500 miles, and … Read more >>

Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Merlene Davis pessimistic about true equality

On a Friday afternoon, Merlene Davis is playfully cussing out John Carroll, her former editor. We’re in a cold first-floor conference room of the Lexington Herlad-Leader, and Carroll had recommended we talk to Davis during our … Read more >>

Culinary delights in Iowa

In Iowa, carrot cake and steak coexist so easily. How Midwestern. Alyssa

An exclusive peek of Stormfield, Twain’s last home

Mark Twain lived his last years at Stormfield, an isolated Italianate villa in Redding, Conn. Twain bought the expansive property sight unseen and asked not to be saddled with the construction plans. All he wanted was … Read more >>

Transgender activist Gunner Scott advises us on how to respectfully report on the transgender community

At first, transgender political activist Gunner Scott hesitated to give us an interview. The media so often bungle trans coverage that it’s not hard to understand why. Take Rita Hester’s case, for example, which continues to … Read more >>

Scholar Kerry Driscoll investigates Twain’s lingering prejudice against Indians

Kerry Driscoll was up-front with us: “I’m a bonafide Twainiac.” Driscoll is an English professor at St. Joseph’s College in West Hartford, and she’s spent the last 10 years working on a book about Mark Twain’s … Read more >>

Journalism professor Ed Alwood questions current gay rights movement: ‘We come across as clowns’

The Saturday morning we went to see journalism professor Ed Alwood at Quinnipiac University, it happened to be parents’ weekend and the campus was abuzz with activity—music playing, lots of hand-drawn cardboard signs, mothers and fathers … Read more >>

Read about us somewhere other than!

In case you were wondering about the fabulously exciting inner-workings of the Twain Trip, Northwestern publication NU Intel did a little piece on us. “A cross-country road trip in a crowded van might conjure images of … Read more >>

Elmira Correctional Facility advocates “relaxed control” of inmates

On a sunny day, the placement of the Elmira Correctional Facility seems inappropriate for a maximum security prison. If you make it to the top of several very steep flights of stairs, you’re rewarded with several … Read more >>

Occupy Wall Street: Scenes from a sleepy protest

One thing about the Occupy Wall Street protest in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park: Don’t visit too early. Like, before 2 p.m. We made that mistake last week and arrived around 11 a.m. Everyone was still sleeping, … Read more >>

Buffalo News newsroom aims for diversity

“Intern to editor.” It has a nice ring to it. And in 19 years at the Buffalo News, Margaret Sullivan did just that. She’s been the top editor at the News for 12 years, and one … Read more >>

Apple picking in New York

Dan and I will do anything to escape a) the van and b) prepackaged food. So today the two of us detoured to StoneyRidge Orchard in Erin, Ny., to pick apples and fix both of those … Read more >>

The curious case of Michael Fosberg

Michael Fosberg plays the race card, literally. He joked about it as he handed us his business card. “RACE” is emblazoned on the back in big black letters. The other side listed Fosberg’s contact info and … Read more >>

Meet Big Mama, the mayor of Hopeville

For obvious reasons it’s hard to find a homeless city. No address. Hopeville, one of the three largest homeless camps in St. Louis, comes with nothing more than “north of The Arch, next to the river.” … Read more >>

Attorney and amateur historian examines Hannibal’s slaveholding past

Hannibal, Mo., cheerily announces its intentions before you reach the downtown area. “America’s Hometown.” It’s written on a stout, sky-blue water tower that looms over Highway 61, one of the tallest structures in Hannibal. Terrell Dempsey, … Read more >>

Hannibal exhibits ‘invisible’ black population

In some ways the Hannibal, Mo., that Faye Dant, 62, grew up in no longer exists. Dant remembers when schools in Hannibal were still segregated. Around town, there was an unspoken knowledge of the places where … Read more >>

Mississippi Sunset

View from the upper deck of the Mark Twain Riverboat.

An archaeological dig at the Quarles farmstead

Finding archaeologist Karen Hunt is kind of a hassle. She’s hidden, sort of like the artifacts she and volunteers dig for during September weekends at the Mark Twain Archaeology Dig. It’s home to the former farmstead … Read more >>

How (not) to pack

Fitting three months of stuff into two suitcases is proving to be more difficult than I anticipated.

Mark Twain meets the Internet

Mark Twain, please meet the Internet. Mark Twain, Internet; Internet, Mark Twain. I wonder a lot about what our lost literary greats would do if ever confronted by this fine web of technology. The people who … Read more >>