The Great American Road Trip: Thoughts on Driving Across the Country (+Book Giveaway)

by A Manly Guest Contributor on May 24, 2012 · 448 comments

in Travel, Travel & Leisure

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Marcus Brotherton, best-selling author or co-author of more than 25 books. Follow his blog at: www.marcusbrotherton.com

We were rumbling along highway 2 in Washington State between the two flyspeck towns of Davenport and Reardan, when Paul’s old Ford station wagon broke down.

There was no warning sputter. No parts spewed on the road behind us. The car simply stopped breathing and we coasted to the shoulder and braked.

Those were the days before cell phones.

We opened the hood and hemmed and hawed. We kicked the tires. All around us was wheat country, field after field of shushing yellow waves.

I climbed a nearby hill and searched for the closest farmhouse. From the hilltop I could see Paul under the hood making engine sounds with his lips.

It was a silent landscape when there was no traffic, which was most of the time. It was just my friend and me on the road trip together, and we were quite alone.

I climbed down the hill. Paul sighed, and we began to walk along the highway in search of help.

Hours later, back at the car, Mick the mechanic, from Mick’s Tire and Auto Repair, pulled up in his rusted blue wrecker and towed us to his garage. Perhaps the problem was a fuel pump, Mick was not sure. Whatever parts we needed were available only from a store in another town, so nothing could be done that night.

Paul and I were marooned, yet we were at peace with that mishap. The rigors of college were newly completed, and this trip across America was our graduation present to ourselves. We’d allowed ourselves four late August weeks of nothing except the open road. One of our main objectives was to see the Grand Canyon, and being stranded along the way, we concluded, was an integral part of the adventure.

Mick the mechanic let us pitch our tent in the grassy field behind his shop that evening. With the sun setting, Paul and I walked the length of town, looking for a diner. The walk took 10 minutes, and we covered the entire metropolis.

Our waitress at the Cottonwood Bar & Grill brought us a plate of biscuits along with our burgers. She was at least 75. “These are on the house,” she said, referring to the biscuits. I remember her words exactly. “I don’t like to see young fellars ever goin’ hungry.”

Supper over, Paul and I stayed at the table, stretched back and talked. There was nowhere to go. The rest of the town was long closed. We talked about girls, cars, guitars, God, politics. We talked of what we didn’t know as much as what we did.

Then we were silent. We thumbed through sections of a local newspaper. We looked at the menu again, and each ordered another slice of peach pie. Another two hours went by, and we didn’t speak at all.

I thought about how long it takes before you can be comfortably silent with a friend. When you first meet you don’t want the pressure of dead air. Paul and I had experienced more than four years of friendship by then, and silence was fine.

Mick the mechanic fixed Paul’s Ford that weekend, and Paul and I traveled on.

We saw marshy paint pits at Yellowstone and a sheet-lightening hailstorm near Mt. Rushmore.

We camped beside coyotes in South Dakota, in the wild rains of Colorado, and in the crazy-dry heat of Arizona.

We hummed across ruler-straight interstates in Nebraska, traversed through a flash flood in New Mexico, and wound along the surfy highways of the California coast.

We saw the Harley Davidsons at Sturgis, the Presidio of San Francisco, and the Navaho plains.

Then, somewhere in the middle of that trip, we drove to the rim of the Grand Canyon and looked over the side.

The Grand Canyon, for those who have never visited, is a multi-state river-ripped conduit that pulses with reds, purples, sepias, blacks and greens. All around you is sky, space, land, and water. Earth is brilliant. Words fail.

In that place, Paul and I snapped pictures; we hiked its valleys and drank its majesty. Young men at 22, silent from wonder, monumental in friendship.

That was more than twenty years ago, the first time I set out to drive across America. I confess that Paul and I didn’t reach the other side, but we were okay with that. Four weeks, we discovered, was not nearly long enough on the open road.

Today, this is what I know of taking the journey: Driving across the country you live in, or at least a large section of it, is a rite of passage all young men should be privileged to undertake as soon as life extends the possibility.

If you’re middle-aged or a senior citizen and have never taken the trip, it’s fine to go with your family, or a friend from long ago. But, very simply, the journey must find its way onto your bucket list.

Why is this journey so necessary?

1. You create a new soundtrack to your life. Part of this will come from the music you listen to along the way. But it’s more than that. It’s the music combined with the new sights in your head, the new smells and tastes, the new conversations you have with your travelling companions, and the new thoughts that emerge from the stillness of your mind. Your horizons will be broadened, and you will become a richer you.

2. You develop a new feeling of smallness. And smallness, in this context, is not a bad thing. It’s one thing to hop on a jet plane and arrive at your destination in an hour or two. It’s yet another experience to take a long road trip. Only then do you gain a ground-level sense of distance. You see how big the world is and how small you are in it. That feeling of humbleness goes a long way to creating a richer you. You know your importance fits only into the larger human experience.

3. You will want to thank someone. Particularly if you live in a country where you can drive on a highway for mile after mile, and people are able to live as they want to live, free to make something of their lives.

Shifty’s War Giveaway

The paperback edition of Marcus Brotherton’s latest book, Shifty’s War: The Authorized Biography of Sgt. Darrell “Shifty” Powers, the Legendary Sharpshooter from the Band of Brothers has just been released. It’s the perfect book to take along on your next summer road trip.

New York Times bestselling author Robyn Post had this to say about the narrative: “The wonder of this book is how good it makes you feel. Shifty Powers’ life was momentous, and Marcus Brotherton flawlessly captured every detail.”

Marcus is giving away 3 copies of his book to three lucky Art of Manliness readers. To win a copy of Shifty’s War, just leave a comment sharing your thoughts on the classic road trip. Have you ever driven across the country you live in? How old were you, what did you see and experience? How did the trip enrich your life? If you have never been, what do you hope to see when you make the trip?

Three comments will be randomly drawn as the winners. Giveaway ends May 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm CST.

 

{ 448 comments… read them below or add one }

401 Phil May 30, 2012 at 12:28 am

I got a random call from a friend to help him move his stuff from Minnesota to Seattle, pick up more stuff, then drive up to Fairbanks, AK. Because he was a delta pilot, he’d fly me to the start and finish points along the way. I had a cop pull me over in Medora, SD – talked myself out of the ticket because I knew so much local history from Teddy Roosevelt’s life, and then the cop helped me find his old ranch and encouraged me to hop the fence to get into it after hours.

Not only did we make it to Alaska in fine style in the winter, but the whole journey crossed much of the continent. Nothing like Moose roast instead of turkey on Thanksgiving under the Aurora Borealis! I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

402 Porter May 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

I’m a newly-minted man, just graduated from high school, and I’m itching to take the quintessential American road trip. I live in the west, and have never crossed the Rockies. I want to see, to be a part of everything, to really get my hands dirty and see what America’s all about. Can’t wait!

403 Andargachew Dessie May 30, 2012 at 3:27 am

The way you describe your road trip is inspiring for me to continue my pursuit of taking a road trip with my group of close friends. The farthest we’ve ever been was a four hour drive and we lost interest quickly but this makes me want to take another attempt in conquering the open roads of America.

404 Evan May 30, 2012 at 4:12 am

In the summer of 2000, my parents decided we would road trip to Texas for my cousin’s wedding. My 12 year old self figured out a way to rig a TV and VCR into our 1992 minivan. My eldest brother was in charge of movies, but unfortunately for us, my mother confiscated all the PG-13 and R movies. This left us with a single movie for the 30+ hours of driving. A 1 hour detour to go up Pike’s peak turned into a day of hiking after van decided it couldn’t make it it up the last few miles. Our dad taught us how to play poker when we had to hunker down in a storm shelter during a tornado in New mexico. I had some real bad food right before going through Carlsbad cavern. And to top it off, the AC went out in the Texas heat. The outdoor thermostat read 124 F at midnight. Even with everything that went wrong, it is one of my favorite childhood memories. We bonded so much as a family and have great laughs at every family gathering.

405 danny dailey May 30, 2012 at 8:04 am

I was a sophomore in college when I drove my ’86 F150 from Greer, SC to Seward, Alaska to work as a deckhand on a charter fishing boat. My father accompanied me on the way up, and a high school buddy joined me on the way back. We didn’t take our time, but those 11 days were some of the most eventful in my life. Between getting stuck for a night at the U.S./Canada border, losing cell phone signal for two days, the nightly mosquito attacks, all the animals we witnessed, and swapping fuel pumps in Montana, I have many a story to tell from that trip. We even had a run in with the law (apparently it is considered “theft of utilities” to plug your freezer full of fish into an unmanned service station overnight).

406 James May 30, 2012 at 8:49 am

Haven’t been on a road trip in years, but I can’t wait until my son is a little older and can enjoy a great road trip.

407 Tyler S. May 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

Road trip is definitely worth it, just don’t over crowd the car with people, just take one or two along with you. Too many opinions = arguments = bad trip in car with not other space to get away to.

408 George Bailey May 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

I’ve road tripped from Kansas City to Memphis over night for BBQ but never cross country. Definitely on the buck list. That would be amazing

409 Paus May 30, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I have been on the road as a traveling musician in the USA and Europe for about a year now. My life has during the passed two years taken a huge 180 turn.. with a flip! I used to do the office thing and live a stabile life with a safe income. It was fine but to predictable for me. Now I’m on the road, and I am experiencing more stuff in a day than I used to do all year long before. I have had to make some big sacrifices, but its all worth it.. Thanks for a brilliant post

410 Mike May 30, 2012 at 7:18 pm

I’m in the middle of one now, solo. Came from San Diego, currently spending the night in Baton Rugue. I wish I didn’t have a schedule to keep (military move), because I’d love to go check out some blues joints down in the delta region.

411 Henrique Vilhena May 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Being Portuguese and my only visit to the America having been limited to New York City I never had the pleasure of doing a real American road trip, although I dream of doing one someday. However, I had the opportunity of doing a few European road trips with my parents and sisters, seen as my father has always been an enthusiast of this form of travelling. The best one I can recall happened in the summer of 1993 when I was only eleven years old. We went on a Renault Clio, my father and mother, my two sisters and myself. We went on a round trip of France without cell phones and air-conditioning in our car. My father has always been an enthusiast of history, mostly military history and he wanted to do a trip that would show us the less touristy side of France. Before this trip I had only been to Spanish sea side resorts and a week in London so this trip was something new to me and I remember it as if it had happened yesterday.
We started from Lisbon, my hometown, and went to Salamanca and then Isla in northern Spain. After a week enjoying the beaches of Isla we drove towards the border. We slept near Poitier and then pushed on up the Loire valley where we saw two of the many beautiful pre-revolutionary châteaux, Chambord and Vaux-le-Vicomte. After that we passed through Fontainebleau where we saw the court where Napoleon Bonaparte had very tearfully said goodbye to his troops before being exiled to the Isle of Elbe in 1813.
We drove on to Verdun, not too far from the border with Germany. This sad little town was home to one of the bloodiest battles in WWI where nearly a million French and German soldiers lost their lives. The whole country side around the town is now wooded but it is also scarred by shell craters for miles and miles. This was different from lots of battle sites which consisted of a countryside plain where, the brochure said, an important battle had taken place. Here it was different. Here you could see that something very serious had indeed happened. We saw, remnants of old trenches, collapsed concrete fortifications, sites where villages once stood and were wiped out by artillery fire…Most impressive of all, we saw the Bayonet Trench where a few soldiers are still standing under the earth after they were buried when a shell hit nearby, their bayonets still sticking out of the ground like. I was only eleven and this place impressed me more than any one historical place.
Then we joined a cousin of mine and his wife on the Normandy town of Arromanches. My cousin was a lot older than me and a WWII enthusiast. Arromanches lies west of the beach known as Sword Beach where British troops landed as part of Operation Overlord on D-Day June 6 1944. From our hotel window, at low tide, we could see the remnants of the artificial port the Allies had built in order to bring supplies into France. For a few days we stayed there, visiting Omaha Beach, La Pointe-du-Hoc, Ste Mere Eglise and other places made famous in the fight against Nazi occupation. One day we saw a German battery by the side of the road. We went to see it up close and I remember clearly the impact marks from bullets and shrapnel that filled the concrete walls and the metal in the huge guns. My cousin reconstructed the events of how the position was taken, maybe by Americans, maybe by British troops.
We drove down to Bordeaux and past the border again into Spain. We slept one night in Bilbao and the last day in our 15 day trip we drove back to Lisbon. We never visited Paris and when we started my father told me we might go to Euro Disney if we had the time. It never happened and I didn’t really notice until we got back. After all I had seen I didn’t really care.

412 Matthew Bryant May 30, 2012 at 9:04 pm

My father was a long haul trucker. I spent a few summers in my teens riding with him.

Time was money, and we often drove from Eastern NC to produce warehouses in Los Angeles in less than 72 hours. I ate biscuits and gravy down here in the South before sunrise in the morning, and two sunrises later be downing breakfast burritos from the back of a little Mexican grease truck the dock workers bought their breakfast at. I helped unload the big trucks and split the profits with my dad. I saw waterfalls near Lake Shasta that and ate steak in Texas the next night. I’ve been to 35 of the contiguous 48, and I even remember a few of them. And sleeping on that thin mattress in the back of a big truck is some of the best sleep I’ve ever had.

Man, I wanna go on a road trip now.

413 Monty Daniels May 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I took off from Dallas about 5 years ago, looking to get to Glacier National Park in Montana. Had car trouble in Grand Junction, CO, and burned my trip stake on repairs, so had to turn back at Salt Lake City. Didn’t make Glacier, but saw some awesome stuff: Bandolier and Colorado National Monuments, Arches and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Even more… being on the open road by myself, just my iPod for company, was truly liberating. Counts as one of the great trips of my life. I’m looking to set off again, soon.

414 Rich Smith May 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Did a similar trip with my now-deceased younger brother in 1972 in his Camaro convertible, camping out in the Grand Canyon, Rocky Mt. National Park, got blown away in a ring of lightning storms in Illinois, broke down in a small town in Arkansas and our car was repaired by the most honest mechanic I have yet to meet. Best time I ever had.

415 Bodhi Knight May 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm

A very cool article. Two of my friends are planning on getting married next year in April. I am taking the chance to drive across the country, stopping to see long-time friends I’ve met on the internet and some I’ve known my entire life. Starting in Northern California, driving down Route 1 to South California, then to Texas to see a friend, then to Oklahoma to see friends, then through the southern states to see lands I’ve never seen, followed by Florida to see family. On from Florida up the east coast, stopping in Virginia and Washington D.C. to see more family, on up to New York and NYC to see more family and friends, and then to New Hampshire for the wedding and to see all my old friends and maybe look at my old house to see what’s happened to it. Hey, I might even take the chance to drive up in to canada and check out montreal. Going to be quite a trip if I can pull it off but this article is inspiring to say the least. Thanks guys!

-BK

416 Cameron May 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I’m 22 and have been lucky enough to take many trips with my family and friends across the country (I live in Michigan): North Carolina, Alaska, California, Florida, South Dakota, Oregon and Washington, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Saint Louis, New York City, Chicago, DC, some of the tiniest towns in the United States…the list is a mile long.

Still, I don’t feel as if I’ve taken an American road trip in the sense that is used here. I’m getting married this summer and, while we will not be able to take a lengthy honeymoon, I hope that my wife-to-be and I will be able to undertake a trip of this magnitude in the next few years.

I think that travelling is one of the most important and rewarding experiences in life and I will take every opportunity I can get.

417 Adam Black May 31, 2012 at 12:30 am

I took a road trip from Cincinnati to Nashville with my brother and a few friends and we really discovered who we were as people on that trip. We pulled together as a team when the car broke down. We laughed and screamed at how ridiculous everyone was and how we are lucky to be alive. We bonded very closely and never grew apart. My brother was killed a few years later in a car accident after going on a small trip. I will always associate cars and trips with my brother from now on. The positives and the negatives.

418 Todd May 31, 2012 at 1:09 am

Haven’t really taken a road trip, but look forward to the day that my wife and I can go and do it, with a tear drop of course!

419 Hitchhiker42 May 31, 2012 at 2:27 am

My grandfather and I drove across the country from San Francisco, CA to Richmond, VA when I was 15. The car was purchased on a recent summer trip to California by my uncle Doug, who lived in Virginia. He asked us to drive across the country and deliver it to him. The car was a beautiful metallic blue 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, with dual glass-pack mufflers and a brand new white vinyl convertible top.

My grandfather and I set off around 11:00 AM with the top down, the wind streaming through our hair. By noon we were both badly sun burned, our necks and noses roasted. We stopped by Altamont Pass (with the windmills) and put up the top.

The convertible top stayed up for the next 5 days. My grandfather refused to take it down ever again. haha

This was back in the days before GPS. We took a couple wrong turns in Nevada, sometimes driving for an hour up a highway where we had turned left when we should have turned right. We sure did see a lot of Nevada!

I would say the best meal we had was in the middle of nowhere in Utah. We found a restaurant that looked like a cinder-block bomb-shelter-Mormon-tabernacle combination. Inside, the restaurant was like the interior of a magnificent and ritzy New York hotel, all decked out with black and white marble and gold-gilt Egyptian themed ornamentation. There were a pair of man-size stone Anubis statues in the lobby and columns with gold-gilt lotus-leaf designs on the capitals. My grandfather and I ate the best steak of our lives there. To this day I still wonder, “Where the heck WAS that place?” I don’t even remember the name of the town. The opulence and sheer weirdness of finding this shrine to all things Egyptian in the middle of Utah still strikes me. It was definitely surreal. We walked back to our cinder-block motel-by-the-highway, both raving about how good that steak was.

Those moments spent with my grandfather are ones that I will always remember. To this day (20+ years later) I can still say to him, “Remember that steak we had in Utah?” and his eyes light up, “Oh yes, that was magnificent!”

420 Matthew May 31, 2012 at 5:43 am

A few years ago now, my pals and I decided to go on a road trip up the coast of California just after our high school graduation. For sure nothing brings a group of friends together like spending a week and a half living in a mini van. From the Yosemite backcountry to the sketchiest parts of San Francisco at night, we really saw it all. My favorite memory still was driving down on the last day and realizing we still had a bunch of chili cans, granola bars and random snack foods leftover. We stopped at every homeless man we saw and gave him a handful of whatever we could grab out of the black trash bag that contained our food stuffs.

Hoping to get a cross country road trip in this summer. Would love to see an article on the manly past time of hitch hiking and how to go about it these days, Even in Kerouac’s later books he started to see the decline of the hitch hiker, which to me is disheartening for the adventurous American spirit.

421 Todd May 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

I took my Dad on a road trip a few years back to go pheasant hunting, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

P.S. The trip can be alot more fun if you don’t book hotel rooms in advance, which will allow much more freedom to change your plans on where to stop and stay at a moments notice.

422 Aaron May 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I have road tripped a couple times across the US with family as a boy to visit family and a few years ago to help my then fiancé, now wife, move for an internship. It was an awesome experience both times and look forward to planning another road trip in the near future.

423 Solomon May 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Ive never taken a road trip across the country, however I am young, and naturally have an urge to do so. I plan on it after I finish with college.

424 Alex May 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I love how he describes the Grand Canyon…. Words do fail. I saw about three fourths of route 66 with a group of my friends during one summer of high school. I loved that trip. That landscape is pure Americana. Everyone should experience it.

425 Alex May 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I love how he describes the Grand Canyon…. Words do fail. I saw about three fourths of route 66 with a group of my friends during one summer of high school. I loved that trip.

426 Barry Pollock May 31, 2012 at 7:52 pm

What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing.

427 CleverTrousers May 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I’ve never driven across the United States but I have taken many memorable road trips.

Quite possibly my favorite one was my most recent one, last summer from CT to PA; specifically Gettysburg. The trip was one filled with history as my sister, my father, and I are all big history buffs.

We could have very well flown there, but driving down in the car is a totally different experience. It puts the three of us together in an environment that really allows you to soak up new and exciting surroundings but also an environment that forces you to bond with those around you.

Whether it’s figuring out directions, wondering at the sights passing by, deciding where to stop and eat, or even just telling stories and jokes. The road trip is a vehicle for not only travel but discovery of yourself and all around you.

428 Eric B. June 1, 2012 at 12:03 am

I’ve driven cross country many times and I love it… Many of my co-workers are traveling to other countries but I think there is too much to see in this one…

429 Austin June 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I had the opportunity to drive across the country a few times during college. The first was from Utah to New York – all on the interstates. I think the road trip loses some of it’s fun when the idea is just to get somewhere. My second cross country haul was after college to my first duty station at Ft. Bliss. My dad came with me and we took 2 weeks to get from upstate NY to El Paso, TX. It was definitely one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, primarily because we took back roads from more than 3,000 miles. We stopped to fish, hike, and sometimes just to stare at the countryside in just about every state between our start and end. I hope the cross country road-trip remains a rite of passage.

430 E June 2, 2012 at 2:27 am

Ive never taken a a trip like this before, I want to get lost in the world see and do everything and at the end of it honestly be able to say that I have lived! And let this trip just scrape the surface of the iceberg that I call my life and help spark greatness in whatever I do.

431 Austin Elieff June 2, 2012 at 11:00 am

Me and a friend of mine have been talking about doing a road trip for at least two years now. I love reading and hearing about them and this year we’re planning on taking a week long trip to Norther Michigan’s Mackinac Island. From there we plan to branch out and do bigger and more adventurous trips in the future. I loved this story, as it is not only a great story of being friends on a trip without worries and having good times, but it is also one of my dreams and things like this help keep it alive.

432 Zach June 3, 2012 at 9:18 am

My wife and I are moving back to America from Italy, where we have been stationed for the last three years. We are looking forward to a Road Trip from New York to our family in Wisconsin and then on to our next post in Kansas. It will be a great time and we will be able to cover 11 states, 6 of which my wife has not yet been to. We are excited to experience more of America!

433 Phil June 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Back in 1983 when I was still single, I squeezed my 6’5″ self into a Pontiac Fiero and drove from NH to South Carolina to visit a girl I knew. Stayed there for a few days and then headed west up through Kentucky, Tenn, and then into Indiana where I visited some old neighbors of mine and spent the night. I then drove from Indiana 18 hours straight back to NH stopping only for gas and hamburgers and coke. The things you can do when you are young! Saw the most amazing things along the way, coal country towns where the houses are all lined up in rows and what had to be the world’s biggest junkyard in PA. Also stopped into Gettysburg for an afternoon and visited the battlefield as I am a Civil War buff. The wheat field where Picketts charge took place is just amazingly beautiful. It’s hard to envision all the bloodshed that occurred there. The tobacco fields in NC. The historical Southern mansion in SC and the cornfields in Indiana….oh Lord they stretched forever. I had never seen such flatness. I was also amazed how cheap houses were out there too. Dodged a tornado outside of Indianapolis during a wicked thunderstorm, I had never seen a sky turn green before. I know there were more things that I saw that amazed me but have forgotten. Been almost 30 years since, still the best week of my life. I can’t describe the freedom I felt and the wonders I saw, my head could not swivel fast enough. I’ll get out there again before I am done.

434 Rob in San Diego June 4, 2012 at 6:36 am

My first road trip was a family vacation, Maryland to Arizona. I was 10 years old and the trip navigator. I really didn’t notice much until we got out west and I saw wild horses running through the desert, I knew then that I was in some really different country. No A/C in the car, so I smelled the cows and the sage through the open windows. It was a fast trip with few stops except for food, gas, sleep and a roadside indian souvenir stand to see the rattlesnakes. It was a great trip.

Since then I’ve driven nearly across the country 5 times, between Virginia and San Francisco, Seattle,Phoenix, San Diego (twice).

I’ve slept in the car for lack of money, been chased out of a bar by cowboys in Wyoming, tasted food so spicy it blistered my tongue in New Mexico, driven with bald tires through snow in Arizona, had a blowout doing 70 outside Dallas, and once made it home with only 52 cents in my pocket.

I’ve been in towns where everybody was smiling because of the local parade, towns where people are so friendly I wanted to live there, and been with some spectacularly wonderful women. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, the California coast, aspens in the Rockies, and many other sights that brought back that excitement I had when I first saw those horses in the desert.

Flying on airlines is a chore, driving cross-country is an adventure. I’m hoping I’ll take another road trip soon.

435 Joshua June 4, 2012 at 10:34 am

When I was a kid my dad was in the marines and we were stationed in California when he retired and we moved and drove to West Virginia. It was an awesome 7 day journey that Id never forget.

But, why do people never reveal how they fund their trips? Not just anyone could afford a few weeks off work, afford the gas to drive across the county. Who can afford a few thousand dollars on just driving?

436 David Greene June 4, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I’ve driven across the country a few times and once completely on my own in a small pickup truck with no cruise control. I will never forgot puttering up the mountains in Montana, amazed at the fact that even in June there was still snow.

437 Greg June 7, 2012 at 12:35 am

An excellent article!

I am ashamed to say I have only visited 36 states and one Canadian Province, but I can’t tell you how many times I encounter people who have “never been there,” or for that matter, have never even left the town they live in. I love to hit the back roads in the car with the windows down and just see what there is to see.

I wouldn’t trade the road trip for any other activity I can think of. There is just too much out there to take in, and I am glad I have so much more to go.

438 Mitchell June 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Driving from Detroit to the badlands in South Dakota was one of the best road trips i have ever been on. Camping in the badlands, surrounded by breath-taking senery was better than my dreams

439 Nik June 12, 2012 at 11:45 am

Joshua – you were curious about how folks afford these road trips and I can shed some light on at least my situation…

My trips were in part paid for due to change of stations with the US Army. I drove from Flroida to California and then made the return trip two years later. Army pays for 7 days of cheap hotel and gas for the most direct route from point a to point b… I combined the 7 days of travel time/hotel with an extra 10 days of paid vaction time and took a more scenic route, paying for the additional fuel/hotel stays out of pocket.

440 erik June 14, 2012 at 10:16 am

Live in Iowa and my favorite road trips have been west to Oregon. Did it in 1991 and 1994 in a 1988 Dodge Caravan. Took 2 different ways out and 2 differtent ways back. Saw Yellowstone, Glacier, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Mt. Rushmore, and San Fran to name a few. The best moment was when we decided to leave the interstate in Montana and ended up on a road that was being constructed. Driving next to dump trucks, excavators, and the like with the construction workers looking at us like we were idiots. Great time.

441 Chris June 16, 2012 at 9:53 am

I’ve been planning a trip across the country this summer, but have not said that I’m definately going yet. After reading this article, I am absolutely going. I’ll be leaving in a little over a month and will be on the road for 28 days. Trip of a lifetime.

442 John June 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm

The American road trip is one of the reasons that helped me become a conservative.

443 Castus June 21, 2012 at 2:13 am

My friend and I are from out east in Canada (him New Brunswick and Ontario, and myself Montreal) and we’re planning on taking a road trip from where we’re stationed in Shilo, Manitoba, all the way down the west coast and mountain states.

We’ve got 3 weeks of summer leave, going to drive through Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Colombia and then cross the border. From there, Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada (Vegas!), Utah, Wyoming and Montana then back up to Alberta and the #1 highway back to base.

It’s going to be a good trip, I think.

444 bloody cardinal November 30, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Living in a small country in Europe, my friend and I went on a road trip around it – about 2200 kms in total. It was great, I want to do it again some day.

445 Grace Aubin January 18, 2013 at 3:56 am

My husband and i have been on Social Security disability, I have never dreamed that we would end up with this mess. Our big dream would to travel west (from Connecticut) and go through the Dakotas, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, We would love to be able to visit with my brother and his wife, Kathy. After that, we would fly up to San Fransico and take a cruise up to Alaska. Once we reach & visit via the cruise, we would rent an RV and drive thru the outbacks of Alaska. The whole trip would probably take us 3 – 4 weeks. I know that it is not good to pray for “THINGS” when there are so many other people that truly NEED the basics. How do you pray for all the needy and the precious families who are grieving in the loss of their children. Thank you for letting me write my Bucket List in this format. If I do win the sweepstakes, i will use half of our prize monies to go to those people who so need help in so many ways,

446 Billy January 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

About 10 years ago in my mid-30′s I got a bug to buy a Series 3 V12 Jag. From my home in Cheyenne, WY I scoured the net until I found one in West Palm Beach, FL. We made a deal and I flew a red-eye down, bought the old Jag, stopped at a Pep Boys and bought a tool set, and headed the 2000 miles back to Wyoming. In Fort Pierce I stood in the Atlantic for the first time in my life.
That night I stayed in Valdosta, GA and met a guy who used to sell carpet wholesale to a friend of mine in Cheyenne who owns a carpet store.
The next day driving by Dalton, GA I smelled antifreeze and found a radiator hose had split. Pulling off I pulled into a dilapidated old gas station with a guy sitting with a fly swatter. He came out and looked at the hose, and said, “I’ve got a box of hoses in the back, let’s go look.” As we walked to the back of the dingy station, I thought I could hear banjo music,but he reached into the box and found a hose, gave it to me for free, and I slapped it on and took off.
The whole trip back was one of seeing country I’d never seen before, meeting interesting people, and trying to keep a thirsty old Jag on the road.
I want to do it again!

447 Gretchen Leaf February 26, 2013 at 8:40 am

To go -or- not to go…THAT is the ‘question’. Travel on, young soul…to become whole. Eternally young in trials & tribulations – all ‘adventures’ are ‘good adventures’ (a bit like the saying, “If it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger.” Go forth.
————————-
Criss-crossed here, there, & everywhere with my family – we travel EVERYWHERE together, but when my husband brought up ‘taking a whole YEAR OFF’ & traveling OUR-USA country…I stuttered, I stammer. I am dumbfounded, COULD this possibly be done together?…you never know – until you try, eh?!…but maybe, just MAYBE – I’ll be more comfortable ‘biting off’ a month here, another month & a half there…THEN go for ‘the big one’. WHEW! Next question – which WAY to go? *put up the map, put on a blindfold, & throw the darts (x3, x4, x7…x?), ‘arrange’ your ‘sane insanity’ & DRIVE. Someday…someday. One day, maybe – tomorrow? Hmmm.

448 Dan December 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I love the idea of road trips, and have done 3 big ones by myself (throughout New England, another trip to Boston, and one from Philly to Tennessee and back). This summer, vacation permitting, I will be just getting in my car and driving. The only thing I’ll decide is to drive west on US 30. Everything else will be on a whim. I’m doing it this way so I can get a full experience. Or, you know, fail miserably and return to my past ways of planning destinations out. Either way.

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