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 }

201 Bob White May 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

2005 My wife and I packed just about everything we owned into the back of my F150 and made out for Georgia from California. Almost 30, we felt our opportunity to finish college slipping away so we headed out to the University of Georgia. we made it in three days, from Rancho Cucamonga CA to Amarillo TX then on to Memphis and finally Athens, the sheer size of this country made what we were trying to do seem miniscule in comparison. Now seven years latter we both received our bachelors and I am working on a masters while we plan our next adventure.

202 Ben S May 25, 2012 at 11:28 am

Road trip for baseball Spring Training during my grad school spring break. 24 hour drive from Lawrence, KS to Phoenix.

Several things stand out from that trip. Going through a blizzard just outside Albuquerque, NM and seeing semi-trucks flipped over. Eating Waffle House three consecutive mornings. Eating a Mexican restaurant that gave out postcards of George W Bush to all of its customers. Meeting Cincinnati Reds’ legends George Foster and Eric Davis. Most impressive for me though, was seeing mountains for the first time. I’ve never seen anything so breathtaking/ mind-blowing.

203 Kurtis May 25, 2012 at 11:29 am

I agree that every man should take this journey. I’d just graduated college and I took my younger brother with me from California up to Wyoming and down through Colorado and back… beautiful sights and amazing beers. I’ll always remember the fireworks and the goofy pictures we took at the continental divide. It’s made me appreciate the world we live in better and look for ways I can preserve that for others to come.

204 Drew May 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

After graduating college in Los Angeles, three other young men and I drove to Jackson, MS to spend the summer volunteering with Voice of Calvary Ministries. We lived in a house for 8 weeks with two other young men we had never met before.

Dominos Pizza on Tuesday nights, grilling on our itty bit “Smoky Joe,” and drinking soda straight from the 2 liter bottle are great memories.

But driving 2,000 miles each way together was a wonderful, memorable accomplishment, even without A/C. Hiking the Grand Canyon on the way home was another highlight. Then, after hiking all day and driving three more hours without A/C, my friend Andy’s parents welcomed us to Phoenix with Dairy Queen blizzards at midnight. Still brings a smile to my face any time I see a Dairy Queen.

205 Matthew Poertner May 25, 2012 at 11:38 am

I have hardly even been out of the state I live in yet alone across the whole country. I would love to make a trip like that. To eat at restaurants along the way and talk to the locals. Now finding the money to fund the trip is one thing but scheduling a decent block of time off work is another.

206 Drew J May 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

I remember my trip from Kansas City to Santa Cruz like it was yesterday. A friend of mine was graduating from UCSC and his mother and I drove from KC to SC over 3 days. Yup, 3 days with my friends mom. How akward. Let me just say, there was plenty of silence.

I did enjoy our time in Napa with her friend who worked at a winery. We got a private tour of the winery and saw the owners collection of classic cars. It was worth it.

207 Thomas May 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

I wish I could say I’ve driven across the country, but I can’t. I’ve taken a plane ride across the country, but I have not (yet) had the privilege of driving it. After reading this post, I definitely would like to add a cross-country road trip to my bucket list!

The longest road trip I’ve ever been on was last August when I took my wife and son from central California up to the North-East side of Washington State. The goal of our trip at the time was to get to our destination (grandma’s house up in the mountains above Spokane), so we didn’t make much time to do any sight seeing. This was a mistake. Soon after we set course for the North, we realized that we really should have taken time along the way to stop and smell the roses. It took everything in my being to push on past the signs that said “Mt. Shasta – Next Stop” and “Crater Lake – Next Right” (to name a couple). Lesson learned, we definitely want to make the trip again and we will definitely our time next time!

208 Scott Sideleau May 25, 2012 at 11:51 am

I have always wanted to go on my own version of the Great American Road Trip. I would want to do it with camping gear stuffed into my ’07 Prius and my girlfriend in tow. Unfortunately, being in New England, it would take an awful long time to get to the Ring of National Parks. I think I would need at least 3-weeks to do it right.

209 Sean M. May 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

My parents loved taking the four of us kids on road trips each summer. Having emigrated from England we were constantly amazed at the sheer expanse of America. We lived in Michigan so most of our travels took us to the Midwest states. What we saw and experienced cannot be reached by flying to a touristy city. A favorite road trip memory is peering into the “Blue Hole” of Castalia, Ohio and being told that it is too deep to know how far it goes down. My fondest memory is the time our Ford Country Squire station wagon overheated and my dad had each of his three boys stand on the front bumper to try filling up the radiator with pee. My sister was fortunately spared the embarrassment.

210 Mike P. May 25, 2012 at 11:57 am

The best road trip I ever took was driving across Canada with my parents to move to our new home in Michigan. It was most excellent.

211 Ty W May 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

My dad and I took my brother and some of his friends to a big concert in Illinois. We drove from Texas. Dropped them off and we went on to Chicago for some games at Wrigley and the new Comiskey (or whatever its called). Had some great memories just from the drive itself. Saw all sorts of amazing things and places.

212 Jeremy Wickham May 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

Some of the best road trips for me was going on a couple spring break trips with my friends from high school and college. Stopping at random places to just tool around and then after a day or so making it to our final destination. Those were some of the best times.

213 Pastor Joshua May 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Nothing builds comradery like a road trip. I routinely take students on road trips to build relationships and just be together.

214 Tank May 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm

As a teen my family drove out out to the Black Hills and into Wyoming, it was a great time. A few years ago I did it again on my Harley. It gives you an even greater appreciation when on a bike.

215 darrin crow May 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm

My best road trip was an 18 hour drive from Iowa to Pensacola that took about four days. We had a carload going to college for the spring term, and Elizabeth’s red station wagon died every few miles, stranding us (happily) in Hannibal, MO, and (unhappily) near the Batesville Casket Company in the dead of night.

216 Joe LaBarge May 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm

There is nothing more liberating than being on the open road. You will re-discover how free you are and how you fit in this world. My last trip I took with a friend from Wisconsin to San Diego in my 1975 Cadillac. We fully expected something to go wrong, but nothing did, which was a little disappointing. When inviting my friend to come along, I warned him that it was an old car that has been neglected the past few years and could lead to some roadside headaches. He responded by saying “it’s not an adventure till something goes wrong”. That’s exactly the kind of attitude you need to enjoy a road trip. Thanks for posting.

217 Evan R May 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I’ve driven north to south, but not across east to west yet.

My younger brother made the trip out with a friend in an old drop-top, foreign-built jalopy that he fixed up himself, and ended up blowing his radiator hose smack dab in the middle of death valley, in the afternoon, with not a car in sight!!

Luckily there was a good Samaritan that came by after half an hour or so, so they made it out alive…

218 Cameron T. May 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Two years ago, in the summer of 2010, I embarked on a trip across the eastern half of the US to slay the Dragon.

The Dragon is US 129 at Deal’s Gap, North Carolina. It’s 318 curves in 11 miles. I and about 48 of my fellow VW drivers gathered from all over the country to tackle it.

It was my first road trip, alone, without anyone telling me where to go or what to see.

I remember a tense night in a shady hotel in Jackson, Mississippi. I remember seeing the amazing Ruby Falls in Chattanooga. Touring the Biltmore estate. Stopping at every railroad-related museum.

Most of all, I remember re-tracing the route of the Great Locomotive chase.

Truly a trip I won’t forget.

219 Alex Devlin May 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I took a trip across the US before I returned to the UK. I purposely made myself homeless and went looking for work and adventure before I had to return to the UK due to heart problems.

I traveled to Glenwood Springs, CO and stayed in the youth hostel for about a week while I looked around for work. I went to visit Aspen and saw the grave of Doc Holiday. I met travelers who were staying there with me and discovered something about myself. Although I’m not a people person, I LOVE meeting new people! I never knew that about myself. But it was great meeting new folk and listening to their stories. I met girls who worked with cirque du soleil as teachers and were on vacation. I met hikers from all over the world who were passing through. I was on the road for about three months and it was the happiest time of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat. And hope to do so one day. I would happily take a year and travel around the US. Or buy an RV and live on the road moving with the seasons.

I found out that I am an adventurer at heart and wish I’d done that years ago when I was still young and able to work any jobs I could find. If anyone is ever wondering if they should take a road trip… the universe just told you yes when you first thought of the idea! You will not regret it and you will have the adventure of a lifetime. Go with the road and meet people who will remain in your thoughts years later.

Enjoy the adventure!

220 Kyle Noll May 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Many roadtrips to different parts of the US, but not one the whole way across the country yet. I’d love to do that, though, in several different ways– there’s more to see than can be done in just one trip. From the rugged Maine coast to the beautiful Oregon coast, from Glacier NP down the Rockies into New Mexico, or from Florida up the coast to Maine or beyond…

221 Ksmo May 25, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I take a road trip with my family every year. Pack up the kids and wife, and travel from central Texas to the east coast. Georgia, South Carolina, and sometimes North Carolina. Nothing beats it! You’ll do more to bond with those in the car with you than the rest of the year combined!

222 Nate Ortiz May 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I take my family (wife and two young children) on long, multi-day road trips at every opportunity. If Clark Griswold (the epitome of manliness) does it, I’m all for it!

223 Pete May 25, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Two years ago I drove my old Mercedes from Bakersfield, California to Oklahoma City to participate in #1 daughter’s wedding. I drove Route 66 the entire way – well, as far as one can nowadays since portions of 66 have been replaced by I-40. I had just been diagnosed with melanoma. The trip was therefore very surreal, between the melanoma and knowing that I was heading towards my first baby girl’s wedding – a milestone in any dad’s life by any measure. The trip took three days and was absolutely wonderful. The best parts were the open desert in California and the long, straight divided concrete section in Texas. A journey like this will hammer home the notion that the joy is in the journey.

224 Mike May 25, 2012 at 12:45 pm

My wife, two kids and I make several long road trips every year from Wyoming, where we live, to Colorado and New York, where we are from. A couple years ago, a cousin was getting married in San Antonio. Inspired by the movie Cars, we decided to travel “to have a great time, not to make great time.” We drove from Gillette, WY to Tulsa, OK and then San Antonio, TX without ever putting tires on an interstate. It was, without a doubt, the best road trip we have ever been on. Navigating through the Great Plains using at atlas and state and US highways was fantastic. I highly recommend this mode of travel if you want to see this remarkable country of ours, and are bored with the monotony of the interstate.

225 Anderson, gj May 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I have driven across the country 5 times. 4 of those times were with a purpose so no delays or distractions. I have made it across the country on a motorcycle in 3 days. I plan on doing another crossing of this type. An Iron Butt 50CC or coast to coast in 50 hours or less. I am leaving on a partial crossing in 2 weeks. I will ride to Pittsburgh, PA from Tucson AZ in 2 1/2 days then visit then ride to Elkins, WV then to Deal’s Gap TN to ride the Dragon’s Tail then I am returning to AZ via the Trans America Trail (www.transamtrail.com/about/). I plan on taking a ride after I retire with no planned itinerary just get up in the morning and decide “I think I’ll go that way today.”

226 Jamie Stanger May 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

When I was reading the little snip-it on here, I was reminded of the road trip I took with my crazy cousins. We took a trip across most of the western part of the country.

I was around 13 teen years old and my cousins were 10. It was such a blast I do believe I could write a book about this one. One of the most the biggest stories that stick out was we were in a little subura station wagon stuffed to the hilt with cargo, and not to mention towing a pop-up camper as well.

My uncle did all the driving while us boys were stuffed in the back amongst all the stuff. we had to take turns laying across the top of the cargo so we could all have a little room to sit on the seat, but only in rotation. We drove my Aunt and uncle crazy by singing a made up song about “pimples and sunshine”. I could go on about this story but I don’t have enough time for now. We stayed in camp grounds sneaking around the women showers to get a peak, There was even one camp ground in Colorado that had a boulder right under the womens shower window that was perfect!

What we thought of on that trip, we did it. It was such a blast, I would do it again. I am so looking forward to reading this book. I am sure it will bring back so many more memories to my remembrance that i may just have to write a short story myself. This is Jamie saying so long and have a great day..

Jamie

227 Jake May 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I would love to take that trip one day. I have a lot going on at the moment but definitely taking a trip like that with my best friend or future son would be awesome.

228 Mark G. May 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Left college with a vague idea of becoming a world traveler. In 1975 I was 20 years old, I packed up my GMC pickup and started heading west on US 2 from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I saw the Rockies for the first time, hiked across Yellowstone, backpacked in Glacier National Park. Met all kinds of interesting people, best time of my life! No responsibility total freedom. I stayed on the road for over six months then I finally figured out that one does need some type of income no matter how frugally you live.
Came back finished college, married, started a family and retired after 34 years with the same company. Now at the age of 58 I am formulating my plans to hit the road again, this time with my wife. She is excited to see some of the places that I have told her about.

229 Hilts May 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Two years ago, just before college started up again, my best friend, brother, and myself made a last minute trip to California (from northern Washington). My friend’s brother attends school down there and had been stuck with his mother’s old mini-van. Our main premise for going down was to switch cars with him. We took a four door 2000 nissan altima down. We stuck to I-5 on the way down and switched driving rotations. After leaving at 5 am we arrived outside Los Angeles at 3 in the morning. We visited for a few days and spent some time with some old friends before heading back. For our trip back I suggested taking the Pacific Coast Highway. We made it to San Francisco before dark. It was beautiful. Fog rolled in when we reached further North California. And the winding roads with the ocean waves clashing off to the left was slightly unsettling, but beautiful. After deciding we spent too much time traveling along the coast. We took a small state road that would cut us through and land us slightly north of the middle of Oregon. My friend and I stayed up, talking intermittently, but for the most part we sat for what seemed like hours in comfortable silence. We’ve been friends since before either of us could remember, so this wasn’t unusual. At some point along this depopulated stretch of road, we picked up two cars who followed us closely for more than forty-five minutes. Being in the middle of nowhere, we dredged up every vacation horror movie we’ve seen, movies like Joy Ride, and Deliverance. They’d box us in and then slow us down, and then the three of us would meet our untimely end. We laughed. My brother snored on in the back seat. That night we drove until we reached a rest stop some forty minutes outside of Portland and slept for two hours. I took the next shift and took in the beginnings of morning as I talked quietly with my father on the phone. The rest of the trip was uneventful, but I’m not likely to forget the trip nor the company I kept.

230 Erick Tijerina May 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I’m a huge Broncos fan so when I heard in 2004 that John Elway was being inducted at the Football Hall of Fame I just had to go. Well, it was a great road trip. I got free tickets to go the entire event and all I had to do was email them that I was interesting in going. Money was tight so I asked my best friend to go by car and he said yes. We traveled from San Antonio, TX to Canton, OH and it was awesome. We rented a small car but that is all we needed (we didn’t tell the rental place that we were traveling more than 1000 miles. Along the way we spoke about our careers, fears, family life, dreams, but best of all we were able to catch up on life. Once in OH, I was able to see my friend from PA and was able to catch up with stories. Those 6 days traveling back and forth were awesome and I would definetely do it once more.

231 Michael V May 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm

My first roadtrip was a short time after graduating from high school. I had never left the state of Wisconsin and was itching to see America. Three friends and I piled into an aging van and headed East along the Great Lakes. We had no destination or plans, but we found so much amazement driving along the lakes that we never let them out of our sight. The communities and natural beauty alongside the lakes are so underated today. That first 3 week drive stole my imagination and spawned many future roadtrips across the states. Will always be my favorite through.

232 Phil Haney May 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

We used to drive from California to Oklahoma every summer to visit my Grandma in Enid. Some day, I’d like to make a summer vacation out of driving Route 66 from one end to the other, stopping at every tourist-trap curio spot along the way…

233 Russ Cross May 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm

The only time I’ve ever been out of my home state of Indiana was when I was a little kid. We used to have a yearly family trip to Michigan. In the middle 60′s my older sister went on a class trip to New York City and Washington, DC. In the Late 70′s or early 80′s my kid brother went with some of his friends on a real road trip. They took Route 66 clear to the Pacific Ocean. I was kinda jealous. He came back with some good stories and pictures, though. Jobs and gas being the way they are these days, I doubt I will ever have the chance for an adventure of this sort.

234 Brian Hartfield May 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

The summer I turned 10 my single mom took my brothers and I on a road trip with the destination being Disney World. We left our small town in Texas and made our way to Orlando but not before we stopped in New Orleans for a few days. It was truly an amazing trip – not just the destination of Disney World but the whole Gulf Coast that we saw along the way. We had a destination and stops sort of planned – but made everything else up along the way. It is amazing to think that no tickets were bought or rooms booked in advance; everything happened as we went along.

235 Ed May 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I need the road. I need to get out. TO see and touch and to do more than what I have. It is the nomad in me that wants to get out and then return to home to find it different and new.

236 David Mize May 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Hitchhiked from Raleigh, NC to Seattle, WA with my best friend summer of 2007. One of the best experiences of my life!

237 Scott W. May 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I have 2 road trips of memorable significance. The first was from Green Bay to Houston at the end of my junior year in college. It was for an internship. All my life I wanted to work in space and before even leaving college I got to work on the International Space Station. The hours of driving leading into days of driving the north/south route across the country was the corridor to my new life. How significant that I got to spend it alone, with my thoughts, as I plan out the next phase of my life. Oh, and I blew a tire on the way back. Hot, fully loaded pick-up truck, and hoping the jack will hold the entire loaded weight because I was in no mood to empty the truck bed. It was my fastest tire change ever. Why? Because of the empty bullet shell resting on the side of road right where the slit sidewall of my tire had stopped.

The second road trip was from Chicago to Seattle. My internship lead to a full time position with a minor aviation/aerospace company then headquartered in Seattle. I had already been there for a while, but I was moving my girlfriend (soon to be fiance and wife) out there to do one of her rotations required to complete her degree. I flew to the Midwest, loaded up her beat up old Dodge Neon so we couldn’t see out the back window, and started westward. Aside from no air conditioning and a terrible smell on day two from an oil leak burning off a hot manifold, the trip together marked the passage of our new life together.

Funny how the open road and long trips mark significant transitions in our lives.

238 Joseph Ramirez May 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

At the age of 18 I left the California coast with my parents and sister on a cross country road trip to NY. I was going to attend college in Rochester. I had never before been to the state or seen the school. It looked like a good one and we were just going to see where life took me. The open road along the way was and appetizer for things to come. In Wyoming about 100 miles from Hawk Springs my water pump went out. As the tow truck driver came he announced, “Won’t find parts for one of these ’round here.” as he looked at my Mitsubishi. We ended up spending a few days in the town but was one of the best trips ever.

239 Mike W Taylor May 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm

The first time I drove cross country (Plymouth, MA to San Luis Obispo, CA) was mid-September 2001. All flights were grounded and I was supposed to start college on September 15th. We loaded up my neighbor’s van and hit the road to try to get there in time. Every overpass along the route had an American flag or poster or other words of support an tribute. People in diners and hotels were still in shock from what happened. It was an odd time to be crossing the country. I was only 18, we did it in about 3 days, and I wish I had had more time to appreciate what I was doing.
In 2012, I did a proper cross country tour. The wife and I had just got married, we decided to quit our jobs and drive around the country for 2 months! We started in Phoenix, AZ and took a southern route east, then up to Maine and Canada, zig-zaging through the northeast, and midwest till we reached Seattle, WA, then south again. We camped, we stayed with friends in family. We only ate at small local places. We tried to say off main freeways and take the back roads. We had no map and no plans. It was the best experience of my life so far. (The wife blogged about it each day, check out mikeandandi.com for the blog and photos)

240 Colin B May 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I drove from Ohio to Colorado with some college roommates for spring break one year. 18 hours on a bench seat in a truck. The one aspect I did enjoy and felt I grew from (which I realized after the fact) was being forced to talk out every little tiff we had along the way. There was an opportunity to sit in complete silence, but most of the time we were left to talking through our thoughts/feelings, something that isn’t easy for men (especially young ones).

241 Ben L. May 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I have always wanted to make this trip. I’m 18 now, and leaving for the Navy soon. There isn’t enough time..

I always thought it would be really fun to start from where i am (Minneapolis, MN) and drive to California or Key West, FL. and of course, it wouldn’t be in some fancy new car.. It would have to be in a older vehicle. Lets say, like a Mercury Lynx. Some things i would expect to experience would probably the realization that, yes, we are smaller than we think we are. When i hear “across country road trip” i think of the car loaded up with the friends, not a care in the world, and going for whatever comes our way. Random, and perfectly fine with it. Something to look back and say “That was the trip that really got us close”.

Thanks for the story, i love hearing about other peoples trips. I hope the Ford wasn’t damaged too much.

242 Dan May 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I have not taken a cross-country road trip yet, but it sure is on my bucket list. One trip I would love to do is a trip that visits every NHL arena. I’d catch a game at each arena and look at the local sights.

243 Adam May 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I’ve gone all over the country on trips with my parents when I was younger, but never anything with just me and a friend. Would love to do it some time soon.

244 Dan R May 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm

In 1974, my best friend and college room mate drove from Tampa, FL to Los Angeles, CA. It was a fantastic journey, passing through Louisville, KY, St. Louis and Kansas City, MO, Denver, CO, until we came to rest a couple of days in Provo, Utah. The last leg of our trip took us through Las Vegas and finally a week in L.A. A wonderful experience.

245 Joshtheorange May 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Every summer I’d drive my Chevy Astro cargo van from California to Atlanta, and back again. Whether it was my first few years in Santa Cruz, my second few in Los Angeles, or the remainder in San Francisco, each trip contained the excrutiating glory of the unexpected.
I’ve had a Salt Lake City father put his cigarette out in my coffee at McD’s, probably because I had long hair and an earring (this was 1990, folks). I’ve woken up gasping and wheezing at 4am because my sealed and packed van in which I slept was low on oxygen. I’ve had to outrun a tornado, an apocalyptic hail storm, and swarms of gargantuan mosquitos all within a 12 hour stretch of Kansas or Nebraska, I forget which.
But I also went fishing with my Grandpa one last time on the Mighty Mississippi. I got so high in Colorado that I forgot how to breath. I’ve seen a sky so big and full of stars that pulling over to the side of the road so I could climb up on the roof and lay on my back just seemed like the only thing in the world to do at that moment. And that moment ended up lasting for hours.
There is nothing – NOTHING – on this earth that is what a road trip across the United States is. I feel lucky to have done it, and to be sure, I will encourage my son to do the same when he comes of age. It’s a part of me. Part of the road I’ve travelled and continue to travel, and I’m thankful for it.

Thanks for reminding me.

246 Anthony Day May 25, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I was fortunate enough to be invited along for a drive across the county when my friend from Florida got a summer job in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state in the summer of 2001. I was 32 at the time and was about to embark on the great American road trip. After picking me up in NC we drove pretty hard and fast through about 7 states before we starting slowing down to enjoy the vastness of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. From small places like Wall Drug and the Corn Palace, to enormous sites such a Rushmore and Yellowstone, we saw as much as we could in the time we had. My friend’s dad passed away while we were stopped in Jackson, WY. She flew home and drove alone through Idaho, Montana and finally Washington. Several days later she joined me again in Seattle. She stayed and I flew home. I agree that a road trip across this great and vast country of ours is an absolutely amazing experience, a rite of passage, and one for the bucket list. I highly recommend it.

247 Taylor M. May 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Reading On the Road really made me want to take a road trip. Perhaps with a little more prep than Kerouac, but sometimes the best things happen when there are no plans.

248 Tom May 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Unfortunately, I’ve never taken part in an independent road trip. I’ve merely gone on vacations with my parents and, while they were wonderful, I can’t say I could appreciate them on the same level as a journey with my peers.

249 Tom May 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm

I drove across the country from MD to CA four years ago, by myself. Heading to create a new life for myself.

That life still followed me there. There’s no escaping that past.

And now I find myself yearning to drive across the country again. Not to escape a life, but to experience a grander one.

250 Joel Beckum May 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

My first great road trip was a humble thing next to these others, but it meant a great deal to me. I grew up in south Georgia, and my family never did much traveling beyond brief amusement park forays to Tampa or camping in Alabama. When I went off to college, it was to a university only a brief two hours from my hometown.

That spring break, I bailed on my plans midway through the week and decided to take a road trip to Indiana to see a pen pal,and I was going to stop at every interesting place I saw between home and Lafayette. I took all of twenty minutes to plan the trip, and I informed my parents of my plans with all the manly gravity an eighteen-year-old can muster. My mother tried very sweetly to tell me it was a terrible idea to go romping off by myself and don’t you know, more and more people are getting kidnapped right off the road nowadays. Dad just opened his wallet, handed me forty dollars to augment my woefully underestimated gas fund, and said, “you know we’re proud of you, son. Be smart.”

Four days, four city skylines, a dozen sightseeing stops, two averted Tennessee blues bar fights, one car-totaling accident and a hundred happy memories later, and it was by far the best trip I ever took.

251 Peter L May 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Being an Army brat, long distance traveling was just a part of life. Moving to New Jersey from Germany at the age of 1, we would drive the 3 hours to Pennsylvania to see my dad’s family multiple times per year. Can’t say I remember much from these trips except being proud to tell my Grandma the first time I stayed awake for the entire trip and my sister and I having to keep our legs on the seat because our Beagle threw up on the floor. By the age of 4, my dad was stationed in North Carolina. The trips to Pennsylvnia weren’t as frequent (every Christmas and during the summer maybe every other year), but I started to remember the trips more. I always waited to see the giant statue of the Virgin Mary above the Mount Saint Mary Catholic University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. For some reason, I just loved seeing it and it still sticks in my mind. We would also drive around North Carolina, from the coast to the mountains and everything in between. It is like a microcosm of the country. My dad was stationed in Kansas when I was ten. We took our time getting there, taking 5 days to drive around, see the sights of what was once the nation’s frontier. It’s funny, we got walkie talkies so my dad and I (driving the ’87 Dodge Shadow) could talk with my mom and sister (driving the ’91 Voyager), we had tested everything the night before, no problems, as soon as we left, they couldn’t hear us, faulty equipment I suppose. But the trip was wonderful. Watching the snow melt in the Appalachians creating waterfalls all around us in North Carolina and Tennessee. Driving through the western tip of Kentucky and the southern tip of Illinois. Watching the mountains and forests slowly turn into plains of grass and farmland. We woke up to snow in St. Louis, slowly tapering to a near perfect cool late winter day. Nothing better then seeing the frost on the windows, the steam escaping rooftops from office buildings and houses, everyone bundled up. As we came into Kansas, snow dusting the ground, the weather as beautiful as you could ask for. After my freshman year of college, my dad planned a trip for us to see Colorado and Utah. We spent a week and half driving all over Colorado. There is nothing like coming up to the Rocky Mountains from I-70, thinking I was seeing clouds on the horizon, I was amazed to learn I was actually seeing mountains. I had never seen anything so big. We stayed in Idaho Springs that first night, seeing Rams up a cliff outside of our hotel room balcony. We ended up seeing Mesa Verde, Durango, then on to Utah to see Arches and the San Rafael Swell, finally ending our trip for a little more relaxation in Glennwood Springs before returning home. After I graduated, I took my next trip sans family with my girlfriend to visit her grandparents in North Dakota and dad in Montana. Again, just seeing the sights along the way. For those that think Kansas is flat, you have no idea what flat is until you go to North Dakota. And to go from there to Montana was just like visiting Colorado again. Coming back we drove through Yellowstone which is among my favorite places I’ve ever been. So much natural beauty there for the viewing. From geysers to springs to wildlife. Seeing the sunset along the mountains before finally making our way out is one of the most gorgeous sights I have seen. The purples, the reds, the oranges, the pinks. I remember the sights, but it was also a time to bond. When one is in a military family, you learn to get along with your immediate family, they are all you have for the most part. These trips helped us bond and grow together, has kept us close. I may not have traveled through the US in one trip, but I think doing it even as “slow” as we did is a travesty. There is so much to see, so much to experience. You do learn something from these trips, whether it is about yourself or other people… or both. They are something I can’t wait to share with my future family. To let them have a taste of all the world has to offer if you just take a second to look.

252 Dan May 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Been years since I had a road trip, but in 10 days I’m leaving on one. Can’t wait. Georgia to California with a buddy. Looking forward to shooting the breeze, seeing sights, and relaxing in motel pools at night.

253 Chase May 25, 2012 at 3:46 pm

I have been lucky to drive through our country on a few occasions. However, i am most excited for my upcoming road trip from the east coast to the Golden Gate.
I will earn my masters degree, then pack my car (Manual Honda Fit) and start to drive. I plan to take a month, maybe more, couchsurfing, camping, and Hostel-ing my way up and down and around as many states and interesting cities and places as possible. After being a slave to my research, this will be a trip of complete freedom and independence; I will only be oppressed by my gas tank and my wallet. I have a map on my wall, with a dozens of waypoints circled, all i have to do is connect the dots however i see fit.

254 Seth May 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I once broke up with my past girlfriend 10 minutes into a 24 hour road trip back to Oklahoma from the Redwoods. During our trip we experienced all of the phases of a breakup within that time.

255 Matt Lowery May 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm

When I was about 7 years old, my Dad and my mom had just gone through a divorce leaving me and my little brother wondering what was going on in our lives. Our dad decided that in order to make us understand how he felt and that he still loved his boys, we should go on a road trip. Some of the details are a little fuzzy but there are some vivid memories of that trip. We left from the northern part of Georgia and made our way up to New York City along the east coast. Along the way we made several stops in Virginia, Washington DC and several stops in New York. I can remember thinking as we made our way up to the plexi-glass windows in the Statue of Liberty, “Wow, these windows are so fuzzy that you can’t see anything!” We continued looking around the city and we decided that we really wanted to see the Zoo. In order to get there we had to make our way down to the subway, which we had never been on before, and fight our way through the crowds of people. At one point, as we tried to make our way towards the platform, we began getting overrun by several people. Now my dad has always been a laborer, a carpenter by trade, so he has always been fairly muscular although he is not a large man. He stood at about 5’6″ and there were several people towering over us. Dad could see that my brother and I were being overrun and that is when I saw my dad, all 5’8″ of him, spread his arms over our heads and push back 3 or 4 people without a moments hesitation. At that moment my dad was truly one of my heroes. I don’t remember many things about that trip because of everything that was happening in our lives at hte moment but right then I knew that Dad would always take care of us. That is my best memory of an American Road Trip.

256 Ben Thompson May 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm

After I moved back from 2 years of mission work in Tanzania, one of my best friends and I road tripped from central Alabama to Punxsutawney, PA for the Groundhog Day Festival. We stopped at whatever looked interesting. Took twice as long as it should. We ate at small diners, talked to small town people. It really was a great way to grow together and appreciate our nation and it’s people better.

257 clayton blackwood May 25, 2012 at 5:06 pm

This past July I returned home after spending 13 months in Afghanistan. My wife agreed to work things out with me and go see a councilor. We had been separated. Her and my son were at her moms house in Kansas. So i came home loaded up my Isuzu rodeo and hit the road. I drove from Virginia beach to Wichita Kansas. I took plenty of breaks every chance i could along the way to reflect on how lucky i was i survived Afghanistan and more then that, my wife wanted me back. It was a long road trip but verry worth it.

258 Phil Black May 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Before our sons were born My dad and I threatened each other that we should drive from Toronto to Puerto Vallarta Mexico…4500km each way.So we did it in ’98. It was the best Road Trip I ever took (My Wife and Mother Flew down, because they thought we had gone crazy)…Sadly many men have forgotten the simple joys of driving long distances and seeing the world through a wind screen. (They prefer Computer Screens….Nothing too manly about that)

259 Jimmy May 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I work at a summer camp where we get one day off a week, and during that day our group usually road trips. Well, we hadn’t decided where to go yet- so fifteen minutes into our drive we decided we’d go to the Grand Canyon. We got there in the early morning, slept for a bit and headed to the rim. Unfortunately, it was raining and we couldn’t see anything. the entire canyon was mist… but then it started opening up. I have never seen a more awe-inspiring sight. the Grand Canyon just appeared before our eyes. In two hours it was completely sunny and overall an amazing trip. Rad trips are some of my favorite memories.

260 Jeremy Trowbridge May 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm

The day after we were married, my wife and I drove from Denver, CO to South Carolina where I’ve been stationed for the past 3 years. For both of us it was a wonderful trip/honeymoon getting to know ourselves and our great country even more. For me though it was a time of blessing. I spent every hour driving thinking how lucky I was to be just married and serving this huge country I was currently driving across. My advice to any one who hasn’t been across the country: Do it. We spent billions to make our roads to better connect us. Get out there and enjoy!

261 Nicholas May 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I havent been on a cross country road trip. My fiance and I want to go michigan to arizona next summer, we’ll see if it pans out though.

262 Kerry Thompson May 25, 2012 at 7:00 pm

In 2009 and again in 2010 I borrowed a F150 round body pick up from a friend and drove a 7000 mile loop around America in search of employment. From Michigan westward to IN, IL IA,NE, CO, up to WY, west to Idaho and south to Utah, NV, AZ across to NM, TX, LA, MI AL, FL, North to GA, SC, NC, WV, PA, NY, through Ontario and Back to MI. Everyone should see America. Driving through the Tetons during a snow storm from Jackson Hole to Idaho falls, or From St. George Utah through Zions National Park and across to Lake Powell. The Sunset in Tucumcari can only be surpasses by the sunrise in the Louisiana bayou where the mist rises with the birds and the sun turns the trees to a golden mythical neverland. From the coasts of Corpus Christi to the shores of Lake Huron this country will bring delight to the downtrodden, hope to the hopeless and inner strength to the weakened heart. If it wasn’t the strength of the Rockies it was the pioneer stock of the settlers that still live there that lifted me up. The hospitality of an Inn Keeper in Sweetwater TN or the pragmatic advise of a Trucker in Ft Wayne IN convinced me that The good old USA is hardy, unsinkable and tough as nails. Everywhere I went I saw people working, planting rice in Arkansas, cultivating corn in Iowa, hauling goods across the country and most of all raising productive families. Everyone should see this. Everyone should get up, get out and see just how magnificent this land and free citizens of the country we call America has become.

263 Mr. X May 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Awesome. We will all be dead before we know it. In one’s old age, one does not want the sadness of thinking, “Where has it all gone, and why haven’t I done…”

264 Christopher M May 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm

At 22 years of age, I haven’t had the opportunity to go across the country, but I aspire to make a circuit around the edges, and experience the many cultures available within our own borders.

265 Steve Hannafon May 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Me and my siblings have fond memories of driving from Syracuse, NY to Albuquerque, NM in a Mercury station wagon in ’63 when Dad got stationed at Kirkland AFB. Mom and Dad took turns driving while we kids (plus a Poodle and Siamese cat) kept ourselves busy singing and fighting with one another in the back seat. One trip highlight was a motel room with a bed that vibrated when you put a quarter in it. I loved everything about the trip: truckers, mountains, deserts, car sickness, rest stops. My brothers, sister and I became best friends. It is true that children of military men develop close bonds because of constant moving. 3 years later we traveled the reverse trip from NM back to NY to be with family because Dad got orders for Vietnam. Still had the dog and cat with us, and another brother this trip all packed into the same Mercury wagon. Childhood road trip memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

266 Charles LeBlanc May 25, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I haven’t gone across country yet, but I want it to be a life changing spiritual journey

267 Josh May 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm

2006 Kentucky-New York-Boston-Kentucky
A college buddy and I were determined to go on a road trip. We packed the car down and headed north arriving in Times Square at dawn. Our mission: a Jack Keruoac worthy “On the Road”esque trip. After roaming the city for two days, eating and drinking (nothing particularly good due to limited culinary knowledge) we left the big city headed to the main attraction: Fenway Park. We roamed Boston with the same intentions as NYC eating and drinking as much as possible with two Red Sox games mixed in. When we finally made it home: broke and exhausted, I realized that Kentucky was the place I was meant to be, and my next adventure was to begin, family.

268 Tom G. May 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Oregon-Louisiana

Oregon is home, drove to college in Louisiana. First time was with my folks – their dream had always been to drive me to college and drop me off, so they darn well did (for more than two and a half thousand miles). It was a spectacular drive – we took our time, and I really got to know my parents better than I ever had.

I did the same drive two years later with a friend when I drove my car down to college. We looked up all of the places to eat along the way, and made it a very food-centric trip. Turned into a lot more than that, and she is still one of my closest friends.

I can’t wait for the next road trip adventure.

269 Allan Pemberton May 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm

My last big road trip was 3 years ago. We flew to Edmonton Alberta and then drove 9 hours to our sons place in Rainbow Lake. We saw some beautiful country, the Rocky Mountains and a lot of wildlife.
This summer we plan to drive to New Hampshire from Nova Scotia for a NASCAR event travelling down the coastline and back through the White Mountains… can’t wait.

270 Doug D. May 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I’ve never been cross country, but if I ever get the chance I’m going to try to make it with my best friend. During one road trip in college with some friends we managed to keep a conversation going for the entire 8 hour drive. My best friend and I wouldn’t need to do that because we too are comfortable with silence, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we wound up doing it anyway because that’s just how we are. Maybe one day….

271 Robert May 25, 2012 at 8:23 pm

As a young man of 22 I have had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to 31 states and 9 different countries. Having said that, I have never had the pleasure of road-tripping cross-country.
However, my father loves to tell the story of his favorite road trip. My father graduated high school in Jacksonville, FL in 1966. At that time Interstate 10 actually started on the sand at Jacksonville Beach. After graduation he and 2 of his best friends from high school loaded up a Volkswagen Beetle and left the sand onto I-10 and traveled to Los Angeles and onto the beach of the Pacific Ocean. They went from the sands of the east coast to the west entirely on I-10. I envy his experience and hope to do something similar one day.

272 Joe May 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I am a big proponent of long road trips! I think it stems from my dad, who was a college professor until I was in the ninth grade and was fond of packing family and tent into the Family Truckster and driving to far away places most summers. My wife, our three kids, and I have done three big multi-week road trips as a family – Yellowstone, New England, and the Gulf Coast. I wish we’d done more while the kids were younger. They usually grumbled at the start of each trip, and fought some along the way, but I think they enjoyed each one. I sure did.

273 John May 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I really wish that I’d gone on a road trip at some point. Right now i’ve just gotten out of college and I’m looking into grad school. I still haven’t gone on a real road trip. When I do, and I will, I want to simply travel west. I don’t care where I go, but I want to see everything there is to see on the way there. I’d listen to nothing but radio the whole time, because when you’re in a region, you should damn sure listen to its music.

274 Aatin Dhanda May 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm

I haven’t actually gone one a cross country road trip, but I have traveled half of the east coast. It was probably one of the more enjoyable trips I have taken. Best part of the trip was D.C. Because of all the government buildings and such. Of course, I was only 11 years old. I look forward to another similar trip within the future.

275 Joe B May 25, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Good friends, random stuff happening, I love the silence of the night drive when everyone else is sleeping except for the girl that you like ;). My dad has an old International truck with 4 gas tanks (2-12 gal in front, 2-15 gal in the back…yeah, a lot of gas on one true fill up!) and we would go up to Canada to a cabin we had to boat in to. I remember we all had CB handles and my cousins and I would talk back n forth. Good times.

276 Harry M May 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

1976, the day after high school graduation, me and my 2 closest friends headed south from Wilmington, Delaware, to Tampa, where Bob’s parents had a condo. We were driving straight through, 18 hours, in Bob’s stick shift Vega with an 8 track player. We switched drivers south of D.C., Alan was going to drive. That’s when we discovered that Alan couldn’t drive a standard transmission.

We stopped at South of the Border; the signs had taunted us for miles. We had to have a bowl of the famous chili. Walking around the back of the chili stand, we saw the empty cans from Campbells.

Driving into Ocala FL, I almost ran off the road by falling asleep. When we finally got to Tampa, Bob and I got some sleep, but all I could see when I closed my eyes was the white line on the highway, curving away from the headlights.

I discovered that a road trip is a good thing, something to anticipate, not avoid; that driving long distances at night takes some prep and a good nights sleep beforehand, but if your eyelids start to droop, pull over; knowing how to drive a stick is handy; and finally, don’t be disillusioned if the chili comes from a can, its all part of the road, so enjoy it and drive on.

277 Todd May 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm

I was 21 when my band decided to do a cross Canada tour. We too had car trouble, our beater of a van caught fire just outside Brandon Manitoba. Burned to nothing but a shell, lucky our gear was in the trailer which was fairly unharmed. We rented a van for the rest of our journey and none of us will ever forget that tour!

278 James May 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I’m from Massachusetts, when I joined the air force I got stationed in California and decided to make the drive from Cape Cod to San Francisco with my brother. We got a late start and were on a deadline to get out there, but we wanted to see at least one great American landmark, so we planned our route so we would stop in Buffalo and see Niagara Falls. We got there at night and almost missed it, completely mistaking it for a smaller waterfall further downstream. We eventually did find and get to see it.

My biggest regret of the trip was driving through the Rockies at night. It was so dark up there that we couldn’t see a thing.

We finished the journey in a little over two days. I’m planning a backpacking trip when I finish my enlistment in order to get back home.

279 David May 25, 2012 at 10:52 pm

As a kid, my family often took road trips out west, going to Mt. Rushmore, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Salt Lake City and countless other, less-famous places. Some were for skiing, some for camping. The most dramatic was the last one – when my parents had three drivers in addition to themselves, so we never had to stop for the night. I was riding shotgun with my brother driving the van through Nebraska in the wee hours of the morning – my job was to keep him alert and awake. However, that job doesn’t work so well when both are sleep-deprived, and I distinctly remember several instances of drifting within inches of a truck trailer to one side or another before veering away. I’m still not sure if he was drifting in and out of sleep, or fully awake and under control, and just enjoyed hearing my panicked exclamations when I noticed.

280 Kevin Mikolajczak May 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm

A cross country road trip has been on my radar since I got my license back in 1992. I think next year I am going to stop over thinking it, load up the Durango with my camping gear, and drag my teenage son from NJ to the left coast!!! I will make time for this!!!

281 jsallison May 26, 2012 at 12:55 am

A year or two ago I drove from Lawton, OK to Fresno, CA and back for business. It taught me that el-cheapo sunglasses are absolutely non-starters. Upgraded to ray-bans and haven’t been inflicted with headaches/eyestrain since.

I’m also convinced that the absolute best place to deposit life-sized raptor silhouettes is I-40 between Flagstaff and Ash Fork, AZ. Tuck them behind the lodge pole pines so that they peek out from behind the pines. It’ll be on H2 in days with that idiot Giorgio A. Tsoukalos swearing that there’s aliens on the horizon.

282 Frank May 26, 2012 at 1:09 am

When I was 13, my grandparents took me for a road trip that covered almost all of the Western US. We left TX and headed North, then made our way West until we made it to OR. My grandparents taught me some valuable life lessons on that trip and have left me with many fine memories.

283 Tyler Freeman May 26, 2012 at 1:39 am

After reading Kerouac’s “On the Road”, it has always been a passion of mine to travel and truly experience what our great country has to offer. Having freshly graduated college, I am just now reaching that point in my life where I can. This June, my fiancé and I intend to go on a road trip throughout the southwest for our honeymoon. Oddly enough, we too only have one solid destination and that’s the Grand Canyon, which neither of us have seen before.

284 Orac May 26, 2012 at 1:39 am

I first made this trip 25 years ago. I was a senior in college, and a very good friend needed to get himself and his full size Chevy van conversion from California to his new internship on Wall Street. My friend was a foreign student from Lebanon, and he had no idea what the center part of the US was like. We went out of our way to see some obscure sights, especially in the Midwest. For every Pikes Peak there was a Carhenge. After a detour to Virginia to visit my family we braved the heavy traffic of the eastern seaboard to get to NYC. Have you ever tried to park a full size van in Manhattan?

There was a lot of bonding done on that trip. Sadly, a year later my friend told me that his Muslim faith made it impossible for him to continue to be my friend. No harm, no foul…not everyone wants to or is capable of rising above the dictates and restrictions of their culture. But once a brother, always a brother in my book.

I’ve since made the trip cross country on my motorcycle. A completely different experience, and an equally valuable one. Especially since I didn’t take the direct route that time. But that’s a story for another time.

285 Claude May 26, 2012 at 3:24 am

I was 19 years old, doing my air force service, and 1000 miles from home.

I had some time off and I decided late on the Friday, what the heck, I’m hitchin home.

It took me 27 hours, which was pretty good going. I got some really great rides, with my longest wait around 1 in the morning.

An enduring memory is pulling in to the filling station just after sunrise, and somebody’s stereo was playing Mirror in the Bathroom by Madness.

It was a sublime moment.

I live in South Africa, and my dream is to do Route 66 on a rented Harley cruiser.

I’ve see it in enough movies, and I want to experience it for myself.

Yee-Hah!

286 Justin D May 26, 2012 at 8:43 am

The only road trip I’ve been on was going from Tacoma, WA to Lewiston, ID, and I was about 10 at the time. Taking a nice, long roadtrip is definitely in the plans, given I can trade my truck in for something that is better on gas and I can afford the gas.

The ideal road trip would be the classic tourist destinations, of course, but also the hole-in-the-wall places you find along the way. Places that give that particular area or region a unique identity of it’s own, which is something that is running in short supply it seems, with all the fast-food franchises and ‘cookie-cutter’ stores of the big chains that are popping up everywhere.

287 Jason May 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

I live in Canada, and am ashamed to say I have never made the cross-country trek. My best freind and I used to talk about driving across Canada when we were in our teens and early twenties, but it just never happened. Now, we’re rapidly approaching middle age, and the pressures of work and family make it unlikely, for the immediate future at least. I hope to some day make the drive from coast to coast. I have visited nearly every region of Canada, but have flown to some of those destinations. As the author of the post said, the experience is not the same; you lose a sense of connectedness you get with driving the open road. A cross-Canada road-trip is definitely on the “bucket list”!

288 Elliott May 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

Almost 10 years ago, whenever I was 20 I was in a band. Thinking we were destined for stardom, I booked a month long tour across the western half of the country. At the time I lived in Dallas and we went from Dallas to L.A., to Seattle, to Chicago and back with a plethora of different stops in between. One of the moments I remember specifically was stopping half way between Los Angeles and San Fransisco at a gas station that had gas for $2.35 a gallon. We took a picture because we thought it was so expensive. I also got to bowl with Doug Stanhope in Omaha, got in fights in Phoenix, and discovered macaroni and cheese nuggets in Madison among other countless stories. Once we made it back to Texas I had around eleven cents to my name but that is one experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

About nine months ago I lost my job and moved from Texas to South Carolina (I’ve got family here) and I took an extended trip out here. I got to stay at the Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale, Mississippi (If you ever go through there, that’s where you want to stay), sleep in a teepee and go diamond mining in Arkansas, visit the Jack Daniels distillery and more. I’m moving back home in a few weeks, but I’m thinking that a summer road trip is going to become a regular thing in my life from now on.

289 samW May 26, 2012 at 9:38 am

sounds like a good book – would love to win & read! We did a lot of cross country trips when we were kids, would really like to do one now with my kids. Thanks for the inspiration!

290 Levi Wadd May 26, 2012 at 9:59 am

2010, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Colorado, all the way back to Virginia with 3 friends in an old Crown Victoria. Some of the best days of my life for sure and an incredible way to see such a large country! Two weeks was nowhere even close to enough time.

291 Phil Garcia May 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

I have to say, my family roadtrips to Wisconsin were always exceedingly fun. Whether we were getting random gas station food or stopping to gaze at a sight, it was always the best.

292 Phil Garcia May 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

I have to say, as a kid, my family roadtrips to Wisconsin were always exceedingly fun. Whether we were getting random gas station food or stopping to gaze at a sight, it was always the best.

293 Tyler May 26, 2012 at 10:38 am

I’m from Minnesota but went to college in Florida. I never once made the trip by airplane since it was cheaper for me and my wife to drive. We aways drove a little Chevy S10 with a bunch of stuff in the back so we never stopped at hotels because we couldn’t put the stuff anywhere. We made this trip 6-7 times and found that when we’re in a car for that long it’s incredibly important to watch what you eat. If you have lunch at McDonalds after the first few miles you will definitely feel it after the 15th hour. Energy drinks like Red Bull can also kill you if aren’t careful. I would use a 5 hour energy and only drink the Red Bull if there are only a few hours left.

When I graduated my wife moved some stuff up early so I had to make the 26 hour non-stop trip by myself. I documented it on our little camcorder and I think I definitely had a minor case of cabin fever towards the end….

294 Ryan May 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

I’m an Aussie, and lucky enough to have driven all over my country, but it astounds me how few people ever do it. Each trip I’ve made has been a fantastic time, and as you say, it’s always a learning experience, internally and externally. When I was in the Navy I was also lucky enough to circumnavigate Australia as well. Nothing makes you prouder to be a defender of your country than seeing just how beautiful and precious it is. My favourite experience was being stranded at a remote outback town called Tenants Creek, and hitch-hiking my way back across the desert to Alice Springs. It’s times like that that give you stories to tell your kids.

295 NT Currie May 26, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’ve done a lot of travel in my short time with the Army so far, actually in France right now to train with the French Commandos for a few more weeks, but this summer I’ve been planning a trip with my older brother to go around a bit in the US. After reading this I think me and my brother are going to have to find some time in the next couple years to do a nice long cross country trip. You convinced me.

296 Sten May 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

Remember meeting a buddy of mine in Berrien Springs, MI when I was 23 and driving to San Jose, CA. What stood out to me was getting off the interstate and following the back roads through southeastern Iowa. It was getting dark and raining and needed a place to stay. Found a campsite at Lake Darling State park and pitched out tent in the rain. Nothing like being out in nature and hearing the rain lull us to sleep. Loved going through Pella, Iowa and the college town Boulder, CO. Would love my next road trip to be following the length of US 50 from Sacramento to Ocean City, MD. The 3,000 mile trip would surely expand my appreciation for the country we live in – the people, the landscape, and the transportation network.

297 george g. May 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I’ve never driven across the country but I always wanted to. When i was 23 , i decided to journey to Washington,Dc to apply for ninja warrior. While I didn’t get picked for the show on my way back home it started to snow. I have driven thru the snow before they weren’t cleaning the roads had to shut the interstate down because too many people were crashing their car or causing huge pileups. I was snowed in my car for 5 hours, I only survived by using the skills I Learned from art of manliness.

298 Ron H. May 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

When I was in high school, me and 3 friends would always take road trips. I don’t remember everything we talked about but I do remember the music. This article reminded me of those times.

299 patrick May 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I have never taken a cross-country road trip- at least west (which is where I would want to go). I live in Ohio, which seems like a good place to depart from, both logistically and for good reason. I have two little boys under 2, and cannot wait to take them on the epic trip that I have never been on.

300 David May 26, 2012 at 5:44 pm

After we graduated high school, a good friend and I set out from Austin, TX to San Francisco. We took our time with it and made it in about 4 days. We decided to take the route going through Colorado, Nevada, and Utah rather than drive through NM and AZ (we’d both seen the Grand Canyon, but if you haven’t, go!) We spent some time in SF, then decided to drive back the other way (NM and AZ). The bond we formed during these two weeks on the road is indescribable.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter