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:

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 }

301 Eric May 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm

My first cross country trip happened when I was three and my family moved from Washington state to North Carolina. Since then I’ve driven cross country at least six times and I still haven’t had a chance to see the grand canyon.

302 Ed May 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I’m still in college but my friends and I have always wanted to make a cross country trip. If I did make the trip, I’d enjoy driving through the open country areas with the windows down and singing songs.

303 Jason May 26, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Living in the middle of the US allows us to enjoy driving both to the East coast, where I grew up, and to the West coast. Then driving South, deep South, where my wife is from has given me memories that will last a lifetime. I’m sure like most of you with a busy work life we don’t get to travel as often as we’d like, and that’s unfortunate. Each road trip I’ve been on has been without a doubt a life altering event. I just right now thought of our common godfather, Mr. James Brown. …..somewhere on the way, you might find out who you are. My person, my being is different because of the road trips I’ve taken. Godspeed.

304 AaronW May 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Spent nearly four weeks on the road 17 years ago with my best friend. Hadn’t traveled much up until then and indeed experienced so many amazing sights – Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Death Valley, just to name a few. Got to do some cool stuff like fire a Thompson gun, and countless other things I can’t even think of right now.

305 Nathan May 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm

When I was almost 9 my family moved from Vancouver to New York – about 3,000 miles. It took us 4 days to road trip across the northern states of America (a full day and a half for Montana) with 4 cats in our van and a giant moving truck with the rest of our stuff. North Dakota and Montana were the most memorable states mainly because they were so barren to my eyes. The small SubWay in the middle of NO WHERE and back roads made of red rock that stretched for miles seem distant in my memory, but still profound because of where I am in life today because of that move across the border and into another country.

306 Jim May 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm

The best roadtrips are the ones where nothing is planned, just pick a direction and drive until you run out of money or you run out of time. It’s always fun to see the little places that never make it into the travel guides.

307 Nathan May 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Never been on a road trip… really want to go though…

308 eddie rep May 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Drove from Los Angeles to Cabo San Lucas and back with of my best friends in a well built old Chevy truck. Got drunk in tequilla in Tiujana. Fished the sea of Cortez in Bahia de Los Angeles. Went to a Mexican Christmas bailar with our fishing guide, he brought us a case of beer and as many firecrackers as we could light. Communed with the earth at Roys eco resort a bit further south. Bought some great art in Todos Santos and had a one night stand in Cabo.

309 Robert Markovetz May 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I have never taken a cross-country roadtrip and hope to someday. During my 28 years in the Army, I was able to visit almost every state and territory, and know that there are many more marvels out there for me to explore. This is truly an awesome country. There are incredible people and sites to to see in every state and territory. I intend to get a RV when I retire and just start driving. I don’t plan on ever looking back and returning home. I want to explore as much of this great country as I can before I die. Life is too short to not visit as much of God’s green earth as you can. I plan on hiking, camping, and fishing in every one of the 50 states before I die. I have a long way to go to accomplish that feat, but I am determined to make it happen. There would be nothing manlier than to spend the rest of my life in pursuit of my dream. God bless all of the men and women that have served this country so honorably. I salute your sacrifice and dedication to your country. Happy Memorial Day to everyone. If you are on a great American roadtrip, please drive safely and arrive home alive.

310 Brad May 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I took an awesome roadtrip from Texas, through New Mexico to California, and drove home through Utah, Nevada, etc. I was gone for an entire month on the road. Pulling back in to my parents house in my little home town made me feel very, very small. Awesome time.

311 Mack Bee May 26, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Nothing like a trip down the Mother Road – Old US-66!

312 Peter May 26, 2012 at 11:54 pm

When I was in high school, my family and I loaded up our Durango and camper and headed out to Montana. We camped the whole way there and the whole way back. It was a great experience. I got to help my dad with the map and navigation for the day. It wasn’t just about the places that we saw, it was about the time spent together.

313 Ian May 27, 2012 at 1:00 am

Haven’t done it yet. I’d like to do a baseball stadiums road trip, while catching the national parks along the way.

314 Jonathan May 27, 2012 at 1:19 am

My first cross-country road trip was earlier than I can remember. I’ve driven cross-country more times than I can count, and as someone who grew up doing it, I love it now. I have driven as far north as British Columbia, Canada, and as far south as Guatemala–and everywhere in between. Most of my friends think I’m crazy to drive so far instead of flying, but I love it. Even if driving wasn’t insanely cheaper (especially with a 50mpg diesel Jetta), it’s so much more enjoyable and less stressful.

My most recent road-trip breakdown akin to that in the post happened near San Luis Potosi, Mexico, when I hit a rock, springing a leak in my oil pan, on New Years Eve, 2011. Fortunately, after towing the car back to town (thank goodness we *did* have cell phones to call for help) a kind Mexican welder was willing to postpone his New Years festivities by an hour (for a small premium fee) to repair my oil pan.

315 Gene May 27, 2012 at 3:09 am

I’d like to drive across the country sometime. My friend recommended it to me because you learn a lot about the country. It sounds like a good way for me to gain some much-needed experience.

316 Duane Stephen Povey May 27, 2012 at 3:36 am

A cross-country road trip across the America’s is definitely on my bucket-list!

317 Ken May 27, 2012 at 6:33 am

I’ve taken a single road trip, about a year ago. I and the girl I was dating decided to head south from New Jersey, and to explore Florida. We had two different places we could stay when we got there, one place on the very southern edge and another in Jackson. We were really excited, and very young, and very dumb about just everything there is to be dumb about with managing cars and road trip preparation.
Right when we were near the South Carolina border, the car chucked, steamed, then stopped in the middle of I-95. Fortunately we were able to get it off to the side, but the moment it fully stopped we knew it would not be running again; we hadn’t changed the oil before going, and I don’t think she had ever once changed the oil prior also. So the car died and we phoned AAA and they offered to tow the car and us to a nearby motel. This was fortunate, but at the same time not so much; we’d hardly enough cash to actually pay for the gas concerning this trip, and the $60 a night at the motel meant we could afford only 3 nights. And we knew that our friends would absolutely not be coming to get us, nor would my parents, and her parents she’d hadn’t even told she’d be going as she’d known they would have disallowed it.
And the motel, the Motel 6, was of the most dangerous, unseemly places to be at, especially for us two, priveledged, middle-class kids from New Jersey subburbs. It was in the appearance of the place also, this dangerous; it looked vacant, like the types of men and women who went there, dangerous, seedy types, had somehow dictated the atmosphere and sheen of the place; it was uncomfortable to even walk inside, and when we finally did managed to, my fear and uncertainity were instantly confirmed;
“Oh shucks; you kids don’t want to stay here, do you? We JUST had a damn shooting a damn sight hours ago. You don’t really want to stay here, do you?”
But we did, because we had nowhere to go. So we paid and she gave us a key and damn well led us to our motel room because she knew that we were nothing more then naive outcasts who’d gone and put themselves in trouble they couldn’t for their life comprehend. And when we entered she closed the door behind us, and I locked it, and the girl I was with started to cry.
I could write more on it, from the sounds of a man beating his child in the room over or the drunken yelling that seemed to envelop the place from 9 at night until 5 in the morning, but it is unnessecary. It was unsafe and dangerous, and for two and a half days we stayed put in our stubby room listening to the things around us and trying to find some way to get out, to make it home. And eventually we did, having contacted and negotiated with the local bus station to come and pick us up from the motel and take us to the bus station. And that was nice, and I’d thought things were going to be okay and my girl did also, who was damn well dancing about that day and not chain smoking for the first time in days. But then the bus trip home— it was awful, worse then the motel and its contents.
But I’ll leave it there; too long a comment already. Either way, the road trip certainly changed me in many ways, as it will, but not so majestically and supreme as the above excerpt. Not all like that.

318 Paul May 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

I’ve traveled across the USA east to west and north to south more than a few times. My dad retired US Air Force and I retired US Navy. Remember one trip with six boys from Arkansas to Sacramento, stopping at Painted Desert when America had the hit “Horse With No Name” so we all had to sing that. We returned from England and picked up the car somewhere in New Jersey and drove to Chicago to visit my grandmother. Finishing boot camp in San Diego and heading out for Groton, CT to attend Basic Enlisted Submarine School, the guy I drove with had only had his driver’s license a week. But the most amazing was leaving Charleston, SC two weeks after Hurricane Hugo, there was no power so my orders were hand-written to report to Bremerton, WA reporting to yet another submarine, made the drive alone in 80 hours. Left Charleston at 9am, hit Chicago about 3am the next night, watched sunrise somewhere around Madison, WI. Finally stopped in Rapid City, SD for a hot shower and six hours sleep, then headed out again. Stopped at the Custer battle site for a few hours then overnight through Idaho and sunrise in Spokane, kept pushing til I was on a ferry out of Seattle and home just after lunch. I had moved my family out in August so the kids could start school on time and was happy to be home but an amazing drive from the storm-devastated area around Charleston to snow on the ground around Rochester, MN. It was just me, the family dog, and my first Glock and stopping to nap as needed, the cold wouldn’t let me sleep for more than a few hours. But those drives are amazing to think of people doing that in covered wagons without restaurants and route signs!

319 Vasili May 27, 2012 at 8:42 am

Never did but certainly will in future!

320 Peter May 27, 2012 at 11:38 am

Yes! Done this twice in a car, once on a sport bike alongside two buddies, and once alone in a U-haul with car in tow. The people you meet, images of breath taking landscape, and stories of urban and rural adventure last a lifetime and teach you to demolish your own stereotypes about other people in other parts of the country. From the tough looking characters who approached us in the KFC parking lot in inner Detroit (literally with gold medallions on fat chains and sparkling toothy grillz) who we thought were gonna kick our you-know-whats and take our bikes, but who saw our Cali plates and just wanted to hear about our trip and tell us we were insane, to my own U-haul breakdown in Montana and the salt-of-the-earth guys who fixed it without allowing me, clearly a blue state city boy student, to pay (“it’s U-haul’s fault, so don’t worry, we’ll collect it from U-haul”). These trips teach you how diverse, and more importantly, how great Americans are all across the country. Anyone who loves this country should do this at least once in their life and actually see the country for all its greatness.

321 Drapery Toronto May 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Great blog wow Americans are everywhere.

322 Derrick May 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I have always wanted to take a road trip out and share the trip with some of my favorite people

323 Tom Byrnes May 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I am 20 and currently enlisted in the USMC. When I get out in 2014, my friend and I are taking the Great American Roadtrip. 48 states! The Grand canyon is a must see.

324 Eric Davis May 27, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I must say that as a kid my parents were big fans of the road trip and I remember many summers riding along forever to who knows where doing who knows what , but it was fun.

325 Mark Ryan May 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I’ve been to a fair amount of countries, but I’ve always wanted to take a trip across the US. Whether alone or with my friends, I will be taking the big trip next year, post-college graduation.

326 Matthe May 27, 2012 at 3:48 pm

when I was 20 I drove a 1973 Lincoln Continental From Los Angeles California, to Nashville Tennessee in a day and a half. I got to Nashville passed out was woken up not many hours later by a friend of mine screaming “we’re going to Mexico get in the van!” I than drive from Nashville to Xalapa, Mexico. If you look at it on a map. I drove more in that week than most people will in a month. On about 15 hours of sleep.

Also, the first time I had a gun pulled on me.

So…There’s that.

327 dannyb278 May 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Threw a backpack and my triumph motorcycle in the back of my pickup and headed west into montana from minnesota. ended up spending 8 months ranging from northern montana to the texas/mexico border working on oil and wind farm surveys. one hell of a roadtrip.

328 Matthew May 27, 2012 at 7:17 pm

First of all, the mechanics name was Dave on my first Great American Road trip in which I drove solo from the Chesapeake to the Pacific and back in just over three weeks. Dave was responsible for replacing my car’s oil pan which got cracked while driving through Yellowstone Park, subsequently leaking all my oil onto our country’s first national park. I had to hitch two rides to the park ranger station to walkie talkie in a tow truck, who’s driver, a avid trout fisher from Idaho originally, gave me a lift into the nearby town of West Yellowstone, Montana. It took a day and a half for a new oil pan to be shipped to town and another day to fix my car, so I spent a day hiking in Yellowstone Park via a trail head on the edge of town. It was late April so there was still three feet of snow on the ground. After a mile I realized I was pushing a small herd of bison. After two hours I found myself siting on a long along a ridge looking down on the Madison River and at bison grazing in the fields on the far side. Of all the places to get stranded, I’m glad it was Yellowstone.

329 Alan May 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm

Definitely going to take a trip across Canada some day, from Nova Scotia to B.C. Probably after highschool. Can’t wait

330 Phill May 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I take a roadie every year by myself. I enjoy being by myself and it gives me a chance to indulge in my geeky interest of history and photography and listen to the music or radio that I want to listen to.

I’ve delayed this years trip for a few weeks waiting for the release of Neil Young’s “Americana”. Can’t wait.

331 Kris Thurlow May 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I have yet to take a cross-country road trip. It’s my dream to restore a classic Dodge Challenger and then make the journey. I agree that it is a right of passage, and something we should all experience. Every day I think about how much I look forward to the time when it’s my turn.

332 Matthew H May 27, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I haven’t taken a cross-country road trip yet. In fact, I’ve had very little road trips at all. I plan on changing that soon, and a trip across America sounds like the thing to do. Time to start saving up for the trip!

333 Kevin Amundson May 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Back in 2005 my family went on a road trip through the Dakota’s, Wyoming and Montana. It was a great time for our family to bond closer and learn about the history of the different regions of our country. It will be something that I always cherish.

334 Justice May 27, 2012 at 9:29 pm

My dad has taken our family on numerous road trip all across the west and the east coast. They are some of my favorite memories because that is what he did with his dad years ago.

335 Eric May 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Growing up on the east coast I’ve had the chance to experience many 1000-1500 mile trips up and down, from the northern tip of Maine to the southernmost point of the US in Key West, Florida. The most memorable though was thrust upon me as part of my job when I was 22. I was flown to Chicago, Illinois to pick up a truck of supplies that my co-worker and I had 72 hours to get to Oakland, California. It was my first experience anywhere in the western half of the country and although it wasn’t a pleasure trip I was able to visit several states I may or may not ever have the chance to return to. Almost 10 years have passed and I still have vivid memories of the vastness of Nebraska and Wyoming; as well as the sheer panic of driving over a hundred miles through the Nevada desert at 2 am desperately searching for a station that sold anything but diesel.
Among the items I still have yet to cross off my bucket list is the trip from my home in upstate NY to the Grand Canyon. After reading this article I think it may be time to start planning.

336 Clark May 27, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Throughout my childhood my father would budget for a summer vacation and family road trip. This was important because it taught the benefits of being frugal with money as well as taking time out to spend with the family. Sure, he could have spent the money on something he wanted, but he felt it was best for the family to spend time with us and showing us new things. During road trips, we could travel as long as we wanted, or stop and see some local sights. This was wonderful because if we saw a road side attraction or historical marker we would pull over and get a history lesson or experience the new culture. The single trip that stands out the most was driving out west and seeing the mountains in the distance, and not arrive for an hour or so. As a child, I was used to seeing something and being there in a minute or two, but when I first saw the Rockies, it really made me get a better grasp of how large things really are. All in all, my trips as a youth have developed me into a man who desires to save my pennies throughout the year and make sure to take time out to encourage my own kids by giving them these experiences and scenery not available from taking planes. I still would rather drive hundreds of miles and take an extra day, than to fly there and be at my location in an hour. There is so much more to see when you have the flexibility of getting off the trail and taking time to explore and appreciate the often overlooked gems that life has to offer.

337 Andrew May 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm

I just graduated college, and I start my cross-country road trip in 2 days. 4 weeks with 4 college buddies should be a lifelong memory, and I have never been so excited in my life. It is funny that I should read this right before leaving.

338 Erin May 28, 2012 at 12:46 am

As a kid of divorced parents, some of my favorite road trips were with my grandfather, to and from my Dad’s place, through several western states.

Grandpa taught driver’s ed before retiring, so I got to learn all sorts of rules like “did you know it’s illegal in Idaho to not pull over if more than 3 cars are following you?” as we rambled down the road. Those days never seemed long, and now that I drive those same roads, I can only marvel at how far he drove without stopping, and how tiring it must have been.

Before he died, he would regale me with those same driver’s ed stories as I drove him across town. Dementia has a way of making the old new again, and I just answered as if we were cruising the highway like the old days.

Road trips are sepia toned, even in 2012.

339 Christian Say May 28, 2012 at 1:51 am

I am graduating from high school in a couple of days, and my friends and I are trying to plan a road trip. Four weeks is a while though, and the logistics just seem so daunting. We’ll see.

340 Paul Hakel May 28, 2012 at 4:50 am

I took a “road trip” for a leadership conference, a few weeks back, and then visited family after the conference. It was a great experience to get out and see something fresh of the world and to meet some new people. The drive gave me time to pray and reflect as well as SPEED UP MY LIFE! I felt very strong in having driven 6+ hours without fail. Road trips are a great blessing in perspective!

341 Eddie Peraza May 28, 2012 at 5:45 am

I have had the opportunity to take a few short road trips in my relatively short life. I think a road trip that uses road side camping as it’s main stay would be great idea not only to save money but to enjoy the night sky of different towns. This was a well written account. If your book is anything like this, it will be a pleasure to read.

342 josh May 28, 2012 at 8:04 am

I still think my most memorable road trip was in a 300zx that i had built on my Airman first class paycheck which is mealsley to say the least. I got tdy orders to head to biloxi mississippi for training so i loaded up my z and drove from rapid city south dakota to tallahassee florida in 2 days sleeping in the car at a tires plus when i had a blow out and no spare then visited my uncle to decompress my brain from the strain of military life. I drove on to biloxi and ended up losing that car to a tropical storm there but i will never forget that ride

343 Tom May 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

My roadtrip was when I was 21 (I am now 48). I had just returned from an overseas assignment in the Air Force. I went from PA to FL then to TX and OK before driving to OH for my next assignment. I spent that time visiting friends and beginning a romance of which I still have some fond memories (ssshhh, don’t tell my wife). This was the 2nd roadtrip I had done. First was before I went overseas. That one was similar without the romance (although it laid the foundations for that romance).

344 Zachary May 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

I have been taking road trips with my family for as long as I remember. We’ve seen almost every state, and racked up thousands upon thousands of miles on our vehicles. The last road trip we took was from Florida to California, where we visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Napa Valley.

I very much want to take a road trip with my friends after I graduate though, it is one of my goals to accomplish before I get too old.

345 Steve Hayes May 28, 2012 at 10:49 am

have taken many a road trip with my father-in-law. We share a common interest in the Civil War and WWI & WWII. Each and every time we get near a scenic outlook or historical marker, time permitting we stop and take a look-see!

346 Rob May 28, 2012 at 11:27 am

Spent two weeks last year driving across California, it was incredible!
But I live in the UK. Driving across England is not fun haha. Everywhere is small, the roads are short and you’ve got where you’re going in an hour or two. Traversed the country in less than a day! Jealous of all you Americans…

347 Ryan May 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

I’ve been on several road trips. I’ll just tell you about one of them. When I was 14, we flew to Vegas and then drove to San Diego then North to Washington. We then cut east and went through Montana down to Wyoming and the Grand Canyon. Along the way we saw Yosemite park, the Great Sequoias, Mt. St. Helens, Yellowstone, The Great Salt Lake. I’ve been on many more trips too. These trips taught me that material things are temporary, but the memories you have on trips are what lasts forever. Meaning that yeah I would like to have a nice car or a big house but I wouldn’t trade my memories of traveling for a brand new Lamborghini.

348 Brandon May 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

I’ve done a state road trip through Texas, but never cross-country. Think it would be awesome to do one where I could mix in a little camping at the great spots I always read about like in Utah or the Ozarks!

349 Chris May 28, 2012 at 11:49 am

The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my whole family (me, sis, parents, and grandparents) took a long road trip from Oklahoma to the Yellowstone area. It took us a few weeks and entailed a number of interesting adventures and injuries for various members of our party. We were nearly run off the road by a careless semi driver. My grandmother broke her leg on a visit to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and we ended up stuck there for an extra 2 days. My sister flipped the little roller sled on an “alpine slide” somewhere in Colorado on the way back and ended up badly skinned up. Mom dropped a can on her foot and broke her toe. But I also slept for 6 nights on a bearskin rug in the front room of a house in Jackson Hole that had massive front windows directly facing the Grand Tetons. We went on a chuckwagon hay ride and saw working cowboys. We took a boat trip down a great river. I experienced the wonder and beauty of Yellowstone. I visited the Air Force Academy, one of the colleges on my short-list at the time. I had some…ahem…interesting romantic adventures, as well. And those were just on the stops; we drove through majestic mountains and vast swaths of desolation. I remember a stretch of road in south Wyoming that wound through an area that was the epitome of “God-forsaken land”. We stopped in Lamar, Colorado and smelled cow while trying to choke down gas-station sandwiches. We also dined in fine restaurants in little towns whose names I don’t even remember now. We really did see the purple mountains of majesty AND the fruited plains, all in one trip. It was the best trip I’ve ever taken.

350 GT1jimi May 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The nature of the Great American Road Trip has changed over time: over recent years especially. Before the mobile phone and the internet, road travel was an opportunity for adventure. Things could go wrong. One could not avoid meeting strangers. There were even hitchhikers. The best attitude was summed up in a saying my father used, “What’s the fun of going if you know you’re going to get there?”

A few years ago, I travelled with three friends on a motorcycle tour of seven western states. After one of us ran out of gas, we talked about the hazards of traveling the open road. We came to the disappointing consensus that, in today’s world of all-encompassing technology and communication, just about the worst thing that could happen to us would be an inconvenience.

American road travel can only be an adventure if we will it to be. Our culture has made a concerted effort to eliminate the unknown variables that underpin the memorable journey, and it has been an overwhelming success.

351 Eufrey May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

My best friend Adam and I finally broke free of the island “prison” of Hawai’i, and were driving East from San Francisco to Atlanta. The amount of land in front of us was astounding. We got lost in Kansas City, we saw amazing lightning in Arkansas, we went to Graceland. When it was all done, our friendship, though tested, was stronger, I had put myself in a bit of credit card debt, and I couldn’t listen to the Dead Kennedy’s without wanting to drive off the road. I was 22 years old.

352 Jonathan Lynch May 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Myself and a couple of close high school friends i kept during college are planning to drive across the country once we all graduate from college next year.

353 Raphael May 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

My parents would head out, two weeks at a time every summer, with my two sisters and I. The five of us would drive cross country and then some. From our home in the Midwest we drove to both coasts and down south. All said and done, I went through 47 of the states and over half the Canadian provinces. What’s weird is when you drive to the Atlantic time zone, which is one hour ahead of Eastern time. Those are some very good memories from my youth.

354 Paul May 28, 2012 at 3:21 pm

The summer after me and three of my friends graduated from high school we decided to take a road trip to Toronto from Omaha, NE to attend a music festival. But as we began to plan our trip, we added a few extra destinations along the way. We ended up going to Cedar Point, then driving through Detroit and through upstate New York. Then we spent a few days in Toronto and Montreal. Probably the most memorable two weeks of my life. Over 2000 miles of driving in ten days. My favorite stop: a tiny little bakery in downtown Toronto called Mystic Muffin. They made the best apple cake I’ve ever had!

355 알렉스 May 28, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Junior year of college, three friends and I drove from central Illinois to Los Angeles over a spring break. The journey was certainly just as eventful as the destination, as it gave us all a chance to reconnect during a hectic semester and mend some wounded friendships. Memories include driving into a snowstorm in Utah and through Arizona, the distant glow of Las Vegas at night from miles away, and celebrating my 21st birthday on the road. To this day I still have a special place in my heart for those 3 I shared my car, and so many miles with.

356 Stephen Keenan May 28, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I’ve never been to America (I live in the Channel Islands), but every Easter for the past four years I’ve gone on a road trip through Europe with my family (I’m only 17), on the way to our holiday destination. I’ve been to some lovely cities and seen some stunning mountains. The best thing about driving through France is the little B&B’s along the way. Small rooms in someone’s converted stable overnight, and then home-made jam with fresh croissants in the morning. I think the two things the road trips are best for are building patience, and realising just how darn huge some countries are (the island I live on (Jersey (the one your one is named after)) is only 9×5 miles). Of course, one also has to learn to tolerate one’s sister sitting next to you for ten hours at a time.

I’m planning to drive across America in my gap year.

357 michael May 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm

saw the grand canyon as a kid. scared me soulless. thought i’d fall off, but now that i’m older, i can’t wait to go back.

358 Nicholas May 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

I have driven across Canada, both east and west, and that is one big country. Just drove across Australia too, a wonderful experience. I totally underestimated how big the land mass is.

359 Erick R May 29, 2012 at 3:20 am

I drove with my aunt to California when I was 12. It was awesome.

360 Ken McNeil May 29, 2012 at 4:26 am

Would like to seek the title of the “Best Road Trip.” While in college…when everyone is ten feet tall and bulletproof…myself and two friends drove from Fulton, Missouri to Acapulco and back. The stuff you do when you are young borders on insanity!!!

361 Jaredd Wilson May 29, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’ve done many roadtrips by myself, and with others. They often include the best stories I’ve been able to tell later in life.

362 Alan May 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

My daughters are nine- and five-years old. Due to work and life in general, I feel like I’ve missed a lot of their lives. I look at them and wonder where the babies went. I’ve never taken that road trip, but it’s always been on my list. I think it would be the perfect trip for beginning anew with my family. No schedule, no must-dos, just road, America, and us.

363 Lewis H May 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

Never driven across the country. I plan to … dont know when .. but one of the places i most hope to see is northern Calif…. I want to see the Seqouias/Redwood trees before i die.

364 Cody May 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

What a great story. I definitely need to orchestrate some sort of road trip with my long-time best friend.

365 William Todd Brown May 29, 2012 at 9:56 am

Unless your married with kids….stop what you are doing,throw a backpack in the back seat of your car, take a good friend or better yet a good woman or man depending on your preference, hopefully the two overlap and go out and explore this big beautiful country of ours….and I mean explore the way John Wesley Powel did…stay out of the motels and sleep on the ground stay in our National Parks and Forest, walk down those trails and get away from the asphalt. Your life will never be the same.

366 Darrin May 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wow, there sure are ALOT of comments. I have traveled from where I live in Wisconsin to all 3 coasts, CA, TX and NC. But I always wanted to take a historic road trip (in a convertible preferably) down Route 66 from Chicago to LA. Still dreaming about it and one day it will happen.

367 Spencer May 29, 2012 at 10:29 am

I spent most of the summer of my 16th year traveling around doing some minor construction projects. It was the first time I had really seen much of the country.

368 Ryan May 29, 2012 at 11:01 am

I took a short road trip last year with my girlfriend. We drove from Pheonix to Colorado Springs over 4 days, and spent alot of time around the grand canyon and in Utah. It was Awesome! I strongly suggest that anyone from the east cost take some time to drive and hike through this part of the country – its not like anything back east.

369 Logan Clark May 29, 2012 at 11:11 am

Mmmmm….Roadtrip. Om nom nom nom

370 Dan May 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

Great Post! When i was a kid, my dad moved our family from the west to the east in a moving truck. We saw all the sites along the northern US; it is some my best memories.

371 David Wainwright May 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I live in the States, and I have never driven all the way across the country, though I’ve driven probably about halfway multiple times. For me, a road trip is a great opportunity for me and my closest guy friends to get away and spend some real time together. It always deepens our bromance and helps form us into better men through the deep conversations and the adventures both.

372 Pete May 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I was 19 and had an opportunity. Living in Laramie, WY with my high school girlfriend and going to college, I got accepted to a private college I’d applied to in Florida. Not only did I get to pursue my life-long dream of aviation, but I got the chance to get out of a relationship turned sour.

When the time came to leave I left her everything I owned (including a ’79 Chevy truck and ’72 Oldsmobile Cutlass (oh, how I miss that car)) but the prized possessions that would fit in my 1978 Z-28 Camaro. Blankets, stereo, books, a .22 rifle and 12ga shotgun, clothes, and some basic tools were shoved into the back seat and trunk–and the trip began….

The destination was Florida, but I was making the trip via Michigan, to visit friends, and Maryland, to visit my dad. Laramie, WY is at 7200 feet, therefor very moderate temps, so I’d taken the air conditioner belt off of the Z-28 to eek out just that much more power. I soon regretted that. This was the summer of ’88, and the country was experiencing a huge heat wave. The two “modern” extras this car had were A/C and cruise control, and I jumped on I-80 and set the cruise on about 75mph-ish.

The day heated up and so did I. As I got into the afternoon I found myself stopping at various fast food restaurants to order some sandwich and at least 4 waters at a time. Windows down, I drove with my left arm out the window and a map in my hand, curved along my forearm to funnel the 106° air onto my body.

The heat wasn’t just attacking the car an me, though–it was attacking the earth. More specifically, the road. Every 20 or so miles the road would buckle, rising in a sharp crest that was easily 4 – 6 inches high. The first time I hit one I wasn’t paying that much attention–until I was literally airborne and with enough of a jolt to turn off the cruise control. This got my attention, and my scan quickly extended towards the horizon, looking for that tell-tale line across the asphalt. Unfortunately, even slowing down for these rifts in the road produced a bone jarring thud…

So this was a Sunday, way back in ’88, and I was almost across Nebraska by now. It was around 5pm and the heat was still sweltering. A semi was ahead of me, and I had learned early on to try and pass them rather quickly (if you’ve ever driven in WY in the winter you know why.) I hit the gas a bit and started passing the truck. BANG! from the engine compartment–and a quick look in the mirror showed the semi and a huge puff of smoke behind me. “Fuck,” said I, as I pulled over to the side of the highway, the semi’s honking horn laughing at me as I came to a stop. The temperature was still well over 100° and I got out of the car, drenched in sweat and dreading opening the hood. All I could think of was that I’d blown the 350–and I was 15 miles from Lincoln, NE on a Sunday afternoon. Luckily, it was the fan belt, but there was no way in that heat my car would make it that 15 miles without overheating. I unpacked my trunk there on the side of the road to get my tools and to see what various parts I had stowed away (why in the hell didn’t I put that stuff on top??). I had two (two!) belts in there–one the A/C belt I’d taken off months ago, the other I still have no idea why I had.

Pulling out my wrenches I got down to the task at hand. The A/C belt was too small–but I expected that. The other belt I had was way too big… Curse words were thrown into the shimmering air. Visions of me sleeping in the car, miserable in the heat, invaded my mind. I had to assess. I went through my belongings looking for anything that might get me that extra 15 miles–and before the auto stores closed on a sleepy Sunday. My hiking boots stared at me–and an idea dawned. Quickly unlacing them, the laces were more than long enough to do the job. I tied them around the pulleys, trying to make the knot as flat as possible, and tightened up the bolts on the water pump to tension them.

To be honest, I don’t know whether the laces lasted a minute or for 20, but I made it into Lincoln and got to a parts store 5 minutes before it closed–changing the belt right there in the parking lot. I vowed to make the rest of the trip driving at night when the temps were a bit cooler, though.

Oh, there’s more—that was just the first 600 miles. I had more adventures in Michigan where I stayed for a week, and in Baltimore, MD, where I stayed for over a month before school started in FL to make some spending money. But that was the first day….

373 Joe May 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I’ve driven across the country multiple times, and the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, and the Rockies have got to be some of the highlights of this great country. I live in South Louisiana, but New England, the Midwest, and the West Coast all have their own beauty and things specific to their locale that’s worth experiencing.

As for the title of the greatest roadtrip of all time… when I was young and stupid, last year, my brother and I rode our motorcycles from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, (furthest north in the Americas) to Ushuaia, Argentina, the furthest south in the populated world.

374 BR May 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Over the years I have traveled across the United States many times. I have driven from Massachusetts to Texas and back, both legs taking a different route to experience the country and what it had to offer. I have driven across my state and found that there are things just as worthy to experience. I have stopped at a vineyard in Michigan and a greasy spoon in Alabama. Visited Nashville and had my picture taken on the Grassy Knoll. Had shaved ice at a place in Hawaii because Adam Sandler wore the t-shirt in my wife’s favorite movie. Watched the sun set on the west coast and rise on the east. Watching the sun set was one thing my wife and I went out of our way to experience on every trip, a simple sunset, it marked our journey.
Of all the places I have visited I most look forward to meeting the people, they vary from state to state but their kindness courtesy and curiosity towards the random stranger crossing America remains the same, wonderful. In the end I always appreciate coming back home but the experience of seeing America is something I recommend to every one. It shows you a world vast in the respect of its variety and at the same time welcoming in the warmth of the people in those places.
Having also left the United States many times I can say the same holds true of other countries. It does not matter if you are in the Caribbean, the mountains of Honduras, the deserts of the Middle East, the streets of Paris, a castle in Edinburgh or the churches of England. It all opens the mind to the possibilities and gives one a better understanding of the people and the world around you.

375 Bret May 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Every summer growing up my family would go on a road trip. When I think back I don’t remember the miles slowly passing by but the conversations and the experiences gained.

376 Nick May 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm

This was a great guest post concerning the way you described the path you took. I also signed up for the book giveaway as well.


377 Aaron May 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm

The summer after I married my wife, we decided to circumnavigate the U.S. in our car. Both of our fathers predicted that we’d give up and come home. 10,000 miles later–after navigating through CT, NY, NJ, D.C., VA, NC, TN, MO, KS, CO, NM, AR, NV, CA, OR, WA, B.C., MT, WY, ND, MN, WI, IL, ID, OH, and PA–we pulled into our driveway with a dusty car, sunburns, stories, and thousands of pictures and told our fathers WE DID IT!

378 Damon B May 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Great post! The last road trip I’ve ventured on was exactly a year ago. I was 26 and had almost everything I owned packed in the back of my truck driving the 1000+ miles to California looking for work and to kick start my post college life. Certainly a liberating and wonderful experience!

379 Ryan May 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I’ve been to both coasts, visited most of the states in between, but have never driven across our great country. I would like to visit the southern states, as I have only been in their airports for connecting flights.

380 Mac D May 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm

I have never made the trip, but my friends from high school (im a freshmen in college) want to make the trip when we all graduate from college. not only will it be a great time joking and talking for hours, but it will also be a great way to reconnect with old friends.

381 Matthew May 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Most of my driving trips have been from North to South. I have yet to undertake a long drive out West. When you compare the size of those states with the states in the eastern half of the US, it’s incredible.

382 William M May 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I want to drive across country and visit landmarks along the way, it would be awesome!

383 Dave Tindell May 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm

In the summer of 1976 my best friend, also named Dave, and I went on a road trip from our small hometown in Wisconsin to the Deep South. I was about to start my sophomore year of college; Dave had chosen to work in an auto body shop after high school and pursue his dream of playing guitar in a band. We loaded up his El Camino and hit the road. We had a few adventures along the way: sleeping in the cramped back end of the car underneath the topper, spending a few days at my cousin’s house in the hills of northern Alabama and sparking the local girls, touring Disney World in Orlando and the space center at Cape Canaveral, and driving his car onto the beach at Daytona, just as we’d planned. By the time we got to Florida, our money was running low, so we spent one last night with friends in Atlanta and then drove all the way home. Our lives since that summer 36 years ago have taken different paths, but we still stay in touch and every now and then remember something about that trip. It was our last fling before the responsibilities of career and fatherhood overtook our lives. Now when we talk the subject of retirement often comes up, but sometimes we allow ourselves a few mintues to think back and remember the trip, the girls, the beach, and the time the car’s cruise control got stuck at 75 on the freeway, and we had to turn off the engine and wrestle the wheel so that we didn’t fly off the exit ramp. It was a special time.

384 Michael May 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I grew up making 12+ hour trips from Indiana to northern MN to see my mom’s side of the family. Since we’ve been married my wife and I have made several trips. We’ve been to the Outer Banks, NC, Colorado Springs, CO and Williamsburg, VA. Hour after hour in the car with the love of your life is a great way to spend a day or two. I’m looking forward to taking my daughter on road trips as she gets bigger. We’ll see how she does in the car for 12+ hours next month. Any advice on taking a 7 month old road trip like that?

385 Dave Neumayer May 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Opps sorry! I commented on the wrong post. This one on road trips is a great idea in a world where we see only what is on the media. I recently took a 2 hr drive in Washington from my home town and was reminded of how incredibly large numbers of people and land are involved in farming. Thank God for the farmers!

386 Will May 29, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I drove from California to Missouri in less than 20 hours, with my friend for his wedding. The best parts were driving through the night in the desert and seeing the west come alive as the new day started. Pretty unforgettable.

387 Tyler May 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I drove until I fell asleep, then drove for another 2 miles.

388 Karen May 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I turn 24 years old today and I only just returned from my first real road trip two days ago. I left out from my hometown and started the trek to Las Vegas, Nevada… It took 3 days to get there driving leisurely through the states of TN, KY, IL, MO, KS, CO, UT, NV and a little over 27 hours back – driving straight through AZ, NM, TX, OK, AR, and finally back to TN. This article perfectly sums up the experience in that you learn invaluable insights about your self, your traveling companions, and the world you are surrounded in. The most memorable sights on the trip included the St. Louis arch, the gorgeous mountains of Colorado, the wide open deserts of Utah, the grand canyon… Which words can’t really do justice… And the man made marvel of the Hoover dam – which I am proud to say my 80 year old father once worked on, a man who defines manliness for me. The sights of vegas definitely take your breath away in their own right. I look forward to road tripping again. Perhaps with my SO in the future.

389 Charles May 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I’ve never been on a cross-country road trip. The longest I’ve done is a road trip from Mississippi, through St. Louis, Indianapolis, up to Green Bay. But my wife and I have often talked about going on a trip from one city to another seeing MLB games. If it weren’t for the fact that college football is generally only on the weekends, I would love to do that as well. It might be possible, though, with games on Thursday nights and sometimes Friday nights these days.

390 Larry May 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm

The best way to travel across the cvountry is by train.

391 Chris May 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I was 18 years old, graduated from high school and in search of adventure. I’d grown up in small town Idaho and had never seen the world. Yellowstone was about as exotic as I was able to get. Don’t get me wrong, Yellowstone holds plenty for a young man to do and see, and I realize how lucky I was to have it so nearby. However, the majority of my life to that point was potatoes, cows, and grain. On a whim, I put gas in my $500 car, called a buddy and drove to Mexico. We drove south, camping next to the car and eating bread and cheese from the grocery store. We saw the wonders of Southern Utah, the majesty of Glen Canyon Dam, the immensity of the Grand Canyon, and crossed the dry deserts of Northern Arizona. We finally made it Phoenix, where I drove along a freeway that seemed immense. All my life had been spent on two-lane roads and now I was negotiating a 10 lane freeway ( I later learned it was only 8). We continued on a journey through an old airplane graveyard and on to Tucson.
We eventually came to border with Mexico in Nogales and crossed over (mostly on accident since we wanted to walk across and check things out). As soon as we realized that all of the signs were unreadable, like the intrepid explorers we were, we crossed back to the U.S. and drove west to San Diego. We saw Joshua Trees and crossed more desert and finally made it to the ocean. We were so excited, when we stopped I didn’t even put the car in park. I ran down the beach and jumped into the ocean. Luckily the garbage bins stopped the car (that was illegally parked) and we camped on the beach.
Our foray didn’t end there. We stayed for a couple of days and filled our pores with salt water and then drove up Highway 1, saw the Hollywood sign, and continued all the way up to San Francisco. We got lost, ate Chinese, watched the street artists and rode on a trolley. By then, we decided to return home and headed east up and over the Sierras. We crossed another desert, walked on the salt flats and returned once again to sagebrush and potatoes. To date, I have traveled all over Central America and across the U.S. multiple times, but no adventure will ever compare to that first trip. We had no money, no experience, and no real plan. We just cruised and followed each road to the end, stopping to see what was along the way.

392 Chris Gruenewald May 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Yellowstone national park was our aim, old faithful was our goal. Fond memories of driving from California to yellow stone in the back of a buick that had non operational windows arise when ever i hear the word road trip.

393 Jacøb May 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

When I was about 25, I had the opportunity to fly out to Missouri to meet up with my best friend, and accompany him on a road trip back to Southern California. We did it in 24.5 hours and, at the end of it, wished we had taken at least twice as long. I guess that’s kind of like life… You rush through it, but all you’re rushing toward is the end of a journey… So you might as well slow down and make your trip into an adventure.

394 Joey May 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm

I drove with my dad to Colorado when I was in high school; we stopped off at the Grand Canyon. It was an awesome sight.

395 Casey Jones May 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Wow! What a great post!

There really is nothing like the open road. I’ve been fortunate enough to take a few road trips in my life. The two I remember the most are one with my girlfriend from California to New York, and the other with my dad in the Midwest.

It took my girlfriend and I almost a week to drive across the country (we could have easily taken longer if it weren’t for our time crunch). We spent the most time on the coast of California, the Grand Canyon, and Memphis for some BBQ.

I agree with all three of your reasons to take this journey. The feeling of smallness is the reason that resonates with me the most. No matter how many times I’ve been to the Grand Canyon I still come away speechless. However, what really stuck with me was seeing my girlfriend’s awe inspired face as we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway, watching the tears stroll down her face as we watched the sunrise from the South Rim, and her obsession with looking at the road map or her phone to give me directions (even though I knew where I was going). This experience wasn’t complete without my girlfriend.

396 Marc W May 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Easy Rider comes to mind. I have traveled longitudinally across the east coast from MA to FL, but I dream of one day traveling west. I would like to see a number of National Parks including Badlands, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Yosemite. I would be in New Orleans in time for the Mardi Gras.

397 David May 29, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Last year, at 24 I took a trip to see Mt. Rushmore and found so much more than mountains with heads carved into them. The terrain shift from Tennessee, to the bluffs of Missouri to Kansas and corn fields of Iowa, then the Black Hills and Badlands of SD and some of the canyons of Wyoming were amazing. Rushmore was on my bucket list but I really enjoyed the trip getting there just as much.

398 Tammy May 29, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I have always wanted to take a cross country trip. I did travel through several east coast states and it was a blast. My husband took a cross country trip when he was in his late teens and still talks about it. Now I want to go!

399 Jon Absher May 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Last fall I took a week’s vacation and drove from my home in Kentucky to Colorado, down through the mountains to Albuquerque and back. I visited friends in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. I am 27 years old and even though I have traveled the world there is so much of this great county I haven’t seen. It made me recognize that while traveling to other countries is a great thing to do, one shouldn’t neglect to learn their own. (Especially one as big and diverse as ours.)

I went alone and the solitude was an amazing time to think, reflect, hope, dream, pray, and ponder. It was getting on in the fall but I took an air mattress and a sleeping bag and slept several of the nights in the back of my Nissan Pathfinder at campgrounds.

I ate great food, saw breathtaking sights and returned home feeling very relaxed for someone who had covered 3600 miles in a week. Now I just look forward to the next chance to go further and longer into the landscape.

400 Marty Delta May 29, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I suppose I have the Army to thank in many ways for my first real road trip as a young man. I graduated Basic Training at Fort Lost Leonard Wood, Missouri in July 1993 and set out on the open road for my next duty station at Monterey, California. My journey took me along Interstate 40, the old Route 66, and through my former home state of Oklahoma. My parents had long since divorced, and I had lived in Mississippi with my father and called it home for the better part of my young adulthood. My mother and I had not spoken for years by 1993, and we had gone for as long as almost six years without contact.
I found myself driving along I-40 in Oklahoma and thinking about my mother and grandmother who lived in Ardmore and Hollis, Oklahoma, respectively. When I hit somewhere near Erick, Oklahoma, I saw a sign for Hollis. I was surprised to see it was only about 40 miles away. I couldn’t pass up the chance to see if my grandmother still lived on the dry, dusty farm, miles from town, in the same place where I’d remembered it as a boy. It had been almost six years since my grandmother had seen me, but she recognized me immediately. She was so excited to call my mother and tell her I had stopped by. I spoke with my mother, and we all agreed to stay in touch better.
I left the same day before it got too dark and saw the sun setting in the west where I was headed and felt somehow at peace and excited about what lay over that horizon. I stayed in Amarillo, Texas that first night on the road. The next morning I drove out of Amarillo and saw the oddest thing, the Cadillac Ranch. It was a row of older Cadillacs, partially buried in the dry soil next to the highway, and I wondered who built it/made it and why. For no particular reason I supposed.
The next day was a long one as I drove on through Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico and into Arizona. If I hadn’t been a little pushed for time, I would’ve made side trips to the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon. Instead, I wound up in Kingman, Arizona on the western edge of Arizona around 1 AM the next morning. I had to stop for gas and was perusing my road atlas when I found that Las Vegas was only about 100 miles away, and what did sleep mean to a 23-year-old pumped full of caffeine anyway? And as an added bonus, I rolled right over the Hoover Dam en route to Sin City. It must’ve been close to 3 AM when I found myself among the glaring and garish lights on the strip.
And as many things do in life, one thing leads to another. Las Vegas led me to Death Valley, the lowest, driest, and hottest point in North America. How could I pass that up? And how could I know about the mountain peaks (real mountains compared to the hills in Mississippi and Oklahoma) that looked a bit like Neapolitan ice cream – the strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla flavors all different strata of rock piled up year after year? Where no one could see me, I hopped out of my car, lay my face down on the scorching road, and pretended I was dead for a self-portrait with my disposable camera. I think I might still have that picture somewhere. My car overheated coming out of Death Valley, and I remember a long, slow climb at about 30 miles per hour without air conditioning.
One day blended into the next, and before I was to see the Pacific Ocean and the beauty of Monterey, I got a little lost, ran out of gas, and took a ride in the back of a passerby’s truck to the nearest gas station. I first remember seeing the Pacific Ocean as the area where the night lights along the mid-California coastline ended and darkness began. Late one night, exhausted but happy, I finally pulled into a cheap, little motel in Monterey made just for travelers like me, and slept well for the first time in days.

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