Let’s Go

…“Let’s go” is on the minds of many people in these last days of summer, especially the getting-out-of-here, going-away, going-home mood of Labor Day weekend. And it is much simpler by car…The long improvisational trip by car is quintessentially American, just as the road book is a peculiarly American form. […]

Yet it is perhaps truer today to say that the road trip has kept alive the romance of travel. Consider the misery of air travel, in what constitutes an average journey by plane. Much has been written about the stress, intimidation, limited space, germ-laden air and the intrusion of other people—the oaf in the seat in front of you who lowers his chair back into your lap, the child behind kicking your spine, the agony of the middle seat. Then there is the sludge that passes for in-flight meals, or the option to pay $7 for a “meal box” of chips, pretzels, cookies, candy, three crackers and a rectangle of industrial cheese that resembles a yellow piece of Lego but isn’t as tasty, and it’s five hours to LAX. After Sept. 11, 2001, casually showing up at the airport—often at the last minute, in my case—and easy boarding became distant memories, and since then air travel has degenerated further, so that the simplest flight is a secular version of hell. […]

This is why—for reasons of dignity and personal freedom—more and more Americans are rethinking the air journey and seeking the pleasures of the open road. […]

Not much on Earth can beat the American road trip in travel for a sense of freedom—no pat-down, no passport, no airport muddle, just revving an engine and leaving at will. Though the driverless cars that await us might have their uses in dense city traffic or on tedious L.A. freeways, they will certainly diminish the exuberance of a driver gripping the wheel, flooring it and rejoicing, “Eat my dust.”[…]

The American road trip rekindled my interest in travel and, most of all, reminded me how lucky we are in our country’s spaciousness and modernity. […]

So over the course of 2012-14, in four seasons, I drove tens of thousands of miles, meandering through the back roads of the deep South, listening to the blues on the radio, visiting churches and gun shows and family farms, and writing down people’s stories—of hardship and striving, raising families, struggling in adversity and remembering the past. […]

Nowhere else in the world (though Canada is a contender) is it possible to drive 3,000 miles—the distance from Boston to Los Angeles—and be certain that you will encounter no roadblocks or obstructions; that you will always find a place to stay and somewhere to eat. […]

Though I’ve been driving in the U.S. since I got my license 60 years ago, there is an immense amount of landscape I have yet to see. Driving through the deep South was a wish fulfilled, and so was my trip along the entire 1,900 miles of the Mexican border.

But I still have plans. My Road Trip Wish List includes: driving from Cape Cod to Seattle with many detours. Heading north from Cape Cod and keeping on, past the villages of my ancestors, until I run out of road around Lac Albanel in northern Quebec. Or heading south, as I mean to do soon, crossing La Frontera and taking an extended road trip in Mexico. […]

What made the experience a continuing pleasure was that, in my car, I never knew the finality of a flight, or the ordeal of being wrangled and ordered about at an airport, the stomach-turning gulp of liftoff or the jolt of a train, but only the hum of tires, of telephone poles or trees whipping past, the easy escape, the gradual release of the long road unrolling like a river through America. It is in many respects a Zen experience, scattered with road candy, unavailable to motorists in any other country on Earth.

~ Paul Theroux, excerpts from The Romance of the American Road Trip (WSJ, September 1, 2017). No other travel experience, especially today, can beat the sense of freedom it brings


Photo: Guy Le Querrec (via Mennyfox55)

Comments

  1. Yes! I’ll take a road trip over any other kind of travel any day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As long as someone else is doing the driving….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Alas my bum gets numb 😎

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Round trip Road trip from Portland Oregon to Moab Utah this past May with Leeds, Yorkshire UK 🇬🇧 girlfriend, Christine….and ZZ my Yellow Lab rescue dog! Ask me if it was fun?
    YES! YES! And YES!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Too bad there’s not the word LOVE to click on for this gypsy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. there are few things that make you feel more free

    Liked by 1 person

  7. And the sound of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” on the car radio. Bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Remembering my first trip to the States. The driver was in love with the hire car’s V6 engine but I was more fascinated by the cruise control and aircon . Not much use for either in the British Isles. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ” I drove tens of thousands of miles, meandering through the back roads of the deep South, listening to the blues on the radio, visiting churches and gun shows and family farms, and writing down people’s stories—of hardship and striving, raising families, struggling in adversity and remembering the past. […]” I would have like to have been along for that long ride…listening to the blues, chronicling the journeys of peoples everyday life…and I think of those in the past, the seeker’s who went to the South to preserve by writing down, by recording, by listening the stories of old timers, the indigenous music, the voice of everyday people in the south which includes,the Southern section of the Appalachian Mountains, the beauty of the people’s faces, the beauty of the Delta…the sounds of life…I think in contrast to the great photographers who chris- crossed this land documenting…..Dorothea Lange, Edward Curtis, Dianne Arbus and authors like John Steinbeck, Hemingway and countless others who have given us a glimpse and understanding of the plight of the everyday man…//// I so love the blues…some of my husbands co-workers went to a conference in the Southern US, they all took a few days of vacation on top of the work requirements and went on a tour of the real back roads of the South, eating seafood and going to small bldg & shacks that housed music and food, they heard such wonderful live Blues and sent a photo of one gentleman performing…The Rolling Stones loved the blues and they traveled to the Delta area to seek out musicians, asking around and then knocking on their doors.and asking them to play…///and Paul Theroux,is added to the list of authors who capture America’s Spirit and Paul Theroux will be added to my list of authors to read…Oh, Charles Kuralt needs to be included in my list of greats… thanks for a great share, Dave…Kindly, Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The siren call of the open road. Load up some good music and a slew of books on tape, grab a Starbucks or Dunkin to get your motor running and away you go. Nothing better!

    Liked by 1 person

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