How to expostulate a ultimate American highway trip

August 12, 2016 - Picnic Time

(CNN) – Ah, a good American highway trip. It’s a sermon of passage, a multiple of nostalgia, find and mischance ideally set opposite a unconditional landscape and torpedo tunes.

The beauty of a highway outing lies in a approved simplicity: tiny some-more is indispensable over a map and a functioning automobile for a Kerouac-worthy journey.

We’ve boiled a formulation down to a following essential considerations:


How many time? Desert or forest? Big cities, nation routes or a bit of both?

Guides everywhere for trips along a classical U.S. routes — California’s Highway, a aged Route 66, a New England tumble leaflet tour.

If we wish a unaccompanied itinerary, there are copiousness of resources to assistance pattern a debate that leaves room for astonishing tour while holding in sights we know we don’t wish to miss.

That’s what Barbara McKirdy detected in 2014 when she and husband, Gregg, gathering from Connecticut to Florida in a borrowed RV.

With no bound schedule, a span found themselves drawn to a seashore in a evenings, where they’d lift into a beach parking lot and watch a nightfall together.

“It was wonderful,” McKirdy says. “We had no channel starting out, we had usually dual spots planned. We were kind of winging it.”

If we cite a data-driven decision, talent Randy Olson — a man who mastered a art of acid for Waldo — has designed a ideal U.S. highway trip.

His 13,699-mile track is a shortest approach to take in a inhabitant park, monument, ancestral site or healthy landmark in any of a reduce 48 states.


In 2013, a bespectacled Sunday propagandize clergyman from Atlanta, Georgia, gathering from New York to Redondo Beach, California, in a universe record-setting 28 hours and 50 minutes.

We can’t suggest this — Ed Bolian and his co-driver averaged 98 mph during a debate and could simply have left to jail in any series of states.

It’s also a detriment from a transport perspective.

Any channel should leave room to representation America’s abounding and eccentric menu of roadside attractions.

We’ve damaged them down into a few useful categories.


Some of a United States’ many iconic sights are highway outing staples.

Mount Rushmore. The Grand Canyon. Sequoia National Park.

And if they’re not classics yet, they should be.

The city of Winslow, Arizona, has indeed parked a flatbed Ford on a dilemma of a aged U.S. Route 66, in loyalty to a Eagles song.

Could we overtly be within 50 miles of that and not go take a picture? How could we live with yourself?


America’s position as a universe personality has taken a battering in new years.

China’s economy is creeping adult on a United States as a world’s largest. The U.S. doesn’t even have a planet’s top plumpness rate anymore.

Yet a highways are lined with examples of uncontested American dominance.

The world’s tallest thermometer (Baker, California), world’s largest round of weave (subject of heated adversary between Cawker City, Kansas, and Darwin, Minnesota) and world’s largest bottle of ketchup (Collinsville, Illinois) all infer that where it counts, America stays No 1.

Inexplicably oversized animals

You need to widen your legs and use a toilet eventually. Why not do so in a shade of an huge newness animal?

Take your collect of dinosaurs (Cabazon, California), blue whales (Katoosa, Oklahoma), gorillas (Leicester, Vermont), humans (Unger, West Virginia), elephants (Margate, New Jersey), buffalo (Jamestown, North Dakota) and some-more dinosaurs (Rapid City, South Dakota).

Weird stuff

Some sights of roadside America challenge classification, a handiwork of eccentrics with a unaccompanied vision, land to gangling and a knack for self-promotion.

There’s The Thing, an captivate of wondrous weirdness preceded by a miles-long billboard debate that all though army cars off Arizona’s Interstate 10.

See also The Mystery Spot of Santa Cruz, California; Cadillac Ranch, in Amarillo, Texas; and Carhenge of Alliance, Nebraska.

These are places that leave we with some-more questions than answers.

What accurately are we looking at? Why is this here?

Doesn’t matter.

The best attractions infer what another American classical put so well: If we build it, they will come.


You already know we can’t splash and drive. Driving while exhausted can be only as bad. Don’t hurt a outing by apropos a grave statistic.

This nifty site,, has a map of rest stops along U.S. highways, observant amenities like cruise tables, Wi-Fi and pet areas.

If we are going to sleep, select a well-lit mark in a busiest rest stop available.

Rest stops are improved for a discerning snooze than an overnight snooze — reserve can be an issue, and some states extent a volume of time we might park during one.

Truck stops are even some-more fair to overnight sleeping, with a combined advantage of showers and prohibited food for sale.

Check a Trucker’s Friend,, for a national office of spots. And in a pinch, RVs and other vehicles are acquire to stay overnight in certain Walmart parking lots.


The vending of calorie-laden dishes is one of a things that a U.S. does best.

Roadside restaurants will publicize themselves miles before a offramp; even a grimmest gas hire will offer a preference of honeyed and tainted fare.

But there are indeed stretches of highway in a U.S. but a drive-thru fast-food opening each 100 meters.

What if you’re stranded in one of these no-man’s-lands during lunchtime?

Plan ahead.

There are dual schools of suspicion on highway outing snacks.

The initial is that your physique is a church and healthy offerings of nuts, dusty fruits and a occasional gas hire banana contingency be paid as reverence for optimal highway performance.

The second is that chocolate, carbonation and partially hydrogenated fats are as critical as gasoline.

Only we know what’s right for you.


There once was a time, kids, when highway outing song was singular to whatever CD was in arm’s strech or a fitful, few vigilance of a FM radio. (Assuming, of course, we couldn’t fit your phonograph in a car.)

But oh, a options today!

Smartphones or song players can block directly into a car’s sound complement with a USB wire or auxiliary line or a cassette adapter, if a automobile is comparison than a One Direction fan.

Or blast that business approach to a speakers around Bluetooth, possibly built-in or by a kit.

Most complicated rentals come versed with satellite radio that will collect adult signals from space to fill your automobile with general audio wallpaper.

And yet.

From a traveler’s perspective, there’s a lot to be gained from abandoning yourself to a mercies of internal radio stations.

It’s a possibility to float along, even briefly, with internal tone that’s differently flitting too fast outward a window — a DJ’s accent, charmingly quirky tiny business ads, song from artists not nonetheless famous over their partial of a country.

It’s a tiny instance of a broader transport truth: digital conveniences can dispossess us of a analogue pleasure of immersing ourselves in somewhere new.

“It’s probably unfit to get mislaid with GPS on each smartphone, we won’t have to run into a Wal-Mart for CDs if we run out of song since we can tide only about any calm to your phone, and we can find internal hotel or grill recommendations on a web but many effort,” says Alvaro Arce, who gathering cross-country from southern California to Washington, D.C. in 2002.

“The best recommendation might be to transport somewhere but Internet access.”

Originally published May 2015, updated Aug 2016.

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