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This American Road

Experience America this summer with Andrew Burmon

From the Road

Introducing Traveling the American Road

September 16th, 2011

The End of Traveling the American Road

It takes a long time to drive 9698.8 miles, no matter how fast you're going. This summer, it took me more than 246 hours behind the wheel to log the distance, for a pace of just under 40 miles per hour. At times, I crawled along much more slowly, inching my way...

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September 14th, 2011

A Grand Tour of the American West

I could see the end of my road trip, on the other side of the deserts of the American Southwest, the sun-parched stretch of near nothingness that conceals some of the country's greatest natural wonders. So after leaving Spaceport America in New Mexico, I prepared for...

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September 9th, 2011

Dirt-Road Driving To Explore Spaceport America

In the wilderness of New Mexico, set in the dry, scrubby desert under a crystalline pale blue sky, is a construction site with a bombastic and cartoonish name, incomplete but already a monument to the hubris of interstellar exploration or maybe to tax-payer financed...

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August 31st, 2011

Getting Weird Where Time Stands Still: Marfa, Texas

"I've been here about a year and a half," says my tour guide, a young yoga instructor who also works at this art museum on the grounds of a former army base in Marfa, Texas. "It feels longer." Marfa is like that. Pulled from obscurity by the Chinati Foundation, an...

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August 29th, 2011

A Short Break From The Road In Oklahoma City

Seeing the recovery underway in Joplin, Missouri was an end point to a chapter of my trip. I'd done the Great Lakes, the East Coast, the South and, now, the Midwest. As I drove out of Missouri, the great expanse of the West loomed, a monstrous stretch of America to...

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August 25th, 2011

Exploring Joplin, Missouri, Recovering From Disaster

The most terrifying thing about touring the disaster zone caused by the May 22 EF-5 tornado here is the randomness of the devastation, the sight of a vacant lot where a house once stood, literally across the street from a home still whole. The destruction that the...

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August 23rd, 2011

After The Flood: Nashville's Rebuilt Gaylord Opryland Hotel

A few days after I explored vibrant post-flood New Orleans, reborn and bustling in the wake of the storm nobody's forgotten, I found myself in the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the largest non-casino hotel in the country. It's home to the famed...

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August 16th, 2011

In St. Louis, Finding Family Connections on The Hill

Vitale's bakery in St. Louis makes 25,000 pizza "shells" a week, turning out the flash-baked crusts on a production line in a sturdy brick building on Marconi Avenue. Many go to local restaurants. But as I toured Vitale's recently, a guy snuck in the side door, his...

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August 15th, 2011

Driving the Natchez Trace Parkway: A Road Trip within a Road Trip

The National Park Service brags that the Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through nature and American history, all of which sounded interesting enough for me to attempt the drive over a two-day span. The history was there, with the grave of Meriwether Lewis, a...

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August 12th, 2011

Three Awesome Small Towns, Best Seen by Road Trip

In the past few weeks, I've spent plenty of time in small towns. They're the kinds of places you only visit on a road trip, when passing through, going to bigger cities and bigger sites that aren't sequestered below the Mason-Dixon, far from a major airport or hidden, for...

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August 9th, 2011

A 16-Hour Overnight in Natchez, Mississippi

The Mississippi River town of Natchez has been a waypoint for centuries. Like so many voyagers before me, I didn't have much time to spend there. There were 16 hours to spare, enough for a whirlwind tour of a slow-moving town on a rainy Saturday night in late July. I...

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August 8th, 2011

The Flood's Been Over: Exploring the New New Orleans

Driving to the best breakfast spot in New Orleans, a somewhat dingy beignet shop in suburban Metairie called Morning Call, where cops and bounty hunters converse at the corner table, I turned on the local radio. The set picked up AM 690, and a program called Inside...

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August 5th, 2011

Searching for an Airboat Captain, Finding Adventure

Captain Geoff gives airboat tours of Mobile Bay, leaving from the Original Oyster House on the causeway that goes east out of town, past the retired USS Alabama. On the tours, airboaters often see alligators, birds, leaping fish and the natural beauty of the marshy...

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August 3rd, 2011

A Whirlwind Tour of Walt Disney World

I am not, as far as I can tell, in Walt Disney World's target demographic. I'm not four. I'm not a family man. I'm not Brazilian. I'm not even a fan of animated movies. But to drive through Central Florida after seeing a shuttle launch and pass up the parks? To miss...

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August 2nd, 2011

Exploring the Double-Edged History of Montgomery, Alabama

In Montgomery, during the Freedom Rides, I heard Martin Luther King say that while Brown v. Board of Education had been the legal turning point in the movement, the Montgomery bus boycott and the sit-ins were the psychological turning point. So writes Calvin Trillin...

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July 31st, 2011

Atlanta, an Olympic City 15 Years Later

Fifteen years have passed since Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch, Kerri Strug landed her heroic single-footed vault and Eric Robert Rudolph detonated a pipe bomb in downtown Atlanta, during the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympic Games. Well-considered...

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July 29th, 2011

On the Fast Track with Richard Petty at Walt Disney World

I'm very interested in loud cars that go really fast, even if I still don't understand NASCAR. Earlier this summer, I drove my road trip ride around the speedway in Watkins Glen. As much fun as it was--lots!--I was itching to get a vehicle up to triple-digit speeds....

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July 28th, 2011

Out to the Ballgame: A Cultural Tour of Baseball for the Non-Fan

"How long have you guys been sitting down here," the drunken heckler asked me and my buddy Stephen, around the seventh inning of a Mobile BayBears game at Hank Aaron Stadium. "All game," I replied. "So have I said any curse words?" he asked, knowing that he hadn't,...

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July 27th, 2011

The Final Shuttle Launch and the Future of the Space Coast

About 12 hours before STS-135 was set to blast off for low Earth orbit, my friend Rob and I were driving toward Titusville, Florida with a car full of camping supplies and our fingers crossed. The weather was foul, and the chances of a launch were just 30 percent. But...

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July 25th, 2011

Road Trip Gear: Seven Must-Have Essentials

When you've got a road trip vehicle to fill with stuff, packing becomes a headache. A corollary the old saw that work expands to fill the available time, the stuff you bring seems to expand to fill the available cargo space. Every time I check into a motel, I seem to...

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