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Traveling the american road posts

The End of Traveling the American Road

The End of Traveling the American Road Sep 16th, 2011 at 12:00PM: 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 through Chicago traffic jams or creeping back to Orlando in stop-and-go bottlenecks after the launch of STS-135. On the empty...

A Grand Tour of the American West

A Grand Tour of the American West Sep 14th, 2011 at 10:00AM: 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 a ironman push to the West Coast, my ultimate destination Los Angeles. Along the way, I'd stop at the Four Corners and the...

Dirt-Road Driving To Explore Spaceport America

Dirt-Road Driving To Explore Spaceport America Sep 9th, 2011 at 9:00AM: 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 public-private partnerships of indeterminate future success. Spaceport America, a beautiful collection of Googie-inspired...

Getting Weird Where Time Stands Still: Marfa, Texas

Getting Weird Where Time Stands Still: Marfa, Texas Aug 31st, 2011 at 1:00PM: "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 art museum started by contemporary sculptor Donald Judd, it's now a tiny raft of a town in the sea of the high desert of West...

A Short Break From The Road In Oklahoma City

A Short Break From The Road In Oklahoma City Aug 29th, 2011 at 9:00AM: 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 cover in the less than two weeks that remained in my trip. I wasn't looking forward to it. After eight weeks in the car, on...

Exploring Joplin, Missouri, Recovering From Disaster

Exploring Joplin, Missouri, Recovering From Disaster Aug 25th, 2011 at 11:00AM: 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 storm wrought is already disappearing from view as the Corps of Engineers and contractors raze what's left of damaged...

After The Flood: Nashville's Rebuilt Gaylord Opryland Hotel

After The Flood: Nashville's Rebuilt Gaylord Opryland Hotel Aug 23rd, 2011 at 10:00AM: 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 Grand Ole Opry, the shrine of country music, and sits along the Cumberland River, which poured over its banks last year,...

In St. Louis, Finding Family Connections on The Hill

In St. Louis, Finding Family Connections on The Hill Aug 16th, 2011 at 11:30AM: 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 granddaughter in tow, picked up a sack of shells and ducked out. No big deal: He's a friend of the family. It all makes sense in...

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

The Flood's Been Over: Exploring the New New Orleans Aug 8th, 2011 at 11:00AM: 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 New Orleans. The host, Eric Asher, started talking about Tales of the Cocktail, an annual drinking convention for bartenders...

Searching for an Airboat Captain, Finding Adventure

Searching for an Airboat Captain, Finding Adventure Aug 5th, 2011 at 1:00PM: 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 flats. That is, if you can track down the mysterious captain....

A Whirlwind Tour of Walt Disney World

A Whirlwind Tour of Walt Disney World Aug 3rd, 2011 at 10:00AM: 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 out on a quintessentially American summertime diversion? To skip a chance to meet the one and only Mickey Mouse? I'm not...

Exploring the Double-Edged History of Montgomery, Alabama

Exploring the Double-Edged History of Montgomery, Alabama Aug 2nd, 2011 at 1:00PM: 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 in a recent New Yorker, reflecting on the civil rights struggle in the deep south, which he covered for Time magazine "from...

Atlanta, an Olympic City 15 Years Later

Atlanta, an Olympic City 15 Years Later Jul 31st, 2011 at 9:30AM: 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 development for the event has since transformed the city, which continues to draw new residents, start-up businesses and flights to...

On the Fast Track with Richard Petty at Walt Disney World

On the Fast Track with Richard Petty at Walt Disney World Jul 29th, 2011 at 2:00PM: 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. Near the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, I had that chance at the Richard Petty Driving Experience....

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

Out to the Ballgame: A Cultural Tour of Baseball for the Non-Fan Jul 28th, 2011 at 11:00AM: "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, his point being that if some fans didn't like his good-natured heckling, they could sit somewhere else--and lighten up. This...

The Final Shuttle Launch and the Future of the Space Coast

The Final Shuttle Launch and the Future of the Space Coast Jul 27th, 2011 at 8:00AM: 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 we were in Central Florida to see a blast off, and so to the Space Coast we were headed....

Road Trip Gear: Seven Must-Have Essentials

Road Trip Gear: Seven Must-Have Essentials Jul 25th, 2011 at 12:30PM: 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 have more junk to haul to my room. But there's a small batch of necessities I keep coming back to day in and day out....

Six Driving Tips from a Summer Spent on the American Road

Six Driving Tips from a Summer Spent on the American Road Jul 24th, 2011 at 9:00AM: This summer, I've driven more than 5,000 miles, from the Great Lakes to New England to Florida and beyond. Operating my car for more than 150 hours in about six weeks doesn't make me a professional driver, but it certainly has exposed me to heaps of stupidity on America's highways, interstates and surface roads. With my summer's experience, I respectfully submit the best six ways you can...

In Search of Serendipity in Savannah

In Search of Serendipity in Savannah Jul 22nd, 2011 at 4:30PM: Sitting in the passenger seat of a lime green Mustang, driving out of the historic center of Savannah, I started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into. A guy in a black suit was taking me, well, somewhere. I asked where we were headed. "Bonaventure," said Shannon, as he started describing one of the biggest cemeteries in the area and the funerary traditions of Georgia's generations...

Folly Beach, South Carolina: The Country's Greatest Fourth of July

Folly Beach, South Carolina: The Country's Greatest Fourth of July Jul 20th, 2011 at 12:00PM: This most recent Fourth of July, on a beach in South Carolina, a guy named Freddie handed me a beer after I took his photo in front of his American flag. He'd just done his best Iwo Jima pose, and as I tapped his email address into my phone, promising to send him the pictures very soon, he insisted I take a turn hoisting the stars and stripes. Road trip tip: Do whatever a beer-toting,...

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