The road trip is a culturally engrained American experience, with classic journeys such as Route 66 etched in popular culture. The reasons for making the trip can vary. Maybe it’s getting from A to B, or the transportation of goods, or travel for the sheer hell of it. But in the winter months, not so many people attempt such a journey for fun.
I was an unintentional traveller, drawn to the Unites States to attend a wedding and visit family. When both those options failed to materialize and with the tickets already booked, what option did I have?
To cross a continent as varied and as vast as America is a huge under- taking, passing from urban and liberal metropolises to desert, moun- tains and swamps, and then back to a liberal metropolis You start in what you feel is America, and as the miles grind away, on back water roads to behemoth five-lane freeways, you start to wonder if where you started was a true reflection of the nation.
Can you understand a culture in five weeks? I doubt it. Nineteen states fly by, some in a day. You try to plan it as best you can, but there are so many factors at play that determine your path, Crippling cold forced us south, and we encountered closed roads and campsites.
Then there are the interactions. When you move so far, you are often limited to brief interactions – service encounters,, questions like “where y’all from?” and “where y’all going?”. Then it’s back into the city, to be surrounded by those with no time to stop, their headphones tightly packed into their ears.
The vastness of America is humbling but also lonely. With Thanksgiving over and campsites deserted, the road becomes your only companion.