The All American Road Trip

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.

I love going on a good road trip.  There is simply no way I can deny it.  When the road is familiar and I have done the drive a million times then it is no good, but being on the open road in unfamiliar territory is one of my favorite things to do.

Mommy Points posted yesterday about why flying is better than roadtripping. While I don’t dispute any of her assertions, I still think there is room in my life for both. (She actually made excellent points and her post is well worth reading.)

Spending weeks or months out on the open road can be an amazing thing. A couple of years ago Shawn Reece and I set out to Denver with no idea of where the road would take us after that. We had about three weeks and eventually ended up camping our way across the center of the country before heading to Toronto and eventually back home. In the end we visited 25 states plus Ontario.

Sometimes you have to stop just to take a picture of the state sign!
Sometimes you have to stop just to take THAT picture no matter how stupid.

We have done several other trips which could be measured in weeks instead of days that were fantastic. Whether it was camping in the middle of Ohio only to be freaked out by the bugs or making our way through Yellowstone as we gazed in awe at the scenery, we have had so many great moments on the road. Of course, there are stupid things too. Like stopping in the middle of a corn field to take our picture in front of the North Dakota sign. Ah memories.

Mommy Points’ post reminded me though of some of the less fun trips that we have undertaken as a family. My dad lives about a twelve hour drive away from us. His closest airport is Sacramento which is still two hours from his house and flights there can be expensive. Lets just say that we have done that drive too many times for my liking.

With miles and points, often times a road trip is actually the more expensive option.  If I could pay a flight with points, then why not do it?  A road trip now has to give me value.  It has to be the journey instead of the route between A & B.  It has to take me somewhere in route to somewhere else.

Weird things can be fun. Art at 100 Acres Park at Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Weird things can be fun like this art at 100 Acres Park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

I love the roadside attractions and other oddities found along the way as well. Seemingly stupid things like a row of Cadillacs buried in the dirt can become huge tourist destinations. This is the type of thing that made the “All American Road Trip” so popular in the first place.

Traveling this way depends on the family dynamic. Going back to when he was six, Shawn Reece has always been able to calm himself down when in a moving vehicle. This proved helpful during long car and bus rides in North & Central America along with long bus and train rides throughout Asia. I am not sure how we could travel this way if that wasn’t the case.

I posted an article last week about American travel plans over this upcoming 4th of July. 80% of those who are traveling will be doing so in their cars. Even though we don’t take weeks to slowly wander down roads like Route 66 anymore, the road trip is still a vital part of our culture.

My family only really roadtripped between Los Angeles & Las Vegas. The drive is boring and ugly and the four hours can seem like days, or at least it did when I was a kid. I didn’t really appreciate how amazing a road trip can be until we left in 2007. Suddenly everything I was seeing was new and we were sharing it all as a family. For me, that is what it’s all about.

Cedar Breaks National Monument. Taken on a road trip in 2009.
Cedar Breaks National Monument. Taken on a road trip in 2009.

With Independence Day coming up it is now the height of road trip season. I have spent a great deal of my adult life finding ways to get out of the country, but I do admit that I am glad for those months that I have spent on the road, behind the wheel of my car, getting to know America a little better.

Whenever I meet people from other places who have visited our vast country, they tell me how varied and beautiful it is. It took me awhile, but I am glad that I have started to see exactly what they are talking about. Do I still love international travel more than anything? Yes, but there is still nothing quite like the “All American Road Trip”.

Do you love to take road trips? Where do you like to visit and what amazing attractions have you seen along the way?  Let me know below!


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  1. I know this is an old article but we’re also one of those families who love doing road trips. In the spring of 2013, we traced Route 66 route in Oklahoma starting from Campbell Hotel a historical landmark. We had so much fun, we even stayed in one of those old motels ‘restored’ like they were in the 60s. Next time, we’ll trace it going to Chicago.

    We’ve done road trips in major cities in the USA and Canada. Hopefully, my kids will pass on the experience to their kids with all the good memories they had while growing up.

    • Having driven many parts of route 66 I still would love to do the entire thing one of these years. Roadtripping is an amazing family travel experience that I think is beneficial in so many ways. Thanks Mimi!

  2. I felt the same way after reading Mommy Points’s article. Two things for me

    1) I’m trying to visit every county in the United States, so I usually drive. When flying, it’s too hard to read the Welcome to County signs at 30,000 feet 🙂

    2) With a family of 8, a lot of times it’s much cheaper to drive than to get 8 plane tickets…

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  4. Started from San Francisco I headed down the Coastal Highway. Went down about as far as Hearst Castle (with Monterey Bay and other stops along the way). Then cut over to Yosemite and Redwood State Park.

    Also once had business in Casper, Wyoming. Did the drive from Jackson Hole to Casper. Then headed back through the Grand Tetons and into Yellowstone NP.

    I like road trips even better before cell phones and all the ways to reach me. When you passed the first state line you felt unreachable. If you hadn’t tell people what hotels you were staying at you pretty much were.

    • The drive down the coast from San Francisco is stunning. I have done that same drive down the coast and then to Yosemite. Wonderful.

      You are so right about cell phones. When we left the country in 2007 I went without a cell phone for almost 18 months. People only heard from me when I decided to call. It was freeing.

  5. I have road tripped across the lower 48 all the Canadian provinces, some of Canada’s territories, and Alaska over the years. Most of the travel has been on U.S. highways or the trans Canada highway….I only drive interstates if I’m in a hurry. The last long road trip I took was from Ohio to Alaska. The only interstate I was on was I-75 from Flint to St. Ignace, MI.

  6. I live in New York City and loathe driving here, but put me in NV, AZ, NM, UT or even CO and I love nothing more than setting cruise control to 70 and taking in the scenery.

    I did a really amazing road trip starting in Denver and driving across several states including WY, SD, MT, ID, UT and back to Denver. I was always in awe of the ever-changing landscape as well as being able to stop and go as I pleased.

    I do love flying and the ability it affords you to be somewhere different in a matter of hours. However, there’s something about driving that just makes you stop, slow down, and take it all in.

    • I agree that driving on the East coast isn’t as much fun and you are right about being able to take it all in when driving. It definitely is a different way to travel.


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