On the Road Again

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Summer is upon us, and with it, the unmistakable urge for going. I’ve got a trip lined up in a few weeks to visit my family on the west coast, and it’s great that I can get on a plane in Pittsburgh and land in San Francisco five hours later, but (and I may be in the minority when I say this), I’d rather drive. The Great American Road Trip has been memorialized in film, music, and literature, from Steinbeck’s classic cross-country voyage, Travels With Charley, to Judd Apatow’s more recent stoner-fueled, feel-good, mother-son movie, The Guilt Trip. Yeah, these two couldn’t be more different, but they convey the same message- vacations are more than just the destination, they’re the time it takes to get there, too.

Perhaps road-tripping hasn’t gone out of style. The internet is abuzz with travel blogs, from young couples who’ve traded in their 9-5 jobs for the freedom to vagabond about in their rehashed Airstream trailers to listings of the weirdest, wackiest roadside oddities America has to offer (my personal favorite: the now defunct Hobbiton, a guided audio tour on a dense, wooded path which told the story of Bilbo’s adventure, complete with kitschy wooden cutouts and paper mache sculptures, nestled in the redwoods about 200 miles north of the Bay Area). There’s just so much we miss when we fly 36,000 feet in the air, and so much to be gained by trolling about the backroads of forgotten cities. The good news is, I’ve got a five hour drive to my destination once I reach San Francisco. If that doesn’t satisfy, I’ll just live vicariously through some of my go-to road trip titles:

Carsick
By John Waters
DB 79557

Film director and author of “Role Models” (DB 71591) chronicles his trip hitchhiking across America from his home in Baltimore to his co-op in San Francisco in 2012. Details what it took to find rides and the people he met in his travels. Strong language. Bestseller.  2014.

Walk Two Moons
By Sharon Creech
DB 39621

A year ago, Sal’s grieving mother left Sal and her father to visit Idaho and never returned. Sal’s father has accepted that his wife is not coming back, but Sal has not. As she and her grandparents travel to Idaho to find her mother, Sal tells them “an extensively strange story” about her new friend Phoebe, whose mother also disappeared. And Sal gets to walk two moons in her mother’s moccasins. For grades 3-6 and older readers. Newbery Medal. 1994.

Skinny Legs and All
By Tom Robbins
DB 31173

Newlyweds Boomer Petway and Ellen Cherry Charles are off to New York in a turkey–a van resembling a turkey. The turkey’s creation was Boomer’s gift to Ellen and an incentive to marry him. The artist in Ellen is intrigued by extraordinary things. The couple’s passion reawakens some such things as a Can O’Beans, a Spoon, and a Dirty Sock–philosophers all. Strong language and descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 1990.