Each month, we pitch a new question to our staff and readers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, email it to us. This month we asked: What is the road trip of your dreams?
After picking up my lover in an obscenely expensive sports car and driving it at least 100 mph the whole way from New York to L.A., and then into the Pacific Ocean, I’d commandeer a luxury cruise liner and buy out all the rooms. With a (really attractive) full staff in place, the rooms would be filled (or not! I don’t want to have to wait too long in the buffet lines!) with good friends and former lovers, many of whom would bring really good drugs for all to share. Nightly karaoke would be mandatory, and the captain would be forced to occasionally let me steer. Then, weeks into our cruise of the South Pacific, my lover and I would disembark to a private island, uninhabited save for the bowtie-wearing monkey helpers working the resort. These monkey helpers have been trained, mind you, to perform housekeeping, bartending, and shiatsu massage impeccably. There would be air-conditioning units and flat screens (HD cable hookup, obvs.) attached to the palm trees, and my lover would happily volunteer to wear only a Josephine Baker-style banana thong during our stay. Then, I would eat the bananas.
Liz Entman Harper
Paul Theroux already did it, but I don’t care: I want to drive from Gibraltar to Tangiers, the long way around. I’d start in Gibraltar and head toward Barcelona, on to Marseilles, to Nice, to Genoa, to Naples, down through Calabria, up to Bari, then Venice, then Trieste, down to Split, then Dubrovnik, along the Adriatic coast of Albania and Greece to Athens, then back up to Thessaloniki, then Izmir, Antalya, Iskendrun, Beirut, and Tel Aviv, down through the Sinai to Alexandria, along the Libyan coast to Tripoli, up to Tunis, over to Oran, a pit stop in Tetouan—where an old Star Wars set still stands in the desert—and finally Tangiers, where I will drink a glass of mint tea and read Paul Bowles at sunset. Not that I’ve been daydreaming about it or anything.
I think it was Steve Perry who said, “It’s not the destination that’s important—it’s the journey.” In honor of that great, tenor-voiced, proboscis-ly challenged philosopher of arena rock, my fantasy road trip is a pilgrimage to the sunny state of Florida. According to my sources (aka Gawker), “The Voice” was last spotted at the Del Boca Vista retirement community (Phase 3), sitting poolside, nursing a jeroboam of white zinfandel and a bucket of fried chicken. Anyone have a TomTom I can borrow?
Just the family and a well-serviced VW campervan. We’d drive east, across the center of England, and catch an overnight car ferry to Denmark. From there it would be north all the way: across the lowlands of Denmark, then over the Øresund Bridge into Sweden, then immediately double back into Norway and its incredible west coast. Then more north. We’d hug the fjords, loiter in the forests, and swim wherever possible. We’d drive as far as we could, aiming for the Arctic Circle and the Northern Lights. It would be good to get as far as Hammerfest, maybe even Nordkapp. After our northern climax, we’d wend slowly back south through Sweden, taking our time. We’d pause for any reason. No laptops or phones would accompany us.
I will be getting married in fall 2011, and my fiancé and I really want to embark upon an excellent and unique honeymoon. We both came up with the idea of doing a road trip to the Southeastern U.S. There’s something about a road trip that begs both a special time in one’s life, as well as ample time to see everything that you want to see. We plan on seeing Nashville, Memphis (Graceland!), Atlanta, and the North Carolina Outer Banks—a place that seems so steeped in beauty and history. We’ve already traveled together quite a bit, with Caribbean cruises and Las Vegas weekends, and while the idea of heading to warmer climates as newlyweds is tempting, I think we’ll save that for our 10th anniversary.
Involving some sort of invention/magic less clunky than a scuba suit and more effortless than snorkeling, a large part of the trip would take place underwater, preferably with mythical creatures and a manatee. We’d eventually wind up back on dry land, in a classic convertible, with zero traffic, perfect weather, good music, and preferably some cows and horses scattered in the fields to either side. Part of the route would be along Highway 1 in California—no guardrails allowed—and hopefully someone would be filming it from a crane high above, for posterity. My friend Lesley would add the right soundtrack and our home movies would wind up looking like an opening credits sequence—a good one. My mom, our friend Laura, and Laura’s kids would join us for Graceland, and it’s not a road trip without the Grand Canyon, so we’d wind up there, too—this time with my friend Elizabeth, who knows where things like Truckhenge can be found for the drive back.
Mike Deri Smith
When solar power makes it free, a road trip hitting every European country would be wonderful. It’d be via a solar-powered, amphibious car. We’d fall asleep in Athens and wake up in Barcelona—fishing and picking up wine on the way. We’d then drive to Lisbon, Riga, and Belgrade. As marine and asphalt nomads, our gospel would be travel and togetherness, though secretly we’d be developing a solar-powered plane to leave Europe forever, turning road-trip to sky-life. Seagull for dinner, anyone?
In days of yore, long before digital orc hordes could convincingly stalk the multiplexes, and long, long after J.R.R. Tolkien’s spidery, intricate cartography had revealed his own vision of Middle Earth, there was only one place I really wanted to go: the 8-bit, heavily pixilated landscapes of The Hobbit, a text adventure game released for the ZX Spectrum in 1982. The Hobbit was a graphic adventure, with lavishly drawn scenes that were slowly drawn before your marveling eyes, their quality far exceeding any other video game environment. The descriptions themselves were brief, lyrical, and evocative. From the opening “you are in a comfortable, tunnel-like hall” to the next scene, a “gloomy, empty land with dreary hills ahead,” The Hobbit was a masterpiece of minimalism, full of places I really wanted to go—so I tried to recreate them. It was a road trip, albeit a mental one, but also an early indication that virtual worlds could eventually go some way toward replacing real spaces as sources of awe and wonder. That simple thrill of unexpected discovery is harder to find these days, but any fantasy road trip—real or virtual—would have to include it.
For all the road trip novels I’ve read, and road trip recountings I’ve listened to friends tell at parties, the truth is that I still don’t know how to drive. A fairly protected upbringing, coupled with boarding school and a walkable college town, have left me great at riding in cars—I’m a perfect companion, as long as you don’t need me to read a map or just pick a song and stick to it on an iPod, already—but unable to drive myself anywhere. I tell myself that my requisite dependence on public transportation is a boon for the environment. But secretly my fantasy trip would be to go solo, driving down the highways of the Oklahoma of my childhood with its horizons stretching to infinity, listening to whatever I want on my iPod. But fantasies are fantasies: My latest foray into driving wasn’t much more than some bad attempts at parking. We’ll see.
I don’t particularly enjoy driving, so a road trip is only appealing if I can be a passenger, exclusively. And ride in the front, because I get carsick in the back. So maybe this is a rail trip instead of a road trip, because trains are lovely—big cushy seats and massive windows, and you can bring food and booze, and even the most motion-sickness-prone of us (read: me) can manage to read while riding. As to where “we” are going, um, let’s pretend that South America has a decent rail system (I know it’s all buses there, but buses make me barfy, and this is fantasy, so), and we’ll go all over. “We” are me (duh) and my dear, beloved friend Kelly, who speaks fluent Spanish—you should hear her switch between accents!—and has proven to be the best and most fun traveling companion a young and adventurous lady could have. With Kelly, the Eating Tour I prefer would probably come second to the Places to Dance Salsa, but I’d go anywhere with her, method(s) of transportation regardless.
We’d head west, no set destination, just a direction. Chasing the sun, making the day last for all its worth. Hopefully the car would break down. We’d have to walk for ages to the next town. We’d stay with a family, do chores in exchange for meals. Once the car was fixed we’d barter with whatever we had, and continue on our way. We might head north next, wanting the only warmth to be each other’s bodies. It would be a road trip to discover that other person more than anything.
Nicholas de Soto
If I were going to go on a road trip it would have to be across a land made for road trips, and it would most certainly have to be made in a midnight blue ’69 Pontiac GTO named Sweet Nadine. We’d travel west from Washington, D.C., having one last drink at the Whale, heading out toward the setting sun. There’d be a stop in Wheeling, W.Va., where the Ohio River cuts through the mountains. There’d be a stop in St. Louis for ribs and cheap beer at Miss Kitty’s, a stop in Kansas to laugh at the world’s largest prairie dog looming over God’s country, and a stop in Denver for a little tail. Vegas of course, Barstow, L.A., and once we hit the coast you’d think we’d stop for good, but we wouldn’t.