Summer Means One Thing: Road Trip!

In my personal book of life, few things are more all-American than mom, apple pie, and road trips! And summer, that sacred season of “summer vacations”, is the prime road trip season. As small children we were piped the dream of endless adventure via road trips. Remember that little ditty “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go”? Notice that you don’t just go to see grandma. You go over the river and through the woods—adventure, via a road. Every kid returning to school in the fall for decades has been asked the eternal question: “How did you spend your summer vacation?” The expectation is always that you went somewhere and did something. Again, I submit to you that going somewhere to do something generally entails a road trip adventure. Whoo hoo, road trip! For me a road trip most often includes my motorcycle, and it is an excuse for me to get out and ride.

It is said that the popularity of the bicycle in 1880s-1890s spurred the beginnings of national interest in a road system. The year 1893, brought out a new Office of Road Inquiry (ORI) here in the United States, which began with a budget of $10,000. I guess before this time, we were a country of trails, paths, a few bridges, and some well worn compasses. Detroit's Woodward Avenue holds the distinction of being the first concrete paved road in America. At a cost of $13,534, Woodward Avenue was laid down just outside Detroit in 1908, and is still thoroughly cruised and enjoyed to this very day. (If you want to be picky, asphalt paving came before concrete, and that would make Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C. and Fifth Ave. in New York slightly older than Woodward Ave.)

As we all know, that was really just the beginning. The 1920s-1960s saw the evolution of America through its roadways. The roads were increasingly funded and their number grew with aid from the Federal government in money and manpower. From Detroit in 1908, up through the ALCAN (Alaska-Canadian Highway) in the 1940’s the US expanded the possibilities of mobility, travel, and adventure across the entire country. Once we got started the pavement just kept on rolling. The American road system is an expression of our national interests at their deepest levels. We live to travel to new places, seek out adventure, and to be free. The open road holds a sacred allure for most of us that can only be equaled with personal air travel (balloons, helicopters, planes, hang-gliding, etc.).

I submit to you that NOT taking a road trip sometime this summer is not only a waste of summer, but it is un-American. I know that gas prices are already going back up. I know that time is a luxury that is hard to come by, and that times themselves are equally tough. However, I also know that that a road trip can bring back the adventure and excitement to your soul. See new things, become an explorer, and feel young again. We live in one of the biggest, most diverse and interesting places in the entire world: geologically, historically, pre-historically, ethnically, and with bonus points for some extreme originality. I challenge you to rediscover yourself, to rediscover your country, and to share it with those that matter most, your family. In return, I can promise you that the best family bonding can occur on a road trip, even a bad one. Friendships are forged, stress relieved, and miles re-lived for years to come. Celebrate your all-American heritage: the open road, a vehicle of your choice, and possibly the adventure of a lifetime awaits.


  • Canyon de Chelley, Arizona
  • The Great River Road, Illinois, along the Mississippi River
  • Badlands, South Dakota
  • Wind River Canyon, Wyoming
  • Wall Drug, South Dakota

For More Information:

History Lesson On A Century Of Cars: A look back at the defining device of the 20th century.
By Scott Oldham. Published in Popular Mechanics, January 2000 issue

Automobile History: The History of Cars and Engines
By Mary Bellis, About.com

Originally posted in Genius Solutions, Inc, Summer 2009, Newsletter
Written by Penny Henriksen, newsletter writer and editor
*Penny is chaco_kid

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