Atlas Obscura has a fine, fine collection of the literary road trips that every allegiance-pledging, rights-billing, literate American should know by heart.
Of course, “On The Road” is in there (Go Denver!), but how well do you know “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” route? “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is required reading for any father — or son, but I never realized “Walk Across America” falls a little short of its intended goal.
Basically, what I’m saying is “Travels With Charley” just became my fall break road map.
Photo courtesy of Explorer Vans.
Hillary Clinton has gotten at least a little bit of publicity for her presidential campaign-launching trip across America in a conversion van she’s nicknamed “Scooby”, apparently after the Scooby Doo cartoon show’s Mystery Machine. While the van has had high visibility as Clinton’s made seemingly impromptu stops – like at a Chipotle restaurant and more staged campaign events while pundits have discussed the strategy and symbolism of Mrs. Clinton’s road trip – little attention in the general media has been paid to the van itself.
Currently, two of TTAC’s regular writers are
lumberjacks dirty communists Canadians: myself and Derek Kreindler. Today we celebrate our country’s one hundred and forty fifth year of being a sort of chillier, politer version of Australia.
I love Canada. It’s really… big. It’s big. Sure we discovered insulin and invented the pacemaker and created that game that’s a bit like hockey except there’s some baskets and a big orange thingy that you bounce around (can’t remember the name, tip of the tongue), but really, all true sons and daughters of the North are proud of one thing above all else: Canada’s the biggest country in the world. Apart from Russia, of course. (Read More…)
Back in 2004, I was doing a typical East Bay highway commute to my job writing software documentation. Ten miles each way in a Tercel (I had my choice of an ’85 wagon or a ’90 hatch), and the ever-increasing numbers of badly-driven SUVs on the Dreaded Nimitz were making me feel quite vulnerable in my little rice-burners. I needed a more substantial daily driver, and it damn sure wasn’t going to be an 8-MPG truck with 64-ouncer cup holders. What I needed, I decided, was an ex-cop Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor! (Read More…)
I’ve played many a game of Buzzword Bingo with equally bored coworkers while stuck in 19-hour PowerPoint presentations, back when I slaved as a tech writer in the software biz. Why not apply this concept to a bingo game for car freaks trapped in a boring rental car on a road trip across one of those states that’s nothing but cornfields? (Read More…)
After the Nixon-head-hood-ornamented Impala’s pilgrimage to the birthplace of Richard Nixon in the spring of 1994, I left Oakland and moved across the Bay to an apartment on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, home of the best burritos in the world. Little did I know that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be packing all my possessions into the Impala and blasting 2,500 miles to the southeast. (Read More…)
In Part 10, the Hell Project Impala got Fiat scoops on the hood and hit the I-5 trail again. By late 1993, the car looked more or less the way I’d planned when I started the project and had become a surprisingly good daily driver (thanks to more modern brakes and a reliable, HEI-equipped 350 engine). I still planned to do some suspension and horsepower upgrades, once the early 1990s recession relaxed its grip enough for me to land a decent-paying job, but the setup I had was fulfilling my driving needs very well. Then, in the spring of ’94, Richard Nixon died, and I decided to take the Nixon-hood-ornamented car down to his birthplace and mingle with the mourners. (Read More…)
Introduction • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5 • Part 6 • Part 7 • Part 8 • Part 9 • Part 10
In the last Impala Hell Project episode, the now-disc-brake-equipped Chevy and I hit Interstate 5 for some Generation X-style road tripping. Through late 1991 I continued my process of junkyard upgrades, and the car racked up some serious highway miles. (Read More…)
I’ve been scanning a lot of my old 35mm negatives and slides for the ongoing 1965 Impala Hell Project series (using a time-slows-to-crawl 1999-vintage SCSI film scanner), and I ran across this series of panoramic black-and-white photos that I shot in the early 1990s. (Read More…)
I’m normally pretty curmudgeonly about the inherent inferiority of old cars. A 5-year-old Camry will outperform just about every classic Detroit muscle car or Italian sports machine in nearly every category from comfort to acceleration. The windows fog up, you just push a button: problem solved. The asphalt gets rough, you don’t notice it: problem solved. Road trips in 60s cars in the pre-cell-phone era could turn particularly hellish; I’m trying to conjure up a sense of romance from my mid-80s memories of limping a Fairlane with a failing distributor down some godforsaken California Central Valley highway, in search of a junkyard with a Windsor-equipped donor car… and I just can’t do it. Yeah, the good old days were really pretty terrible. However, all that sensible real-world nonsense gets thrown right out the window when I go for a nighttime drive in rural America in a rattly-ass old car and a good song comes on the radio. Quick, get me a ’71 Plymouth Cricket and a stretch of two-lane! (Read More…)