As much as I enjoy a good ol’ country road or zipping through a favorite mountain run, I always reserve adulation for highway driving. In recent years primarily on the U.S. Interstate Highway system
Get out there and drive
A vast network of divided freeway connecting the lower 48. Totaling over 48,000 miles in length
Two to three lanes per direction is typical, yet around metropolitan areas the number of merges necessary to grab a fast lane can have your head spinning. Up to 13 (!) in places. As the famous say goes “Everything’s bigger in Texas.”
Sure, driving the German Autobahn is nice. You find out how far 6th gear will stretch in your fancy sports car.
Some rentals I sampled over there probably required copious recalibration of pedal travel.
Or you can appreciate superb stretches of Italian Autostrada. If racking up toll fees is your poison.
Christ almighty, cough up another 45 euro to the sleazy Italian bureaucrats when just an hour ago you burned a hole in my wallet passing through Rimini?
Also, why is fuel there so damn expensive? Sorry Europe, your metric system is as lame as your foreign oil dependence.
Geopolitics and systems of measurement aside, nowhere else on the planet can you traverse a whole continent and witness its grandeur with the least amount of interruption. Passports? Leave them at home. Petrol and toll costs? Save your arm and leg. Not to mention we are a modern democracy (still I guess) so omit any greasy dealings with uniformed Uzbeks sporting AK-47’s.
Road movies cannot capture the spirit of a coast-to-coast
The feeling of open space. So much so that point A to B lose meaning. A scale which you easily catch yourself in suspended animation. Barreling down at 90mph with everything around you at standstill.
The experience is one to be shared with family and friends as much as it begs you to be selfish.
To the sound of your favorite music instead of your six-year old’s “Are we there yet?” loop, can be downright medicinal.
Picture cruising uphill on I-15 by Angeles forest. Top-down and flirting 100mph. An amber ball of hydrogen gas low on the horizon floods the rearview. Couple cans of Red Bull and large bag of pizza Combos at arm’s length on the passenger seat. Your Mx-5 as ecstatic about the next 1,000 miles of non-stop driving. Easy to realize why we bond with machine in such special ways
Other than two dark strips of pavement and the occasional signage, it may be hours before you encounter another soul or anything resembling civilization. You must endure. Plan your stops. It is a nasty proposition to be anywhere below half a tank by the time you enter the San Rafael Swell. Pray not to have a breakdown as it can easily turn into a nightmare scenario
You are at ease when a trucker’s reds shine way down the road, serving as reminder you did not cross into another dimension.
Much needed respite for the bladder. Fill her up with premium, restock on sugar and caffeine. Keep racking up them miles. The same sun that set behind you greets you up front.
There are of course unnerving or equally comical moments
The late night ’05 run to Vegas with my buddy Andreas.
While on I-70 somewhere around bumfuck nowhere Utah, a town called Cisco played a nasty Groundhog Day trick on us.
For the love of God, why have two separate exits spaced 30 miles apart for one abandoned mining town with a listed population of 4? No wonder we got crazies here claiming alien abduction.
Been about 17 years driving on interstates.
From the Kansas flatlands to the frozen hinterlands of Nebraska, and the drenched and lush savannah of South Carolina. Barely scratched the surface.
Some memorable extremes? I recall a Death Valley pitstop by Baker, CA right around midnight one July. A brutal 105F heatwave blasted my face, as if I opened the gates of hell instead of my driver’s door. Or that one on I-29 south of Fargo, ND at minus 30F. Frozen nostrils and notable shrinkage factor
I declare low-cost airfare as overrated. Get out there and drive.
When you arrive raise a glass to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Besides kicking Nazi butt in WW2, the man had enough foresight to build these awesome roadways.
Obviously excelled at serving whole continents on a platter. Salut!
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