Five Favorite Suggested Road Trips – Summer 2012 Edition

Portland Bubbler
One suggestion would be to meet these bubblers at the end of a very long journey. Photo by Randy Stern

Just before the national holiday, global warming reared its ugly head.

Record highs were noted in the South, where 100-plus degree (Fahrenheit) heat scorched in places where you thought they would not. Some cities were greeted with extreme severe weather – heavy thunderstorms, huge hail and so on. The Twin Cities roasted from Pride Sunday through Canada Day.

There was not enough bottled water to cool down our planet on this side of the Solstice.

Yet, we journeyed on. Summer trumpets the season of road trips. Heat be damned – we are going somewhere And the air conditioning will be charged and ready to cool us down!

That is the American (and Canadian) spirit. We want to take our vehicles somewhere different and explore what we only seen on television or online. We may opt to go somewhere familiar to add to the great time we had the last time we visited. It would old friends – or new – to see. Heck, it could be that watering hole you had a great time doing karaoke where you brought the house down of your semi-intoxicated version of "Midnight Train to Georgia"…oh, wait, that was me!

I covered road trips before on here. This brings me to produce this year's Five Favorite suggested road trips to do, if time and funding permitted. This time, I expanded my scope to include our growing readership in Canada (Hello, my friends up north!) as you might see a familiar road or destination you might want to try.

Enough introductions here! The road beckons!

BACK TO THE MOUNTAINS: If there was one highlight of my four years in Washington, DC and Northern Virginia, it was my weekends away from home. I would rent a car for two-to-three days and simply go somewhere. Some weekends were spent in Philadelphia, while others were spread out over a swath stretching from the Lehigh Valley down to the Hampton Roads and out into Southwest Virginia. Some of the more epic drives happened once I reached the mountain ranges that once kept the former British colonies from expanding westward. Interstates 68, 70 and 81 offered a mix of great scenery and challenging drives. Add the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the mix. However, there were two roads I never had a chance to drive on – Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. These are the East Coast's answer to the Angeles Crest Highway. Though highly patrolled with pedestrian speed limits, it never stopped anyone from taking the curves and the views at an enjoyable pace. All I need to do is to fly into one of the airports near Washington, line up a good car that would take these drives in stride – and do it.

MY OWN DREAM CRUISE: I have been invited by a few folks to partake into the Woodward Dream Cruise next month near Detroit. I love to, but the timing and logistics simply do not work. But, what if it did work, how could I do it? There are two choices: Drive directly from the Twin Cities into Detroit or start somewhere closer. If I began at the V&R Garage, that would be a 12-hour journey and 715 miles to the party on Woodward Avenue. I am not sure if I have the stamina to do that. I could start from Chicago – meaning I would have to fly, take Amtrak or take Megabus. That cuts the trip to under five hours with 293 miles of road work. I could live with that. Or, I could cheat even more, take Sun Country Airlines to Lansing – and drive in from there. Either way, I would be able to Tweet-up, meet-up, cruise, hobnob with the industry…and so forth. Yeah, but with what car could I accomplish all of this in? That could take another paragraph to parse out…

A POST-REUNION TOUR: Oh, that's right – I am not< going to Reseda High School's Class of 1982 30th Reunion! Yet, there are those who wish to stay connected for what we do – how do I make it up to you? It does mean flying into Los Angeles and having a car to do the miles in. It means massive meandering throughout Southern California, even stretching down to San Diego for a meal at Rick Sweeney's ("Top Chef") R Gang Eatery in Hillcrest. Then, it is a beeline up Interstate 5. Destination: Portland, Oregon – with stops along the way to see old friends near Sacramento and Medford. I might even divert to Sonoma County – who knows? This is a route I have driven before. Interstate 5 offers up some nice challenges over the Grapevine/Tejon Pass in the south and around Shasta Lake in the north. Once in the Willamette Valley, the interstate becomes a pretty corridor. Though the length can be a challenge, spacing it out to spend time with friends along the way helps to make it worth the jaunt. As for the vehicle – something powerful enough to manage the Grapevine and the Shasta Lake portions and comfortable enough to get through the San Joaquin and Willamette Valleys would do.

CROWD-SOURCED BY YOU: A reader on Facebook offered up a drive through his current home state for a potential road trip. Actually, that trip was something of a former tradition amongst my friends up here in The Cities. Back in the day, Interstate 35 was a corridor that linked guys from the Twin Cities to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Friendships were made – relationships, too. Then, it all fell apart. Maybe it is time to rebuild that link – from a different perspective. Having been as far south as Des Moines, I need to find a way to conquer the rest of Interstate 35. That means stretching it out to Kansas City, into Kansas, Oklahoma and into Texas. Perhaps, I could do the reverse. Either way, I have friends and colleagues in the Metroplex to visit that would either welcome me or send me off. This may mean that my other Texas friends would join me along the way. Not to mention, visit all the crazy places I only heard of along the way. After years of adventures being told along this corridor, maybe it is my turn to add to the story of Interstate 35.

INVADING WINNIPEG: Canada is about several hours away from home. By road, I have a choice of border crossings, but the one I would prefer to do is near the northeast corner of North Dakota into Manitoba. Winnipeg has more to offer than Thunder Bay, which makes it an obvious choice. The staging would be easy as I have friends in Fargo-Moorhead and Grand Forks to help plan and plot my way into The 'Peg. The higher speed limits in North Dakota also help make matters more manageable. In all, a trip across the border via Interstate 29 would take me over seven hours of driving time, covering over 451 miles of road. Come to think of it, Winnipeg is symbolic for an interesting reason – geography. There two distinct Canadian readerships here – Toronto and Edmonton. Isn't The 'Peg sort of equidistant to these two cities? Oh, yeah – a meeting of V&R's Canadian readership! What a great idea! It may just take a Chrysler product to bring everyone to The 'Peg…

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  1. Do the trip to Texas. It will be worth it I know myself and some other great people would love to show you our state.

    1. Rob – I wonder if Becky from Ford's DFW PR team would help here. Plus, I need to raise funds for air fare, petrol and accomodations…and get time off.

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