Travelogue: The Return of The Summer Road Trip – Mine? (Part 3)

The road trip is still one of the most iconic travel adventures we can still take. 

This summer, there is a renewed feeling of wanderlust. You may have been cooped up working from home, staying safe, ordering food and everything else for delivery, and avoiding the universe by consuming your free time with social media mayhem.  

It is worth repeating that the opportunities are there now that the world is starting to open up slowly. Now is the time to consider taking that step beyond your next normal and seeing what you have been missing.

Since last March, we have been putting our toes into the pool. I know I have been doing road trip stories where the risk level had been tested. The purpose of doing so was to demonstrate that one can navigate the world even in the face of fluctuating guidelines, local attitudes, and being aware of your own safety. 

It wasn’t easy, I’ll admit. However, there is plenty of the evidence on this website for your perusal.  

Still, I’m feeling the urge to get back on the road again. Why? Consider that I am done celebrating V&R’s 10th anniversary and that my workflow on the media side has eased a bit. 

As you probably figured out, my want of wanderlust of perpetual. I love being out in the world – at least in the USA. I always side on what I am able to do within reason, ability, and benefit. 

In this installment, I decided to look at both possible road trips that are doable in the present climate of the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as I want to jump on a plane and go halfway across the country, I found that it will be a challenge given current travel guidelines. More so today, with more passengers filing through understaffed Transportation Security Administration queues and more flights in the air. 

Here's my ideas. I just hope to do at least one of them sometime in the next month or so…

CHASING MUSEUMS: I keep on hearing how great the Gilmore Car Museum is located near Kalamazoo, this large campus has multiple building featuring either certain brands or eras. Included in these buildings are special exhibitions with a specific focus on an automotive topic. From there, it is to Auburn, Indiana and the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum where the focus is on three of the finest automobile brands of its time. Then, it is a hop to South Bend and the Studebaker National Museum. I was just born when Studebaker enjoyed its last days in the spotlight. Coming from the Twin Cities, it may require an overnight stop in the Chicago area for staging and downtime. This trip would require five days to accomplish and approximately 1,400 miles of driving. Plus, paying tolls in two states. The history degree holder in me – and amateur history lover – craves for a trip such as this. 

NASHVEGAS: Not knowing who would be offended by calling Nashville that name, but I saw it on a t-shirt and thought that it was somewhat appropriate. Entertainment is what drives the city that is home to Music Row, Nissan, Infiniti, and Mitsubishi. My plan is to try to visit the headquarters of these brands out in suburban Franklin (that is, if they let me in), as well as the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville. Rumor has it that there is a Nissan collection at their headquarters worth inquiring about. There is one specific stop that I will make: The National Corvette Museum and the General Motors Bowling Green Assembly facility (NOTE: The Museum is open to the public, but not the assembly facility). This trip should cover approximately 1,800 miles of driving with staging stops in the Chicago area coming to and from Nashvegas. 

WESTWARD, HO! First of all, who are you calling a “ho?” Secondly, I want to take my own advice and head for the Black Hills of South Dakota. For me, there is a lot to see. Spots would include Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Monument, Sturgis, Spearfish, Deadwood…am I missing anything. Driving would take all day (for me, with stops, of course), including going through almost the entire length of South Dakota (I’ve been warned that it would not be interesting) and spending three nights in Rapid City as my base. All told, I should cover approximately 1,400 miles of driving. To see one of this country’s collection of treasures should be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

RECONNECTING WITH THE BLOOMS: The timeline seemed foggy, but my mother was born at what is now the Rush University Medical Center campus and my grandparents lived in Beloit, Wisconsin at that time. What I cannot recall from my lineage was when her family moved from Wisconsin to Cincinnati. Funny thing – I came close to visiting that city some 23 years ago. It is time to visit that city. There are plenty of things to see, however there are places I will never be able to see from my mom’s time in that city. From Crossley Field to the textile mill my grandfather worked at are probably gone. Forget trying to find where they lived on Mitchell Avenue. This trip will eat up 1,400 miles of driving with staging stops in the Chicago area. I may just stop in Indianapolis on the way back. 

KEEP ON GOING? Epic road trips should take you where you want to go. You can plan all you want, but sometimes wanderlust is rooted in the word “wander.” The idea to go without a schedule or plan. Without reservations and agendas. Maybe to see a long lost friend somewhere (Pro Tip: please make sure you contact said friend and let them know you’re coming). Or, simply to get lost – within reason, of course. I always wanted to loop around to states I have never been to. To meet new folks along the way. To do something out of my comfort zone, even though I always have my guard up when my comfort zone felt threatened. Crap…I just talked myself out of doing such a road trip…but, you get the idea. 

Oh, wanderlust. How it can be such an absurd obsession? If you have it – and have the time and means to do so – this summer is worth exploring!

All photos by Randy Stern

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