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December 3rd, 2010:

The Driveabout

spring 2004 solo east coast tourI’ve decided it is time to have a look at America. So in a few hours, I’m heading out to see the country on what I like to call an epic driveabout.

I’m not really sure yet where I’m going, only that I need to be in LA by December 10th and would like to be back in Michigan by the 15th. I have no idea what I’ll see in between, but you can be sure I’ll be blogging daily about whatever I come across.

I’ve set up a few rules for the trip — at least for the first leg of it.

1: No highways

With all due respect to President Eisenhower, the interstate highway system is boring as hell. Everything looks the same, and because they are so over-engineered, you always feel like you are traveling painfully slow–even with the speedometer is pushing eighty miles an hour. So unless I need to bypass a sprawling metro area, highways are forbidden.

2: I’m hotwiring everything

I like my hotels cheap, clean and random. That is why I’m booking every night’s accommodation the morning of via The only requirement is that they provide free internet access and a full breakfast. And no, “continental breakfast” doesn’t count.

3. Every historical plaque will be read

Every single one of those green and gold historical plaques that line the highways has a story behind it. Usually one of a long and painful bureaucratic fight to get the damn thing erected in commiseration of a trivial event that only a handful of activists care about. That is good enough for me. So if I see a historical plaque, I’m stopping to read and photograph it.

4. The same thing goes for Wal-Drug and Mystery Spot-type attractions

If your cheesy tourist attraction has billboards for hundreds of miles, you’ve earned my visit. I’ll be stopping at each and every one of these shrines of Americana, provided, of course, that they take credit cards.

That’s about is. Aside from tourist traps with billboards and historical plaques, I have no real agenda. I’ll be checking in with Atlas Obscura every night to see if there is anything noteworthy coming my way, but other than that I’m open for suggestions.

If you know of something I should stop and see in the great swath of Red America between the Great Lakes and California, please let me know.

Check back tomorrow night for an update from Indiana, Illinois or Missouri.

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