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It is one day, almost exactly 24 hours, before we leave for our “we’ve all come to look for America” “discovering the land between two coasts” “what’s up with this country anyway?” “deTocqueville meets William Least Heat Moon” cross-country trip. We’ll be car-camping across the northern heartland on the only non-freeway, old-style 2-lane road in the U.S. that runs from coast to coast.

No, not Route 66, the “Mother Road.” That ran only from Chicago to California and is now chopped up anyway. I’m talking about humble route 20, which starts in Newport, Oregon, traverses the vast, sparsely populated, deep Red width of Oregon, then meanders through the girth of Idaho, dips into Yellowstone, makes its way across the sandhills of Nebraska, into Iowa (Fort Dodge!), then a snippet of Illinois (beginning with the lovely town of Galena, birthplace of U.S. Grant). Then it’s northern Indiana and Ohio (can you say audiobook) before ambling through the New York Finger Lake region (and Seneca Falls, birthplace of the woman’s suffrage movement) and into the Berkshires of Massachusetts (yes, the Camp Tamarac of my youth). Route 20 ends, 3,365 miles later, in Boston.

Am I excited? Buoyed by anticipation? Hell ya.

In fact, research shows that this is the happiest I am going to feel about this adventure. A study by Netherlands social scientists (they interviewed more 1,500 people) found that vacationers were most happy before their trips. Planning, anticipation, thinking about all the fun and adventure—that’s the best. The trip itself? Who knows? Tedium, bad diner food, frigid mornings in the tent, domestic squabbles. Just sayin.

So right now, this moment, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of this trip.

More to come.


1 Kim { 08.29.18 at 6:28 pm }

I’m anxious as hell before trips. Then I settle down. I’ll miss you. See you on the coast in a few weeks! Drive safe! Text me!

2 Lauren { 08.30.18 at 12:48 am }

Can’t wait to ride on the elevator!

3 kim { 08.29.18 at 6:29 pm }

PS. Post college bf was from ft. dodge.

4 Jon K. { 08.29.18 at 10:27 pm }

Route 20 goes right through downtown Albany NY (good luck on navigating that), and crosses the Hudson River into Rensselaer County. Just a few miles south of a certain technological university.

5 Lauren { 08.30.18 at 12:47 am }

route 20 goes through TWO Albanys! Oregon and NY. It also goes within about 3 miles of what used to be Camp Tamarac.

6 Richard Greene { 08.30.18 at 12:10 am }

We did a cross country drive 2 years ago and the big change from last time we did it is cell phone reception. Using Yelp and Google to find places to eat, coffee, wifi connections helped not only to smooth out things but was much better than playing license plate bingo for passing time.

7 Lauren { 08.30.18 at 12:46 am }


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