Kerouac Had At Least One Thing Right

Editorial

There is a bus that you can catch from the outskirts of Antalya into the city center that takes the highway along the cliffs surrounding the harbor. The view from the windows of this bus is the kind of beautiful that makes even the heat of an August in southern Turkey well worth bearing. Dozing off for a nap in London and waking up in New York is one of those experiences that really reinforce the advantages of air travel.

And even more memorable is the Montreal subway, which for some reason seems to always be full of the most beautiful women I've ever seen anywhere in the world. Transportation makes lasting memories in ways that few things can, but it is road trips taken in cars that make for the best ones, or at least the most interesting. When I talk about road trips, I don't mean the ones you used to take with your family. Those are taken because the sheer amount of luggage/children prohibits flying, and are therefore inherently acts of desperation.

Acts of desperation can make for some pretty lasting memories as well, but never quite the kind you'd want to hang on to. The kinds of road trips that I'm talking about are the irrational ones. The kind of road trips you take just for the sake of being on the road. These trips are what I think of as the purest expression of freedom. To travel hundreds, or even thousands of miles on a whim, and using a route entirely of your own choosing, is something only someone who is truly free can do, and it helps if you're a bit crazy as well.

A trip to New Hampshire solely for ice cream allowed me to speak with authority on the subject of the staggering natural beauty found alongside the mountain roads of Vermont, and an overnight trip to New York City, for no reason whatsoever, forever burned into my mind the memory of creepy Pennsylvania truck stops along I-80 at three in the morning. I never set out to see the Painted Desert, the Sandia Crest or both the emergency room and police station in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. I still know what these things look like though, and it's because I got in a car instead of taking a plane.

My life has been enriched in ways that wouldn't be possible without the road trip, as it led me to know what frybread tastes like in Gallup, New Mexico and that you can get a steak in Shamrock, Texas which tastes better than the ones in expensive Manhattan steakhouses. A road trip is also a bonding experience like no other. I'm far closer to the guys who came with me along I-80 to New York than I could have been without the trip. The same is true of the beautiful Brazilian girl who traveled with me in Europe and even the friend whose car I "borrowed" and took to Columbus while he sat in jail in Mt. Gilead.

My big fear for the future of the automotive industry is what will happen to road trips. A car that needs to stop and charge for several hours every 100 miles simply won't work for any trip that's worth taking, and the fact that decisions about the future of the automobile are being made by people who think cars need only get us to work and back scares the hell out of me. Without range we lose a part of our freedom which those who aren't car people could never understand. It is depressing to think what life would be like without it.

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