Today’s subject is: roadtrips. I love roadtrips. I believe this began in roughly 1994, when my family took our very first roadtrip in my mother’s stick-shift Isuzu Rodeo. We travelled from Denver to Mount Rushmore, which is a large granite sculpture carefully designed to give South Dakota something to put on its license plates.
As I recall, that roadtrip involved three stages. The first was packing the car. My mother did an expert job with this, carefully arranging every item, which included approximately 20 percent luggage and 80 percent roadtrip snacks. Stage two was plotting the course and getting on the road, with me and my brother belted in the back seat. Of course, these were the days before children could be distracted by in-car video games and DVD players and iPads, which meant that the third stage began just nine miles from our house, when my dad turned to my mom and asked: Is it too late to fly there instead?
Roadtrips are fairly common when you have children. That’s largely due to the cost of flights for an entire family, but also because it’s way less embarrassing when your kid has a violent temper tantrum in the minivan than on a nonstop flight to Phoenix.
But as we get older, we tend to leave behind the roadtrip in favor of powered flight, which is highly quicker than travelling by car, and only slightly more cramped. I think that’s a shame. Twenty years after my first roadtrip, I still love the concept. The wind in your hair. The road stretching for miles. The ability to go somewhere with a tube of toothpaste larger than three ounces. It’s bliss, all of it.
And that’s why I’m taking the CTS-V Wagon from Atlanta to California and back.
Now, this won’t surprise regular readers (a group that can be precisely defined as: “my mother”). Regular readers know I take all sorts of wacky roadtrips, like the time I drove across the country in my Lotus while thinking: Who knew highway expansion joints could feel so much like getting hit in the face with a salad bowl?
Regular readers also won’t be surprised by the roadtrip because you, Jalopnik, suggested it. It was a few weeks back, right after I bought the V Wagon, when I asked for your thoughts on what to do with it. Several popular suggestions were carefully considered but ultimately dismissed (such as: “Take the automatic transmission and shove it up your ass!”). But the most popular suggestion – “Take a roadtrip!” – has led us here.
What may surprise you is the length of this particular trip. Atlanta to California and back. Across the country … twice.
And if I’m honest, it surprises me too. All winter, I had planned on two summer trips: one by plane to visit the Pebble Beach car events, and the other by car through New England with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, the dates coincided, which we would choose the New England roadtrip over Pebble Beach. But as we sat down to plan the New England trip, she looked at me and said: “Why don’t we just take our roadtrip to Pebble Beach instead?”
Clearly, she’s a keeper.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re leaving Friday, and we’re driving west. And west, and west, and west, and more west, and then so far west that we will reach an area of the country where it is not acceptable to fly a Rebel Flag from your pickup truck. (Also known as: “Beyond Arkansas.”) We'll find our way into 17 states and cover around 5,800 miles. And we'll visit places like the Bonneville Salt Flats, which I will drive on, enjoy immensely, and casually neglect to mention to prospective buyers when it’s time to sell the car.
How will I keep you updated? Well, I suggest following me on Twitter, where I plan to post a lot of trip photos. That’s something I never thought I’d say, largely because I used to think that Twitter was just for celebrities and PR people. But now that I’ve joined up, I’ve realized it’s actually for celebrities, PR people, and 12-year-old girls. This is the only way I can rationalize the fact that Justin Bieber has, at this moment, roughly 42.6 million more followers than me, each of whom Tweet him things like: JUSTIN!!! #BELIEVE!!! If YoU rEpLy tO tHiS tWeEt I will shave your name into my HAIR!!!!
So there’s Twitter. I also plan to post lots of photos on my website, Plays With Cars. And, of course, I’ll write updates here whenever I can. Unfortunately, this may not be as often as I’d like, largely because most of my hotels are called things like “American Highway Roadside Inn,” (Motto: If you were any closer to the highway, you’d be sleeping in your car!) which likely means that their concept of “wireless” involves that cordless phone they once owned until one of the pigs chewed it up.
So let the roadtrip begin. On Friday, anyway. Today, a slow leak means I have to go to the Cadillac dealer and get a new tire. It won’t be cheap, but it’s better than having a blowout at the Salt Flats. Not that I’m going there, or anything.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He operates PlaysWithCars.com and writes for The Truth About Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.