Hit the Road
I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. -Robert Louis Stevenson
Mr. Stevenson expressed the sentiment that many of us feel when planning a road trip. We don’t need a specific destination, or even a detailed itinerary. We can head out in our car, RV, or motorcycle to explore a new route, discover a small town, and have the freedom to pull over when we want to try a quirky roadside restaurant or take a photo of a scenic vista. A road trip offers the kind of freedom that simply isn’t possible on a jet-setting vacation.
If you’re planning to hit the open road this season, the following traveler-tested tips might be useful as you map out your route.
Planning Your Path
Researching, planning for, and anticipating your journey are all part of the fun of the road trip experience. If you’re looking for some guidance, there are countless online resources that will not only tell you where to go – but also when to go, where to eat, what you can expect to see along the way, and how to make your travel as comfortable as possible. Search for “road trip ideas” on Pinterest.com, for example, and you’ll find recommendations for the top road trip apps, the ultimate road trip play list, an organized car checklist, and much more. RoadTrippers.com is another great resource for planning the best (and most fun and fulfilling) way to get from point A to point Z.
Connecting with fellow fans of the open road can also inspire you to plan out a new path or to map out a destination that you hadn’t previously considered. If you are a current Trilogy Member, visit the online Club Directory at your community (under the “Clubs” tab on MyTrilogyLife.com) and consider attending a meeting of a car, motorcycle, RV, or general travel club to connect with neighbors who share your wanderlust. Below are just a few examples of currently active Trilogy clubs.
- RV Club of Trilogy at Tehaleh
- Travel Talk Club of Trilogy at Tehaleh
- Roadrunners Car Club of Trilogy at Vistancia
- Motorcycle Club of Trilogy at Vistancia
- Encanterra RV’ers of Encanterra Country Club
- Motorcycle Club of Trilogy at Rio Vista
- RV Roamers of Trilogy at Rio Vista
- “Bikers of Trilogy” Motorcycle Club of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
- RV Club of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
- Travel Club of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
If you know you want to hit the road, but aren’t sure which route to take, check out the following links for some road trip inspiration.
- Enjoy spectacular views of California’s coastline on California State Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway.
- Get your kicks on Route 66, the historic road that winds 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.
- Experience a true “Rocky Mountain High” when you travel along Trail Ridge Road in Colorado.
- Taste the unique flavor of Maine, with its rocky coasts and quaint fishing villages, when you follow the Acadia Byway.
- Explore South Florida along US1, beginning in Fort Lauderdale and ending with a picturesque ride through the Florida Keys on the Overseas Highway.
Making the Most of Your Miles
Fluctuating rates at the pump shouldn’t get in the way of your road trip travel plans. Try these eight gas-saving tips to get the most mileage out of your trip.
- Have a pre-trip tune-up. Before you hit the road, stop at the mechanic and make sure that your engine is running efficiently. Replacing air and fuel filters at recommended intervals will improve efficiency and boost mileage.
- Know where you’re going. A GPS device (conveniently located in your smart phone) is a great gas-saver, not only because getting lost is a waste of gas, but also because not all routes are created equal. Open an app like Waze, MapQuest, or Google Maps to calculate the shortest route to your destination (not all have the ability to do this – but most do) to save a few dollars at the pump.
- Inflate your tires. Make sure that your tires are at the manufacturer-recommended PSI to reduce road drag caused by under-inflation. This simple step can reduce your mileage by up to two percent per pound of pressure – and it’s a very low-cost fix.
- Lighten your load. Some of us thrive on the packing challenge of filling every square inch of the car with our worldly goods. However, the less weight your car has to carry, the more mileage it will gain. Try to pack light, and whenever possible, store your stuff inside the car – not on the roof where it will quickly drag down your mileage per gallon.
- Watch your speed. When you’re on the highway, drive the speed limit – or even a couple of miles below it. Lightening your lead foot (maintaining a maximum speed of 55 miles per hour) can raise your mileage per gallon by five percent.
- Cruise along. Whenever you’re on an open road, and traffic, weather, and road conditions allow it, turn on the cruise control. Automatically controlling your speed is much more gas efficient than trying to maintain a constant speed manually.
- Cool down strategically. If you’re using air conditioning, slightly crack the windows of your car. Allowing hot air to escape will help your car to cool down more efficiently. Press the re-circulation button so that your car doesn’t have to constantly suck in and cool new hot air, and you’ll reduce your fuel needs.
Creature Comforts in Your Car
When it comes to a road trip, there can be as much enjoyment in the journey as there is in arriving at the destination. Get the most joy from your highway and byway adventure with the following road-tested tips.
- Be sure to pack the basics for highway safety in your trunk. This must-have list should include a tire iron, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, reflectors/flares, and plenty of bottled water.
- Have a good selection of your favorite tunes either on CD or on your phone/tablet/mp3 player, as the radio selection may get sparse in certain parts of the country. Audio books also add pleasure to a long trip. By the time you cross a state line, you’ll have “read” a new bestseller or a classic piece of literature.
- Keep the essentials within arm’s reach. A sturdy bag kept within comfortable reach of the front seat should be packed with such items as road maps (in case your phone is out of range and you can’t access online maps), sunglasses, tissues, handy-wipes, and gum or hard candy.
- Wear layers and plan for major changes in weather, which are always possible when you’re covering long distances in the car. When the sun is beating down on the windshield, a t-shirt might feel comfortable, while a cold wind and rain can have you reaching for a sweatshirt in the evening. In case of car trouble during a storm, you’ll want to have blankets for extra warmth until help arrives.
- To avoid frequent stops at roadside cafes or gas station convenience stores, pack plenty of snacks that are convenient for the car. Trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, and granola is a tasty and energy-filled snack. Hard cheeses and hard-boiled eggs are protein-packed snacks that are easy to eat in an auto. Cut veggies like carrots and celery sticks can be dipped in peanut butter (if you’re sitting in the passenger seat) without making too much of a mess. Ginger snaps are a crunchy treat that will come in handy in the event of car queasiness.
Part of the fun of a cross-country road trip is stumbling upon the unique, historic, often quirky attractions that pop up along the trail. Many of these are hard to miss, as “larger than life” is a popular theme with roadside Americana. You’ll be glad you stopped to stretch your legs and take a photo or two at the following roadside attractions, listed from west to east coast.
If you’re passing through Baker, California, you can’t possibly miss the world’s tallest thermometer. Standing at 134 feet tall, this landmark pays tribute to the hottest temperature ever recorded in North America (134 degrees Fahrenheit), on the floor of nearby Death Valley. Now that’s a hot photo op!
Nothing says Idaho like the world’s largest potato chip. Of course, there’s a lot more to Idaho than potatoes, but on the way to a favorite ski slope or fly-fishing spot, why not stop at the Idaho Potato Expo? This museum is filled with such spud-tastic treasures as a two-foot tall Pringle, potato hand lotion, and even a tater autographed by Dan Quayle, who famously misspelled “potato” years ago.
Fans of Fred and Wilma Flintstone won’t want to miss the world-famous Hole ‘N The Rock in Moab, Utah. In 1945, Albert Christensen began excavating 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone to create a one-of-a-kind home. Today, over 40,000 visitors stop by annually to see this 5,000 square-foot, 14-room house carved into a giant rock.
Palace décor typically consists of marble, crystal, and priceless oil paintings from centuries past. The décor at the Corn Palace in South Dakota consists of (you guessed it) corn – and lots of it! This remarkable piece of roadside architecture is refurbished annually during harvest time. Artists use thirteen different shades of corn kernels to create intricate murals, which follow a different theme each year. You’ll have a whole new appreciation for corn on the cob after this pit stop.
Forget flowers and chocolate. Hugh Davis, of Catoosa, Oklahoma, built an 80-foot cement whale as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife, Zelta. This land-locked sea mammal has now been watching the cars pass by on Route 66 for more than 30 years. Pull over and get a photo of your loved one lounging in the beached whale’s mammoth, walk-in mouth. Now that’s romantic!
If you get halfway through your road trip and are thinking, “There’s no place like home,” then it’s time to make a stop in Liberal, Kansas. Here, you can take a tour of Dorothy’s house, which has been carefully restored to match the tornado-tossed home featured in the fabulous motion picture, The Wizard of Oz. Just down the road – the yellow brick road, in fact – you’ll find a tribute to “The Land of Oz,” complete with life-sized dioramas of the movie set and an interesting collection of film memorabilia.
Having trouble fitting in five servings of vegetables daily? Well, there’s a 55-foot giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota, whose imposing stature might encourage you to make this more of a priority. In 1979, the Blue Earth Canning Company (now known as Green Giant) erected a statue of the iconic Jolly Green Giant to celebrate the town’s longtime affiliation with canning. His four-foot-wide smile can be seen from the intersection of I-90 and Highway 169.
If you find yourself on Route 159 in Collinsville, Illinois, you might have a sudden urge for a giant hot dog. Perhaps that’s because you’re driving past the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. The owners of Brook’s Old Original Tangy Catsup – once America’s best-selling catsup brand – built this 170-foot tall landmark (which is actually a painted water tower) in 1949, and today it’s a classic example of 20th century roadside Americana.
In 1897, to commemorate 100 years of statehood, the people of Tennessee could have dedicated a new state park or held a parade in honor of the day. Instead, they built a full-scale replica of the Parthenon just outside of downtown Nashville. This building houses Nashville’s art museum, as well as plaster casts of the Elgin marbles. Take a photo of yourself standing in front of the 42-foot statue of the goddess Athena, and your friends will wonder if your road trip turned into a European vacation.
A well-made basket can hold a delicious picnic lunch, a stack of library books – or even 500 employees! That’s right, the home office of the Longaberger Company is designed to resemble a 9,000-ton shopping basket. Visible from State Route 16, it stands seven stories high and has handles that weigh approximately 150 tons. You’re welcome to enter the building to admire the carefully crafted handles through the glass ceiling of a seven-story atrium.
Since 1881, Lucy the Elephant has stood tall – sixty-five feet tall, to be exact – through hurricanes, reconstruction, and the poking and prodding of hundreds of thousands of visitors in Margate, New Jersey. Originally built to draw developers to South Atlantic City, Lucy has become a historical preservation project for Atlantic City, and a beloved landmark for visitors of all ages.
Do you have a road trip tip or a favorite roadside stop to share? If so, feel free to add a comment below.