A quick programming note.

For the next month I'm going to be living out of a rental car on a long road trip across the country hopefully ending as near to the Arctic Ocean as someone who doesn't work in the oil industry can get. Technically I guess it will end when I return to Central Illinois, but for the moment let's pretend that I will be eaten by a bear, shanghaied by pirates, or crushed by a falling piece of Skylab since all of those will most likely seem more appealing once I reach my destination.

I'm violating the internet rule against announcing vacations (and thereby alerting ne'er-do-wells to the dates on which your home will be unoccupied) because I have secured a house-sitter. Besides, there is little worth stealing in the soon to be foreclosed home I rent and the modal burglar in this city lacks internet access.

Though I stand firmly against the proliferation of overwhelmingly redundant social media sites, to supply family and friends with Visual Evidence of Experiences I have created an Instagram account. You may follow it if you want to see pictures of Nature and most likely the Sounds of Real America.


As I will be sleeping outdoors and doing a vast quantity of driving, it is likely that my internet access and time for writing will be reduced over the next few weeks. That is just a guess; honestly I have no idea how frequently I will be able to or will want to write something here. Logistically it is more difficult to post On the Road, but I also happen to do some of my best thinking during 12-hour drives. So ideally the posting will continue at close to the current pace.

I have conflicting feelings about this. Obviously I'm looking forward to doing it but I have a tremendous amount of pressure on me at the moment to churn out more publications, so it is really hard for me to 1) not work, and 2) not think about work when not working. Ultimately I decided that staying here would reduce my productivity and negate the benefits of spending more time in the office; in the next month I'm hopeful that if the amount of time I spend glued to the screen is reduced, the quality of it will rise.

In any case, I'll update my progress as I go. I don't have a schedule or agenda except in the loosest sense, but hopefully a grand time will be had by all and I will be allowed into Canada without incident.

39 thoughts on “NPF: GRAND TOUR”

  • If anyone deserves to take a breather while seeing America, it's you.

    Blast some Run The Jewels in North Dakota, they need it more than most.

    Good luck on the road. Get your kicks.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    Tell your department that you're doing fieldwork on the impact of rural poverty on voting preferences. And make sure you keep your receipts so you can deduct everything!

  • Bon Voyage! Canada is big, their gas is expensive, but some day you won't regret it. See the Rockies and eat trout is what I'd recommend. Sell the car in Alaska and take a ferry back. Have a great time. We'll be here when you get back.

  • Have a great trip!

    I've always wanted to drive cross-country, especially in the west and northwest. I've done NY to Chicago, but we drove mostly at night.

    I did the Amtrak NYC-Chicago-LA-San Jose for Netroots Nation and got a lot of thinking done. And very relaxing.

    Bon Voyage.

  • Hopefully you will be allowed back to the US without incident.

    Or hopefully detained.


  • Doesn't this site count as 'publishing'? If not, tell them to try it for a few years…

    Have fun. try to forget us for a while. be in the moment…

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    I once rode Greyhound from Atlanta to Portland, and I still prefer to drive 2000 miles from Los Angeles to Chicago, because I *love* to get out of the damned house for a bit.

    Whenever I write en route, I always reread it with particular fondness.

    Whether or not yo record your no doubt patriotic observations of our grand Flying J-dotted landscape, I hope you enjoy the trip.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    Ah, geez. Be careful about mobile posting if you keep accidentally using "Paste." That should just be "you," natch.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    The quality on your blog is outstanding!

    I wish you, Bon Voyage!
    We all love you, and we'll miss you.
    Have a safe and outstanding trip!

  • basement cat says:

    The one and only time I drove a car into Canada, the border guard asked us if we had any firearms and if we had more than 24 beers. Because we had no guns and were under the 24 beer threshold, everything was cool. For what that's worth.

  • Basement cat: something tells me that the border guard would have been cool with the over 24 beers–just as long as no firearm was involved.

    Ed: Have a blast! I am jealous–I would love a road trip such as you are doing. Remember this, though: if you stop having fun for whatever reason, it is absolutely okay to abort the remainder of the trip. You'll be able to find lots of free wifi in places you'd never expect, too. So we'll look forward to the occasional post with your wry and perceptive observations.

  • Go Shopping

    Roy Rogers – Dale Evans Museum
    Lyrics to "Happy Trails" by Dale Evans Rogers
    Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
    Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
    Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
    Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.
    Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

    Some trails are happy ones,
    Others are blue.
    It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
    Here's a happy one for you.

    Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
    Happy trails to you, keep smilin' until then.
    Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
    Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather.

    Happy trails to you, 'till we meet again.

    Alternate Religious Verse:

    Happy trails to you, it's great to say "hello".
    And to share with you the trail we've come to know.
    It started on the day that we met Jesus,
    He came into our hearts and then he freed us.
    For a life that's true, a happy trail to you.

    Roy Rogers Riders Club Rules:

    1. Be neat and clean.
    2. Be courteous and polite.
    3. Always obey your parents.
    4. Protect the weak and help them.
    5. Be brave but never take chances.
    6. Study hard and learn all you can.
    7. Be kind to animals and take care of them.
    8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
    9. Love God and go to Sunday school regularly.
    10. Always respect our flag and our country.

  • Have a great trip. Nothing like a long solo drive to get some serious thinking done. I've never had a desire to Instagram, but may have to change that. Thanks for all the work you put in to G&T.

  • Ed,
    Good travels.

    If you need anything along the way, drop a note here. I think you have fans every 200-300 miles along your route :)


  • The only question on my mind is…


    (Please do, it's a magical land.)

    My favorite truck stop is Love's because they have the most ridiculous post cards. It's the only place where I've seen (or at least noticed) post cards for "The United States of America".

  • I hear that the "world renowned ARS Microbial Culture Collection" at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research would be a highlight of any long road trip. Be sure to experience the nearby city.

    If, having visited the "world renowned ARS Microbial Culture Collection," you somehow decide to continue on your trip, I also hear that Head-Smashed-In is worth experiencing.

    One more recommendation: under no circumstances should you drive in Florida. If, for some reason you do think driving in Florida is a good idea, you may want to check to see if your head is already smashed in.

    A Floriduh Driver's Guide

    Driving While Stupid

    Bad Driving: It's not just for old people

  • I just drove from Portland to San Diego and back and, though we passed through some truly beautiful sites, it reaffirmed for me how much I do not enjoy driving. But to those who do, I say, do it up. If you have any gin and taconian meetups planned in my neck of the woods (ha ha, literally), do let us know. You probably have a pretty good selection of fans here.

  • Keep right on the way back down and head through BC toward OsoyoosDon't miss visiting a couple of the 5,000 wineries. A couple of cases can only help facing going back to Peoria, right?

  • Apocryphal story from Gore Vidal – a friend of his who routinely traveled between LA and NYC by plane decided to drive all the way. Upon seeing Vidal in New York, his first words were, "My God, Gore, there are so MANY of them!"

    I hope you have a happier trip. If things get waxy, just remember, you could be at the office.

  • I'm not sure about your trip plan but if you make it to sfbay, and you aren't allergic to dogs or an elderly arthritic cat, I have a spare bedroom in the peninsula you can crash in for a couple days.

  • Gods bless you my blogger… my your tank never be empty and your heart always be full…

  • Try to avoid national parks. They are overrun with visitors, many international, that really detract from the experience, unless you can hike in the back country, which of course you can't do unless you backpack.

  • DWhite, totally disagree. Some of them have a lot of visitors, sure, but a) not all of them are crowded and b) even in the ones that are crowded, you lose 90% of the crowd if you're willing to get more than 500 yards from your vehicle or go at non-peak times. Zion, for instance, is probably the most crowded of the five parks in Utah–it's got shuttle service, a lodge, lots of name recognition, etc. But I went last summer to hike Angel's Landing and the Narrows; got up at 4ish AM and started up the canyon, got to Angel's Landing by sunrise, and the only other person up there was one quiet guy with a camera. Hiked the Narrows later in the day, and the first mile or so was pretty crowded, but once you get to the point where you're clambering over big rocks and legitimately hiking, the crowds thin out pretty quickly. Likewise, I did Bryce Canyon a couple weeks ago; the weather wasn't great and I did the Peekaboo Loop, which is not a horrendously difficult hike but is definitely on the strenuous side, especially in the rain, and my buddy and I only ran into a dozen or so other people in the 5-6 mile hike.

    tl;dr: Yes, national parks can be crowded, but they have some of the world's most amazing scenery. Go early and late, go on days when the weather is bad, and take hikes that children, old people, and the obese would have a hard time with. Don't miss out just because people suck.

    Also, if you come through Salt Lake City, I'll buy you a beer.

  • Morley Bolero says:

    Leave your six shooter at home and you'll get into Canuckistan with no problem. On the return trip, make sure to ditch all your KinderEgg Surprise candy before hitting the US border. I wish i was joking about that.

  • You might be aware already, but there's been a lot of flooding on Alaska's north slope. The only road from Fairbanks that travels north of the Yukon River has been washed out for a week or more:
    While they expect to get it fixed soon, there's just been more rain up there and are expecting snow next week, so it's all problematic. But even if you don't get to drive to the arctic ocean, it's still worth a trip up here to see Alaska.

  • Ed, if you drive through Nanjing…(oh, wait…no bridge….nevermind)

    Basementcat – why would anyone bring beer INTO Canada?

    Robert – so many states or people? I'm thinking it's gotta be states, because, having traversed the US many many times, there are miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. (Not my quote, obviously)

    Anyway, remember….good experiences make for good traveling, bad experiences make for good telling. (That one IS mine, as far as I know.)

  • Skepticalist says:

    You deserve a short break from blogging. I know it can wear you out a bit. Just not too big a break.

    Oh, let us know what Russia looks like. Sara never posts pictures.

  • Please say you've opted for something more substantial than the Geo Metro.
    Sorry Ed, but you being a city boy I cannot seeing you being very handy with only a pair of pliers and a length of twitching wire.
    Might I suggest getting a UHF radio. Even a cheap one can be a life saver in mountainous terrain.

    Good speed you. Might have to open an Instagram myself now.

    April: The Australian term is GAFA. Great Areas of F-All.

  • Be safe, have fun. Hope it's interesting enough you'll be able to write a book, if you want to.

  • have a great time Ed! and if you find yourself on the road from Atlanta, GA heading toward Memphis, TN be sure to stop in Anniston, Alabama and have a meal at Betty's Bar-B-Q. The people are very friendly and the food is fantastic! And as always in the South, SAVE ROOM FOR PIE!

  • Everyone out of the park now?

    Yeah, mon. Back in post Kerouac days drove my 67 VW bug personally overhauled with bored cylinders hemi pistons oversized rings and a racing cam from SE Idaho to Boston and honest to god slept in an Iowa cornfield and and and, could tell muchos road stories beyond. Look forward to hearing yours. And, btw, that bug cruised no strain across the States at a steady 70.

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