Drive She Said

Over the past 10 years, I’ve made a concentrated effort to explore the good old USA. But that wasn’t always my mindset. Truth be told, after 25 years of thinking that I hadn’t really traveled unless I’d gotten my passport stamped, I came to the realization that the US has just as many off-the-beaten-path attractions, unique regional foods and colorful characters as just about any overseas destination.

Of course I didn’t realize that until I actually took my first domestic first road trip. And although that first one was just a short fly-drive package, it took me out of the big city and landed me squarely in the heart of rural America. And I loved every minute of it. The pace was relaxing, the itinerary was flexible and boy howdy did I ever meet some interesting characters. And aside from the flight delays, crappy airline food, TSA gropings and outrageous rental car surcharges, Charles liked these fly-drive road trips as well. So we started taking more of them. And I wrote about them in <em>Emerging Horizons</em> and in my other outlets.

And then a funny thing happened. Readers starting writing me and telling me that they liked my road trip articles and they wanted to read more of them. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my new found fondness for road trips. So I decided to take the next logical step, and remove the flights from our next fly-drive package; and make it a true road trip, from start to finish.

And now I’m totally hooked; in fact, I’m the total road trip junkie. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I never fly these days; it’s just that I do it grudgingly, and only when I absolutely have to. But deep in my heart, I’m happiest when I’m cruising down the open road.

Somewhere along the way we also learned how to plan longer road trips, so it’s not unusual for us to be gone for a month or so at a time. As an added bonus, we don’t have to deal with airline delays and rental car lines; so there’s less time wasted time in our driving itineraries. Truth be told, it’s a very efficient way to travel.

Road trips are also a particularly attractive option for wheelchair-users and slow walkers, for a number of reasons.

  • You can pack along all the equipment you need.
  • You can take a restroom break whenever you need it.
  • You can alter your itinerary if you’re having a bad day.
  • You don’t have to worry about the airlines damaging your wheelchair.
  • You’ll always have accessible transportation.
  • You don’t have to buy an extra air ticket for your attendant.
  • You can take things at your own pace.

And at the risk of sounding like an ethnocentric alarmist, I also have to add that I just feel I have more control when I’m exploring my own country. After all, Charles and I were stuck in London for an additional two weeks, after the World Trade Center disaster. Granted if we had to be stranded somewhere, London wasn’t a bad pick; but it wasn’t home either. Again, it’s not that I’m giving up foreign travel; in fact I’m looking forward to exploring New Zealand’s South Island later this year. It’s just that I’m really enjoying my domestic trips.

And I wrote this book, so you can do the same. Not that it’s a hard and fast guide, but it will give you the resources, information and tools to plan your own road trips. Each chapter contains a loop route, which can easily be driven in two or three weeks; in addition to the following information to help you customize your trip.

Along the Way
Major stops or highlights along the route, including accessible lodging suggestions.
When to go, and when to avoid each route; including information about winter road closures, traffic jams during peak season and other seasonal delays.
Great Eats
A unique accessible restaurant or two along the route. Not necessarily fine dining, but definitely memorable.
Don’t Miss It
A special event or festival, quirky roadside attraction or just a certain day to visit a specific place.
Linger on in the Gateway
Things to do in the gateway city for an extended stay, before or after the road trip.
Fly-Drive Option
Gateway airport and accessible rental van information for folks who want to do the trip as a fly-drive option.
Alternate Entry Points
Alternate starting points along the loop.
Variation on a Theme
Ideas to customize the route, make it a longer trip, combine two routes together or even do day trips from the gateway city.
If You Go
CVBs, access guides and other resources to help you plan your trip.

And of course, like in all my other books, I’ve included meaningful access information, so you can make the best choices for your abilities. And last but not least, there’s also a chapter with general tips, resources and road trip planning tools. All in all, it’s a pretty comprehensive resource.

Additionally, since access changes over time, I’ve dedicated a portion of my book website to these changes. So surf on by for access updates, before you hit the road.

They key thing about this book is that it allows for a maximum of flexibility. You can do it your way. So use this book as a guide and a resource, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box and customize your trip to meet your individual tastes, time frame, access needs and budget. After all it’s your road trip, not mine. And drop me a note and let me know how it all went. Hopefully you’ll end up just like me — totally hooked on road trips.

Candy Harrington
PO Box 278
Ripon, CA 95366

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