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The Rules of the Road

The road trip is as much a voyage of self-discovery as it is a physical journey. The traveler need do no more than turn the key in the ignition, shift gears and head out into the great unknown ... pausing only to execute a six-point turn on a suburban dead-end street while mopping up lap-scalding coffee and shouting, “You’re the one with the map!” Alternatively, you could do a little prep. To this end, we gave our intrepid correspondent Sam Polcer a Corvette, a map of Route 1 (Massachusetts to Maine) and a mandate to write down all the things that make a road trip work.

Author SAM POLCER Photography SAM POLCER

RULE NO. 1: GET THE BASICS RIGHT

The most critical parts of any road trip are also the most obvious: co-pilot, route, car. I suspected I’d made a good choice on the first requisite with Amanda, an old high school buddy, the moment she eagerly tucked into a tray of local delicacies while bantering with the waitstaff at a Maine roadside eatery named Flo’s. My wisdom was confirmed later, as we strolled road-weary along a rocky beach by our motel, and she conjured a bottle of Bulleit Rye from her bag.

As for the drive itself, we had decided on Route 1, from Boston up through Maine, ending in gorgeous Acadia National Park. Early on in the journey, around the town of Topsfield, Mass., the asphalt narrowed to two lanes and the blur of trees gave way to a procession of kitschy motels, age-old diners and adorable antiques shops. It was here, I think, that we realized the drive would not be about getting anywhere fast.

It might seem a little odd, then, that we’d opted to take our trip in a 2012 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport Centennial Edition, perhaps not the obvious vehicle for some New England pottering. But then, it is a ‘Vette, the epitome of the American muscle car. Better yet, the Centennial is a convertible that comes in just one color: black. What else would we go in?

The instant a road trip begins, the clichés start piling up: Amanda’s hair whipping in the wind, the pair of us cruising the oldest East Coast highway toward a state that bills itself as “Vacationland,” old friends escaping the city for a spell, reminiscing and sharing our current problems over endless cups of bad gas-station coffee. As I look back on it now, the trip unfolded like a movie montage, set to a compilation of songs with the word “free” in them.

Rather than bucking the clichés, we decided to play along. We munched lobster rolls at roadside shacks, stopped to ogle pretty little farms, chatted with no-nonsense waitresses, got strangers to take our picture at lighthouses. We sang along to every corny song we knew. Finally, as we neared our destination, we pulled onto the highway for a while, just to see how the ‘Vette performed in top gear.

We kind of had to, didn’t we?

One Response to “The Rules of the Road”

  1. Abby Mundro Says:
    August 17th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    My mom sent me this article as I am about to take a trip from Pennsylvania to California with my friend and it was so perfect! Just what I needed. I’m leaving in two days! Great article

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