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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


All good road trips feature a few unpredictable moments, and the best way to go about finding these is by turning off onto a dirt road every so often. You might come across a quaint old farmhouse, or a field of fragrant wildflowers, or a local willing to brief you on the intricacies of lobster trapping — the point is, you never know.

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If you’re in a convertible, your first response to rain will be to shout, “The roof! The roof!” After the initial excitement dies down, you’ll spend a contented hour being mesmerized by the rhythmic back-and-forth of the wipers. When this gets old, linger over a cup of coffee in a roadside diner, or loiter for a while in someplace like the Musical Wonder House, a Maine museum devoted to antique music boxes.

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Before turning in for the night, find the place where the townsfolk go to unwind. Order a local brew, or something that allows you to use the word “neat.” Don’t be intimidated. Talk to people. Ask questions. Tell jokes. You can do all of these things at Novare Res Bier Café, hidden down an alley in Portland — provided you’re not paralyzed by the menu of 525-plus beers.

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No matter how much it may seem like an appropriate substitute for a couple of bucks, you should never try to tip a gas station attendant with beef jerky. Similarly, do not attempt to buy a stick of jerky with a credit card. In fact, unless you have some hard currency on your person, stay away from all heavily cured meat products.

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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