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
DRINK UP, STRETCH OUT: “I like to drink water and Gatorade while driving [to stay] well hydrated. And every two or three hours, pull over, get out, walk around and stretch.”
CHEW IT OVER: “While you’re in the seat, chewing sugarless gum will help you feel more alert — it causes increased blood circulation to the face. An old tour-bus driver told me that, and it really does work!”
STAY SHARP: “Be well rested, have a clear mind and pay attention to your surroundings. And keep your cool when (when, not if) another motorist drives poorly.”
STOP FOR A BITE: “I like Sierra Sid’s in Sparks, Nev. They have a big parking lot, the food is good, there is very cool memorabilia on display, the best truck stop showers I’ve ever used, and there’s a casino too.”
DON’T MULTITASK: “I once saw a guy in Austin, Texas, playing a mandolin — with both hands — while driving during evening rush hour.”
*His CB handle.
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“I WANNA BE FREE,” LORETTA LYNN
Lynn was preaching gleeful feminine independence long before “girl power” became a marketing meme, and “I Wanna Be Free” (“I released my heart, my soul and my mind / And I’m a-feelin’ fine!”) is exactly the sort of giddy, everything-is-possible anthem you want shaking the speakers when you put the top down for the first time.
“WHEELS,” THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS
I’m a sucker for just about anything involving Gram Parsons — I subjected Sam to at least a few consecutive hours of Parsons-related country rock (strengthened, I like to think, by several of my own invented harmonies). And “Wheels” is Parsons’ untouchable testament to the transformative power of the road (“Come on, wheels, take this boy away”).
“FREE FALLIN’,” TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS
A clichéd pick, perhaps, but arguably the single greatest driving song ever committed to tape. Go ahead and try not punching the steering wheel when the drums kick in after the first verse. Just don’t overdo it.
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ROAD MAP: If you’re doing this right, you’ll find yourself in a place where the GPS doesn’t work. Pick up a map.
COFFEE AND BEEF JERKY: Only Shell’s finest.
IPHONE: Mix CDs last only an hour. Get over your nostalgia and load this up.
BOBBLEHEAD HULA GIRL: It’s a serious car, but it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.