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
Fat Boy Drive-In in Brunswick, Maine, may be known as a mecca for onion rings, but to you it’s the place where you left your shades. So, by necessity, you go in search of a replacement. The most important attribute for any good pair of driving sunglasses—besides making you look as broodingly hip as Ryan Gosling in Drive—is that they allow you to see where you’re going. To cut the glare while maintaining Gosling-esque panache, go with the unisex Cayton (above, inset) from Mosley Tribes, Oliver Peoples’ active-lifestyles offshoot, with VFX polarized lenses and antiqued-gold frames. $220, mosleytribes.com
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Dempster Highway, Canada
You’re not going to get a lot of variety on the Dempster Highway. The road starts in Dawson City, in the Yukon, and terminates 450 miles later in Inuvik, way inside the Arctic Circle. What you’ll see en route is wilderness—sometimes flat, sometimes not—and snow. A journey for hardy types eager to get in touch with their inner Inuit. WHAT TO DRIVE: Subaru Outback Appalachian Trail, U.S.
Pan-American Highway, Peru
You wouldn’t want to drive the whole continent-spanning thing, but the Pan- American Highway from Lima to Arequipa is doable. The road traces Peru’s Pacific coast, packing a ton of spectacle into 623 miles: Incan ruins, volcanoes, UFO landing sites, oases, gift shops. Try to avoid the alpacas, which tend to congregate in the middle of the road. WHAT TO DRIVE: Jeep Wrangler
The Silk Road, Europe and Asia
Winding from Venice to Beijing, this one represents a serious undertaking. The ancient trading route runs for 12,500 miles through 12 countries, with rugged terrain and exotic political systems, requiring even the hardiest travelers to seek help. The standard duration of a self-drive tour is 80 days, and it doesn’t come cheap—but the things you will see! WHAT TO DRIVE: Hummer H3T
Great River Road, U.S.
Fixed in the American popular imagination, the Mississippi is as rich in cultural significance as it is in mud. Apart from hopping a barge, the best way to follow its 2,350-mile journey is via the Great River Road. The trip can be gritty (you’re often as likely to see a smokestack as a sycamore), but that’s part of the poetry. WHAT TO DRIVE: Dodge Challenger Yellow Jacket
Romantic Road, Germany
The world’s most aptly named stretch of blacktop, the Romantic Road starts at the ancient shambles of Würzburg and weaves for 220 miles alongside fairy-tale castles and sloping meadows, concluding at the mist-shrouded Bavarian Alps. The only downside? By the end, trippers tend to start quoting Goethe. WHAT TO DRIVE: 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Coupe
Route 101, Oregon
While often overshadowed by its Northern California stretch, the Pacific Coast Highway’s 350-mile squiggle through Oregon is an equally good bet for hairpin turns and sublime vistas. The route bristles with coves, crags and looming pines, interspersed with wineries whose proprietors have worn the same pair of sandals for 20 years. WHAT TO DRIVE: Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
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5%…………..OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CAR
1%…………..PERSONALIZED MAINE LICENSE PLATES
1%…………..REVERENCE FOR THE CAR
1%…………..ASKING “WHAT SONG IS THIS?”