Sensors and Systems
Breaking News
Arctic Shifts to a Carbon Source due to Winter Soil Emissions
Rating12345A NASA-funded study suggests winter carbon emissions in the...
Terrafirma adopts Bluesky National Tree Map to support Hazard Assessment for Home Buyers
Rating12345Terrafirma, an expert provider of hazard models, GeoData and...
Fleet Xpress agreement marks new stage in Bourbon digitalisation strategy for offshore
Rating12345Bourbon, a world leader in marine services for offshore...
  • Rating12345

The classic American summer road trip entails long hours of roadside observation, with stops at cultural landmarks, parks and the occasional kitschy roadside attraction. The family-oriented tour offers some enduring geographic lessons, with the chance to create memories and connections to an expansive land.

PerspectivesWebHeader

The classic American summer road trip entails long hours of roadside observation, with stops at cultural landmarks, parks and the occasional kitschy roadside attraction. The family-oriented tour offers some enduring geographic lessons, with the chance to create memories and connections to an expansive land.

Discovering Diversity

Despite the big box and fast food sameness that has overtaken America and many parts of the world, there are always interesting local flavors and oddities to be found. Each new discovery gets amplified by the homogeneity that is the result of globalization, making local uniqueness a special part of the journey.

Food provides one of the most interesting local connections, and smells are a great way to lock in memories. There are some regional themes that continue to endure, with seaside taffy pulls of the eastern shore, southern sweet teas and barbecue, midwestern corn and produce abundance or western chuck wagon fare. There are always some interesting new flavors to find in grocery stores and local restaurants, with many of the flavors telling a story of a region’s immigrant past.

Changing Navigation

Today’s GPS devices take away much of the map-centric nature of the trip, with less need to grab the state map at the rest area as you cross the state line. The copilot seat takes on less importance without the folding and unfolding of the maps and deciphering of directions. Simply plugging in an address or attraction takes away a great deal of stress and strife between the cars occupants, and it’s also much easier to precisely answer the inevitable requests of “how long until we get there.”

Local maps are still a great help to pinpoint attractions and businesses of interest. The locally-produced map products provide a window into a town’s tourism commerce, and either allow you to hit all the hot spots or give you the ability to avoid the tourist traps.

Wandering and exploring the local scene offers an opportunity to get turned around and lost, but GPS devices offer a foundation of security that won’t allow uncertainty to turn into all-out panic. Getting lost can foster good memories, and new discoveries.

While GPS devices ground us to the street network, it’s still worthwhile to seek out a local’s perspective to be sure that you haven’t missed something worthwhile. It’s a fun exercise to think about the “what if we lived here” scenarios. Finding the local breakfast place, schools, library, courthouse, and other gathering spots gives a good sense of the community.

Themes of History

With school out for summer, it’s nice to throw in a little education that might tie in a future book lesson to a location. History is the most likely subject to make that connection, and there are ample opportunities to visit sites of historic significance. While looking at history, it’s interesting to ask the how and why questions from a geographic perspective.

Favorite stops include Civil War battle sites, the waypoints and routes that connect to the country’s pioneer spirit, and the birth places of presidents. Looking at humble origins is a great tie-in to the American can-do spirit, with the achievement of great things within everyone’s grasp. As we explore history, it’s intriguing to think of nation building from a resource and transportation perspective.

Music is another interesting theme to explore. The roots of rock and roll offer a number of interesting waypoints with a more modern tone. Musical tie-ins can fuel a road trip soundtrack to further solidify memories. Exploring the origins of music can also provide interesting insights into the country’s melting pot past.

It’s fun to compare past summer travels to the current state of things, and it’s not hard to find lasting parallel experiences today. The summer road trip endures as a lasting rite of passage, and lower gas prices makes it more achievable this year than last, despite the down economy. See you on the road.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *