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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


The lure of the road

After I recounted a recent road trip in this spot two weeks ago, emails from readers supported my enthusiasm.  I’ve always touted a road trip as a freedom to cherish:  something that could feasibly become restricted or prohibited in the future.

From journeys with demanding deadlines to carefree stop-when-you-want trips — I treasure them all.  And I’m always glad to see that I’m not the only one with a penchant for combining a vehicle, driver, passenger(s), and an open road for the long haul.

Of course, the vehicle plays a vital role in that mix.  One of my personal favorites is our AWD Fusion that has 45,000 miles.  Over 35,000 of those miles consist of seven 5,000-mile runs to the Southeast and back.  For two people, that car offers an efficient mix of comfort, safety, handling, power and fuel mileage.

Whatever auto one embarks with, it becomes an ardent memory of the trip.  There’s little doubt about America’s love affair with automobiles — taking a long trip in one solidifies that link.  As reader R.I. wrote, “Thanks for rekindling my desire for a good old fashioned road trip, there is no way of getting from A to B that can compare to being behind the wheel of a particular car, which you have lust to drive!”

R.I. is no stranger to long trips, as he once took a 16,000-mile journey to “meander around America.”  Now, he is readying a Mazda Miata for his next trip:  a less impressive, but still substantial, 5000-miler.

He’s well aware of what it takes for dependable travel on today’s freeways.  As he puts it, “Which is why I am now preparing a recent automotive find for the extensive non-stop driving, which is required to cross America in the shortest possible time.”  In preparation,  R.I. reported, “On Sunday, with help from a friend, I installed a new timing belt, along with new oil seals, and a new water pump, and belts.”

Good luck and safe travels, R.I.!  Don’t forget a good set of tires.  Consistently, the preponderance of roadside trouble I witness during my trips involves tire problems.

Reader and road trip lover L.M. also sent a message summarizing her recent exploration of American roads.  Hers was a well-planned combination of forward progress mixed with sightseeing along the way.

L.M. undoubtedly created fond and lasting memories for herself and her niece as they journeyed to Arizona for the niece’s ASU college orientation.  Besides sharing time on the road for companionship and conversation, they managed to fit in visits to the Hoover Dam, Lake Havasu and the Grand Canyon.

Along the way, long trips always include miscellaneous happenings that stand out, such as when the vehicle in front of me near Modesto, CA had a tire blowout on the left front wheel.  Thankfully, I slowed when I heard the “pop” and, after a couple of scary swerves, that driver made his way safely to the right-hand shoulder.

L.M. relayed one of those standout occurrences, writing, “We did have a close call with a bicyclist in McCall, Idaho on the way home.  10:30 at night and very dark.  He comes out on the highway, on the wrong side of the road, no lights or anything and dark clothing.”  Those are the type of surprises that get your attention and stick in your memory.

L.M. is a seasoned traveler and her preparation covers obscure details.  In keeping, she offered a useful road trip tip, saying, “She [her niece] laughed when I brought along two yellow towels.  But realized my ‘wisdom’ when the sun is beating in the window, very hot on your leg.  Throw a towel over your leg and instant ‘cool.’  The air conditioner can only do so much.”  That’s a worthwhile suggestion, especially for those who are wearing short pants.

Purposes and methods will vary, but with a dependable vehicle, an alert driver and endless roadways, one can create a satisfying experience travelling by motor vehicle.  Preparation and planning, coupled with precision driving are paramount for your successful road trip.  Why not experience what may be a future endangered activity this summer?  Great travel weather beckons!

Readers may contact Bill Love via email at