HomeCar Culture’Tis the season for the summer road trip

’Tis the season for the summer road trip

We’re sharing our stories but are eager to read your tales as well


(Editors note: During the month of July, the Journal is publishing a series of stories about summer road trips. Larry Edsall, who is in the midst of a 7,500-mile summer road trip, introduces the theme today. In addition to our own tales from the road, we’re eager to share your stories about summer road trips you’ve done, with family, in a classic car, perhaps in a classic car when it was just the family cruiser. Please submit your stories and a few photos from your trip to [email protected].)

I’m not sure if it is fitting or ironic that I’m typing on my laptop sitting atop a desk at the La Quinta by Wyndham in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where I’m perhaps midway through a summer road trip that began in Nevada, took us (traveling with a soon-to-be 11-year-old granddaughter) to Florida, and then here (stopped by the National Corvette Museum earlier today en route to Michigan), and later (as my grandparents’ generation used to put it, “God willing and the creek don’t rise”) back to Nevada.

This isn’t just any summer road trip, but one part of the 75 Days of Summer, a fund-raising program for Drive Toward a Cure and its fight against Parkinson’s.

Actually, I’m not sure I’m the right person to be writing about summer road trips because, as a child, many of our family road trips took place in the fall. My parents liked to see places where the leaves turned colors. They’d pull us out of school (but not out of homework), and we’d be off for a week or so.

My first such memory was a trip to New England in 1956. I remember the trip not for the year but because Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series history while we were traveling. On the way home, I begged my Dad to stop at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, but all I saw was the exit sign for that city because Mom wanted to go to the Corning Glass factory and with Dad’s work schedule, we didn’t have time to go both places.

Some 50 years later, I finally got to Cooperstown, on a true summer road trip, and got to share the experience with a grandson, which, as it turned out, made the visit well worth the wait.

Scenic Route is the way to go | Abby Watkins photo

For many years, I’d leave the desert Southwest early each summer and travel to the cooler climate of Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. As much as possible, I’d travel the old two-lane and state highways rather than the Interstates. I wanted to experience the country, not just hurry through it.

On one such road trip, I found a small wooden cutout showing a couple in a mid-century convertible above the words “Scenic Route.” It sits on a bookshelf in my home and reminds me that the scenic route is always the best way to go, and it’s also the way my parents took us on all of those road trips.

Although the subject here is supposed to be summer road trips, I have continued to do my personal road trips, for the most part, in September or October. The roads are less crowded after school is back in session and the weather isn’t quite so hot or humid, though there is the risk of being caught in a snowstorm in the mountains.

That happened to me, but I found shelter in a ranger’s station and not only was greeted with a cup of coffee, but a nice education about the Native American site that was quickly being buried under snow just outside the station’s window. 

I’ll be back later this month with some more road trip stories. Others on the Journal staff will be sharing their memories as well, but we also want to read and share your stories from the road. Please send them, with some photos, to us at [email protected].

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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