The Dream Of An Epic Road Trip


I took this picture one early morning as the BFF and I headed to see the sun rise over Cocoa Beach.

Sometimes reading a book is like taking a road trip. You travel these incredible distances, broken up by mini-adventures and memory-making, and even though you try to take it slow, you find yourself approaching the end far too soon.

I’ve wanted to read Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour for months, so I tried to pace myself when I started it last week. It was finished by Friday afternoon.

So that’s that. I’ve now read three books on my summer reading list, and it’s only July. I didn’t factor in twenty-minute subway rides.

The good thing is that the book did not disappoint me. It was full of bittersweet discoveries and budding romance. Fantastic. Now all I want to do is take my own epic road trip. Sadly, I need money for that.

And a car.

And my own Magellan. I can be Chekov, or maybe Sancho Panza.

(Oh, just read the book. It will make sense once you do.)

Road trips are a big deal in my family. My mother and her parents were constantly road tripping when she was growing up, and she was determined that her kids would have the same opportunities, even though she knew we would be raised overseas. I’ve been on at least eight road trips with my family, which is a lot if you consider the fact that I’ve only lived in America with them for approximately eleven years. On top of those trips, there are also the countless ones that I’ve gone on with my dad during his itineration. (This is how I’ve managed to visit thirty states.)

My grandparents and mother visiting Sedona, AZ, in 1977.

So yeah, road trips are important, and it’s been almost four years since I’ve had one. And except for a few mini trips with my college roommates to Iowa and Illinois, I’ve never gone on an extensive, across-the-great-continental-United-States trip with friends. Just family. That should change.

I don’t know when, I don’t know how, and I don’t know with whom, but one of these days I’m going to go on an epic road trip, and I’ve got the where partially planned.

The characters in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour made a point to take advantage of the opportunities that road trips present and to not stick to a strict itinerary. I’m up for that, but I’d have to put my foot down and demand visits to California, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Graceland. For some reason, I’ve never been able to get to those four, and that frustrates me.

Amy and Roger also eat at a lot of good places. On my road trip, I would definitely stop at the Village Inn, which was my favorite hang out/study spot when I was in college. Other places to eat would be Sonic, Steak ‘n’ Shake, In-n-Out, Taco John’s, random BBQ joints and diners, and Andy’s Frozen Custard. Screw lactose intolerance.

Avoid White Castle. Don’t even think about it. So gross.

And of course, epic tunes are required.

Emily’s Epic Road Trip

Start Your Engines, Virginia

  • “You Give Love A Bad Name,” Bon Jovi
  • “Good Time,” Owl City feat. Carly Rae Jepsen
  • “Soundtrack for Our Movie,” Mae
  • “Go,” My Favorite Highway

Playlist on Spotify

I know I live in New York right now, and who knows where I’ll be living when I take this trip, but as most of my road trips have started in Virginia, it just feels right to keep the tradition going.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

  • “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” John Denver
  • “Here Comes the Sun,” The Beatles

FYI, it will rain on the West Virginia Turnpike. It always rains on the West Virginia Turnpike. ALWAYS.

Got to catch up with my girl Jessica, too.

I’ve Seen This Movie Before, Kentucky

  • “Come Pick Me Up,” Ryan Adams
  • “60B (Etown Theme)” from the Elizabethtown original soundtrack
  • “My Father’s Gun,” Elton John

Playlist on Spotify

Louisville! Elizabethtown! FOOD!

Avoid KY if the Derby is happening. There will be no vacancies and lots of traffic.

Come On, Feel The Illinois

  • “Chicago,” Sufjan Stevens
  • “I’m Looking Through You,” The Beatles
  • “Smile,” Harry Connick, Jr.

Playlist on Spotify

Illinois drivers are the worst, or so my best friend is constantly telling me.

Missouri Loves Company

  • “Mama Said,” The Shirelles
  • “Ooh La La,” The Faces
  • “Don’t Stop Believing,” Journey
  • “Kansas City” from the Oklahoma! Soundtrack

Playlist on Spotify

Have to visit Mecca (aka, Springfield) and take a trip down memory lane. There are friends and professors to see and old haunts to visit. Like Andy’s Frozen Custard, the Mudhouse, Village Inn, the fountains at Jordan Valley Park… Plus, there’s always Branson and Silver Dollar City.

Oh, I Know All I Owe I Owe Ioway

  • “Any Way You Want It,” Journey
  • “Sweetness,” Jimmy Eat World
  • “American Pie,” Don McLean

About to start an Iowa-Illinois trip with the BFF.

Pick up the BFF and drive to New Sharon, the smallest town I’ve ever visited, to see more friends. Blast a lot of music to keep ourselves awake on those empty roads. Eat at Taco John’s. Be sure to stop at Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop.

Minnesota, Dontcha Know

  • “Fireflies,” Owl City
  • “The Technicolor Phase,” Owl City
  • “The Bird and the Worm,” Owl City

Playlist on Spotify

I want to ride the roller coaster in the Mall of America. And I strongly dislike roller coasters. I’d also like to stalk casually run into Adam Young at the Owatonna Walmart.

There are also friends there, too. Good friends who would be more than willing to let me crash on their sofa. (Right, Pamela?)

All the South Dakota Mornings I Have Known

  • “With a Little Help From My Friends,” Joe Cocker
  • “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” The Proclaimers
  • “Rockin’ Robin,” Michael Jackson

Playlist on Spotify

One of my favorite places in the whole world is the Badlands in SD. I know, I know, I’m weird.

I’ll have to stop by and stay a spell with Sarah and Tim, too.

Why, Oh Wyoming

  • “Swing, Swing,” The All-American Rejects
  • “Tiny Dancer,” Elton John
  • “Ceremony,” New Order

Yellowstone. It snowed. In May.

To Do
– Get lost in Yellowstone.
– See bison and Old Faithful.
– Do not eat at Mexican restaurants.

It’s Lonely Without Utah

  • “English Girls Approximately,” Ryan Adams
  • “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight,” The Postal Service
  • “Move Along,” The All-American Rejects

Playlist on Spotify

Honestly, nothing stands out about Utah in my childhood memories, so… I’ll just drive on through.

Home Means Nevada?

  • “A Little Less Conversation,” Elvis Presley
  • “Take Me Out,” Franz Ferdinand
  • “Smooth,” Santana and Rob Thomas

Playlist on Spotify

I’d like to drive through Las Vegas. Not sure if I want to spend a lot of time there, but I do want to see it. Also, I’d like to travel The Loneliest Road in America, as long as we have enough gas, fully charged cell phones, and water.

California, Here We Come

  • “California,” Phantom Planet
  • “Slow Down,” The Academy Is…
  • “Hotel California,” The Eagles
  • “Pacific Coast Party,” Smash Mouth

Playlist on Spotify

San Francisco! Hollywood! San Diego! Movie Stars! The Pacific Ocean! In-n-Out!

Stars Were For Shining In The Arizona Sky

  • “Stay the Night,” James Blunt
  • “Video Killed the Radio Star,” The Buggles
  • “Getaway Car,” My Favorite Highway
  • “Wildwood Flower,” June Carter Cash

Playlist on Spotify

Might as well stop and see the Grand Canyon, and then make our way to Four Corners, USA.

Spend a Pleasant Summer Out In New Mexico…

  • “Alligator Sky,” Owl City
  • “Beautiful Day,” U2
  • “Nothing To Remember,” Neko Case

Playlist on Spotify

A chance to see friends, White Sands, and my family’s land.

Colorado Can’t Be Missed

  • The Sound of Music soundtrack
  • “Rocky Mountain High,” John Denver
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  • “Good Life,” OneRepublic

Garden of the Gods (Om)

I have a precious memory of rolling down the windows and belting out, “The hills are aliiiiive with the sound of muuuusiiiiiic!” with my family while driving through the Rockies. And the Tien Shan. And the Alps.

Colorado is just a beautiful state. I’m always amazed at just how big the sky is, and how close it feels. It’s fascinating—you drive over the state line, and it’s like you could really reach out and touch the sky. Plus, Colorado looks a lot like Kazakhstan to me.

You’re Doin’ Fine, Oklahoma

  • The Oklahoma! Soundtrack (preferably the 1998 London cast with Hugh Jackman)

Drive through Oklahoma so as to avoid Kansas.

Avoid Kansas at all costs.

That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)

  • “Captains of the Sky,” Sky Sailing
  • “Life is a Highway,” Rascal Flatts
  • “Mr. Blue Sky,” Electric Light Orchestra
  • “Born to Be Wild,” Steppenwolf
  • “Independence,” The Band Perry
  • “Is This Sound Okay?” Coconut Records

Ah, Texas.

Texas is going to require it’s own road trip, isn’t it? There are too many people to visit and too many places to eat. At least I can save on hotel fare.

Louisiana, My Louisiana

  • State Song: “You Are My Sunshine”
  • “Get Ready,” The Temptations
  • “Lady Marmalade” from the Moulin Rouge! Soundtrack

I really want to see New Orleans.

There Are Four “I’s” In Mississippi

  • “Boy Named Sue,” Johnny Cash
  • “High of 75,” Relient K
  • “I Want You To Want Me,” Letters to Cleo

… What can you do in Mississippi?

Alabama, Where The Skies Are So Blue

  • “Sweet Home Alabama,” Lynyrd Skynrd
  • “Jackson,” Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash
  • “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” U2

No idea what’s there except for tornadoes and mosquitoes.

Florida Isn’t Really All That Cool…

  • “Island in the Sun,” Weezer
  • “Sweet Pea,” Amos Lee
  • “The Saltwater Room,” Owl City

Beaches! Orlando! Universal Studios! Cocoa Beach! Disneyworld! Miami! The Keys! Oranges! Key lime pie!

Bless Your Heart, Miss Georgia

  • “Georgia On My Mind,” Michael Buble
  • “Why Georgia,” John Mayer
  • “My Girl,” The Temptations

Georgia is beautiful.

Tennessee, You’re The Only Ten I See

  • “All Shook Up,” Elvis Presley
  • “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Elvis Presley
  • “Suspicious Minds,” Elvis Presley

Memphis! Graceland! The Lorraine Motel and the National Civil Rights Museum!

If You’re From The South, Why Are You North Carolina?
(Oh my God, Emily, you can’t just ask people why they’re northern.)

  • “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond
  • “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road),” Frank Sinatra

This is would be the low point of the trip – when it’s almost done. Let’s just get this over with now.

Oh, look! Barbecue!

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

  • “East Virginia Blues,” June Carter Cash
  • “Blue Ridge Mountain Girl,” Blue Highway
  • “I-95,” Fountains of Wayne

Hello again, Virginia, you beautiful, humid, wonderful state.

Where would you go? Who would you listen to? Where would you eat?

And most importantly, who wants to come with me?

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6 thoughts on “The Dream Of An Epic Road Trip

    • Haha! I know, but I just love those restaurants. And don’t worry about Tennessee – I’m totally interested in seeing more, I’m just determined to visit Memphis.

      • Just don’t forget to mix it up and try the local cuisine. 😀

        Glad to hear it! West, Middle and East are almost as different as separate states.

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