YEARS BEHIND THE WHEEL
hard for us to believe it, but it's been a decade
since we first hit the road on the journey that evolved
into RoadTrip America. On this tenth anniversary, we've
decided to look back and trace the route that led us here,
and to share a few pieces of wisdom that have stuck to
our tire treads along the way.
many of you know, the RoadTrip America story began
with the enormous wildfires that swept through Southern
California in October, 1993. They destroyed hundreds of
homes, and ours was one of the first to go. While some
might say that the fire burned up our common sense along
with all our worldly possessions, it also provided the
perfect catalyst for hitting the road. We had no stuff
to put in storage, and we had a small nest egg. When we
set out in March, 1994, we thought we were embarking on
a trip that might last six months -- a year at the outside.
Nearly seven years later, we were still out there, still
exploring. A big part of the reason was the Internet.
was born on Valentine's Day, 1996. After launching
the site, we proudly plastered the URL on the side of
our motorhome. Nowadays, such decoration is hardly worth
a mention, but back then in the Jurassic Age of the Web,
handles beginning with "http://" were often
observed with great suspicion. At worst, we were dangerous
subversives, and at best, it was clear evidence we were
kooks. In early 1996 in a public library in Arizona, the
librarian threatened to call the police when we asked
if we might leave pamphlets about RoadTrip America on
the library's "free information" table. But
things changed fast. By Thanksgiving of that same year,
RoadTrip America had been profiled in People Magazine,
and libraries across the continent were beginning to provide
free Internet access.
we struggled to update RoadTrip America while traveling,
it seemed like everyone except us was an expert on sending
email from distant and remote locations and logging onto
the Web from mountaintops. Whenever we described our difficulties
in sending email using a cell or pay phone, people would
regale us with stories about "some kayaker"
who was updating a Web site from an inaccessible river
somewhere in Alaska. If that were true, we wondered, why
were we still having so much trouble while parked on the
edge of a modern highway? The search for an answer resulted
in dashboarding, a word we coined to describe the concept
of working on a roll using wireless Web access. While
many wireless applications work far better in 2004 than
they did in 1994, an inexpensive, efficient, easy-to-use,
two-way mobile communication system remains the unattained
holy grail of those who live and work on the road.
to the cleansing fire, it was a fairly easy decision
for us to hit the road in 1994. Staying on the road and
making the commitment to keep going no matter what were
a bit more challenging. We might well have ground to a
halt long ago if it weren't for all the excellent people
we met along the path. Literally thousands of friends
and supporters have contributed to the evolution of RoadTrip
America as it has grown from the traveling tales of two
nomads and their dog into a worldwide roadtripping community
that inspires, educates, and challenges all those who
feel the urge to discover what lies beyond that next horizon.
learned during the last decade of roadtripping:
of the most magnificent scenery in America can be seen
from Interstate highways. (Not all two lane roads are
worth the effort.)
on-the-road problem is so bad that a well-honed sense
of humor can't help solve it.
it's better to do the impossible than to be responsible.
trip to anywhere can be a roadtrip. It's simply a matter
of noticing that it is a roadtrip.
beauty is wonderful, but it's always the people you
and kindness are always returned at least ten-fold.
impossible to run out of money. (We know. We've tried.
We've always failed.)
you need a guardian angel, one will always show up,
even if you can't recognize him, her, or it at the time.
is no substitute for -- just doing it.
RoadTrip America is the joint effort of editors, book
reviewers, contributing writers, forum moderators, information
technologists, Web designers, photographers, and hundreds
of knowledgeable road trippers who share their discoveries,
concerns, and dreams about roadtripping in North America.
In the months ahead, we'll be adding new planning tools
and articles about getting out there. In the meantime,
go have an adventure -- today!
Mark Sedenquist & Megan Edwards