RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Road Trip USA: Cross-Country Adventures on America's Two-Lane Highways, by Jamie Jensen

Road Trip USA

One of the definitive road guides we've kept close at hand ever since it was first published, Road Trip USA has recently been updated in a fourth edition. Jamie Jensen's excellent book provides detailed descriptions of eleven classic coast-to-coast road trips. Itineraries include journeys along the "Mother Road" (Route 66), "The Loneliest Road" (US-50), the "Southern Pacific" (US-80) and the famous "Road to Nowhere" (US-83). The biggest changes in this newest edition are the hundreds of color photographs and an innovative cover design with fold-over flaps that work as built-in page markers. If you liked the prose of the first edition published in 1996, you will find this new one comfortable and familiar. The author has updated the stated population statistics and many of the dining and lodging establishments he recommends.

One of my criticisms of the earlier editions, the occasional harsh treatment of certain towns and areas, has all but disappeared from this edition. The author has traveled nearly 400,000 miles in search of the "perfect stretch of two-lane blacktop." Along the way his perceptions about the people he has met and the places he has explored over these last few years seem to have mellowed and deepened his appreciation for this land. This book creates a tapestry of great American roadtrip experiences. It's a guide book that belongs in every roadtripper's personal library.

Two delightful features of this book are the extensive use of reproduced U.S. postage stamps to introduce the different states and the remarkable collection of business and special attraction logos and banners found on nearly every page. The "Road Trip Resources" section provides an excellent list of travel organizations and an interesting selection of travelogues. Jensen's attention to detail is excellent, and he provides plenty of inspiration to discover even more hidden treasures that exist along the path of every road trip. All the routes feature detailed maps, anecdotes about remarkable people who lived in the area, and photographs that whet the appetite for further exploration.

The page layout and design of this new edition is appealing and increases the fun of "random paging". My favorite articles include the description of the Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys and the hobbit-like dwelling created by the British sculptor Sir Henry Kitson in Tyringam, Massachusetts. The real genius of the book continues to be the description of the places found along the eleven routes that Jensen profiles. US-2, the nation's longest transcontinental highway, runs from Seattle, Washington, to Acadia National Park in Maine. RoadTrip USA can guide you every inch of the way, but it's also a valuable companion for those who have time only for shorter odysseys, like one of our favorites, a scenic stretch of the Great River Road in Louisiana.

Mark Sedenquist

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