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Thody's American Adventures

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Thody's American Adventures: Directory of Articles


An Overview of Thody's American Adventures
(Each article has its own detail map)

Over the last several years, Peter Thody has written some of the best-read travel commentary on RoadTrip America. His 2007 road trip from Chicago to San Francisco, published in 10 installments in 2008, gave readers a fresh perspective on the American West. That's because Thody is an Englishman -- clueless about some things Americans take for granted, unafraid to poke fun at some Western heroes and traditions, and unabashed in his wonder at the beauty of it all. This year, Thody returned to the United States with his wife, Carole, for a road trip through the American South. Three great byways -- the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Historic National Road and the Blue Ridge Parkway -- provided the basic framework for the trip, a three-week whistle-stop tour of 14 states and the District of Columbia.

Blue Ridge Parkway

October 19, 2009
Cherokee to Gatlinburg - A Day in the Great Smoky Mountains
A personal greeting from a Cherokee elder, a walk in the woods in Bill Bryson's footsteps, and two entirely different bear encounters end Peter Thody's three-week trip through the eastern U.S. Join him as he travels across the Smokies and discovers that there's still plenty of room to breathe in America's busiest national park.

Blue Ridge Parkway

September 21, 2009
Beauty Born of Depression: The Blue Ridge Parkway
Bluegrass music, flatfoot dancing and almost 500 miles of unspoilt scenery weave a spell that is uniquely American over the hills and valleys of the central Appalachians. Follow the Blue Ridge Parkway with British road tripper Peter Thody as he discovers the rustic charm of a 70-year-old wooden cabin, meets a park ranger who doesn't really like tourists, and crosses a bridge that doesn't quite live up to its name.


August 14, 2009
Rain, Fire and Bears: On the Road through Virginia to Washington, D.C.
A drive through Virginia - with an unscheduled side trip to Washington, D.C. - provides our British road tripper with a taste of everything America does best: living history, public monuments and glorious natural scenery. Peter Thody takes the wheel on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, the National Mall and Shenandoah National Park.

Delmarva Peninsula

July 10, 2009
Back in Time on the Delmarva Peninsula
From a courtroom drama involving a horse to a near head-on collision with a U.S. Navy warship, British correspondent Peter Thody travels through the centuries on a 200-mile trip down the Delmarva Penin-sula. Join him on a journey that also takes in crab shacks, dirt-poor shantytowns and a selection of Redneck souvenirs.

Madonna of the Trail

June 12, 2009
Across the Appalachians and on to New Jersey
A whistle-stop trip across West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey takes our British road tripper, Peter Thody, over some historic American ground. Three battlefields recall bitter conflicts from three different wars, while an encounter with some Amish people gets Thody thinking about how we look at things.

40 Motel in Ohio

May 15, 2009
Across Ohio, the Wrong Way, on the Historic National Road
No road in American history has played a greater role in opening up the country than what's known today as The Historic National Road. Join Peter Thody as he drives across Ohio and discovers that historic sites aren't always scenic, that there are times when a chain hotel is infinitely preferable to an independent motel, and that some things were just not meant to be.

Rural Indiana

April 10, 2009
James Dean's Grave and Other Good Reasons to Visit Indiana
A 200-mile drive to visit James Dean's grave takes Peter Thody through the USA's most depressingly named town, the country's sixth most interesting city from an architectural point of a view, and one of only two state capitals to include the name of the state in its own name. Join him and wife Carole as they discover these and other good reasons to visit Indiana.

Natchez-Trace Parkway

March 20, 2009
From Bible Belt to Bourbon on the Old Kentucky Turnpike
Regaining his composure after the unexpected sight of a billboard extolling the benefits of child beating, Peter Thody takes the relaxed route north through Kentucky along U.S. Highway 31E. Along the way, he and wife, Carole, visit a log cabin that Abraham Lincoln wasn't born in, spend a night in jail and discover a taste for sour mash bourbon.

Natchez-Trace Parkway

February 13, 2009
Graves, Guns and Great-Great Grandmothers on the Natchez Trace

Peter Thody's drive up the northern section of the Natchez Trace Parkway begins with an encounter with a gun-toting hillbilly in Mississippi and ends with an encounter with an overamorous reveler in a honky-tonk bar in Nashville. On a drive that takes him through three Southern states, he also visits graves, battlegrounds and a monument to an Indian woman called Te-lah-nay.

Atlanta at Night

January 30, 2009
Coca-Cola and Elvis Presley: Welcome to the South
In this, the first leg of Peter Thody's 2008 road trip through the South, he and his wife, Carole, travel from Atlanta, Ga., birthplace of Coca-Cola, CNN and Martin Luther King Jr., to Tupelo, Miss., birthplace of Elvis Aaron Presley. With just one or two notable exceptions, they encounter nothing but the very best of Southern hospitality.


In the summer of 2007, Peter Thody and his wife Carole left their home in Leeds, England to embark on a 4,000-mile American road trip. Hotel bookings in Chicago and San Francisco established the bookends of the trip, a rental Jeep provided the means of getting from A to B, but the four weeks in between were left to write their own story.

June Lake

September 19, 2008
California, Here We Are
On this, the final leg of their drive from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean, Peter Thody and wife Carole visit a ghost town, camp out in Sequoia National Park, and encounter their first traffic jam since leaving Chicago four weeks earlier. They survive close encounters with flies, black bears and, scariest of all, a San Francisco cable car driver. It is a crash landing back into civilization for this English couple, who've driven more than 4,000 miles on their Great American Road Trip.

Great Basin sculpture

August 22 , 2008
Taking the Even-Lonelier Highway across Nevada
After enjoying a wonderful life in the gambling town of Ely, Nevada, Peter Thody pushes wife Carole's patience to the limit on a spur-of-the-moment and probably ill-advised eight-mile dirt road adventure. Join them as they follow the Nevada section of U.S. Route 6, America's second longest highway.

Monument Valley

July 11, 2008
Slowing the Pace in Western Utah
From the sandstone cliffs and lush greenery of Zion National Park to the searing heat and inhospitable desert of the Wah Wah Mountains, Peter Thody explores the southwest corner of Utah, discovers his favorite bar in the whole of America and decides that, like the outlaw Josey Wales, he wants to settle here.

Monument Valley

June 20, 2008
The Natural Wonders of Northern Arizona
Few places on earth could fill 48 hours quite so memorably as northern Arizona. On this leg of his western journey, Peter Thody takes in two of the world's most recognizable landmarks, saves a few dollars on hotel bills at wife Carole's expense, and manages to avoid being party to the mass suicide of the state's chipmunk population.


May 23, 2008
Utah: Land of a Thousand Westerns
Two national parks -- Arches and Canyonlands -- provide the backdrop for the eastern Utah leg of Peter Thody's 4,000-mile journey from the Great Lakes to the Pacific coast. Join him and wife Carole as they sleep with the ghosts of old movie stars, get to grips with the state's curious licensing laws and marvel at what a bit of wind and water can do to sandstone.


April 18, 2008
Majesty and Mortality: It's Good to be Alive in Colorado
A server with attitude ensures that there's no such thing as a free lunch; a 200-yard stroll brings on a bad case of altitude sickness; and news from home casts a shadow over the trip. But for Peter Thody, the abiding memories of the five days he and wife Carole spent traveling through Colorado will be of the classic lake-and-mountain landscape of the Rockies and the canyons and red-rock country of the West.

Storm clouds

March 21, 2008
Wyoming: Wine and Hors d'Oeuvres in the Cowboy State
Wyoming is home to the world's largest outdoor rodeo, historic sections of the Lincoln Highway and an ancient tree clinging to life on a granite boulder. These are just some of the must-see attractions that Peter Thody contrived to miss on his 24-hour dash across the southeast corner of the state. What he and wife Carole did experience was an unexpected side of the Cowboy State: one of good wine, imaginative cuisine and a motel luxury that neither of them will ever be able to erase from their memory.

Chimney Rock

February 22, 2008
Nebraska: God Bless the Amber Waves of Grain
Before arriving in Nebraska, Peter Thody had been warned to expect "a whole lotta nuttin'." But he and wife Carole discover plenty to write home about, including beautiful scenery, the historic Lincoln Highway, a don't-miss museum and a particularly aggressive species of fly. Which just goes to show, you really do have to find things out for yourself.

Iowa Scenic Byway

January 25, 2008
Death Metal and Empty Streets: The Charm of the "Tall Corn State"
Peter Thody visits Iowa, the state many believe provides a window into how America used to be: a simpler, more innocent way of life. And while credit cards are indeed still viewed with suspicion, Thody struggles to imagine Doris Day attending a death-metal disco or Pa Ingalls searching for work along a climate-controlled skywalk. Like everywhere else, the "Tall Corn State" is changing -- and not always for the best.

"The Bean"

December 14, 2007
Chicago to the Mississippi
Thody's first adventure took him to Illinois, where he discovered some odd examples of Americana: a 110-ton coffee bean, a 2,000-foot drill bit and a seemingly endless supply of artistically rusty, vintage farm implements.


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