As I've written before, to fully comprehend what it means to be American, one must travel, to sing with poet Walt Whitman "the Song of the Open Road". Americans have long succumbed to the lure and the magic of the open road. That explains why Jack Kerouac became something of an American folk hero, why William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways became a bestseller, and why John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley is a classic, required reading by students of American literature.
I found a good audio companion for the road trip: "Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip", an audio cd by Ken Burns, Dayton Duncan and Tom Hanks, about the first successful automobile trip in the spring of 1903 from the West Coast to the East Coast. It's worth listening to in order to ponder how much the country has changed since 1903, and how we take high-speed travel for granted now.
Recent trip to Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah means I've upped the number of states I've now visited to 39, and 76% of the U.S., according to Visited States, a percentage unimaginable to my grandparents. Take the survey (there's also one of Visited Countries), and tell how many you've visited.
Playing the states game with my 10-year-old son in the car while driving to and through Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, we spied license plates from 45 states, EVERY STATE except West Virginia, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Mississippi and Hawaii. Saw several vehicles with Maine, Vermont and even Rhode Island license plates, suggesting that not even New Englanders are daunted by the prospect of coast-to-coast travel.