We have searched for a year for the best vehicle for our road trips. We looked at Class C RVs, Class B RVs, Chevrolet Surburbans, Ford Expeditions, Various Vans (Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Dodge) and conversion vans based on the various van platforms. We were looking for something with more space then our Honda Odyssey since some of our grandchildren are reaching adult size. We finally decided on a nine passenger Explorer conversion van based on the General Motors platform (Chevrolet or GMC which are essentially identical). Today our 2017 Explorer Van was delivered.
For me road trips are the best way to experience the vastness and geographical transitions of our country. You get a real sense of the size of the Great Plains when you drive all the way through them. You can imagine what it was like as a Native American living in this treeless land, and appreciate the drive and endurance of settlers as they covered this ground mile by mile as they moved west. You don’t get that same appreciation flying over at 30,000 feet.
The geographical transitions are better appreciated driving. Looming mountains many miles ahead, the escarpments of the Colorado Plateau, the mesas, the canyons and the broad valleys are all are parts of the great tapestry of our country. Sometimes the features blend and other times they are demarcated sharply. The tapestry is best appreciated recognizing the boundaries of these parts.
You also get a better feel of the different ways we Americans live; the various micro-cultures and circumstances. You meet different types of people. Cowboys, Native Americans, truckers, park rangers, historians, and all walks of life. Many are in their normal settings and not misplaced to some exotic destination. You can better appreciate their reality and their perspective.
Road trips are less rushed. It is true that sometimes many miles must be covered but you are on your own schedule. You set the agenda. Since 9/11 the necessary security measures have made me feel like cattle whenever I fly. Herded here and there, at the mercy of delays not in your control. The planes are cramped and uncomfortable. I am much more comfortable in a my own vehicle on my own schedule.
Road trips can be less expensive. It is true the wear and tear on vehicles must be considered as well as cost of gas. But especially for larger groups when multiple air fares can become prohibitively expensive driving is usually less expensive.
Most people I know go to a destination when they go on vacation. They usually fly for efficiency, spend their time at the destination, and fly back. Although navigating airports and commercial flights can be an adventure, it is not one that is sought out or usually enjoyed. A road trip is different. The road is as much a destination – and part of the adventure – as the connected stops. It strikes me that flying to and from a destination for a vacation is analogous to the digitization of our music, our pictures and our information. We are picking out one mp3 track instead of letting the album side play. Some albums are made to play through, like the second side of Abbey Road. America is country best appreciated played through. Road trips are analog.