When it comes to works about the Great American Road trip, I’ve always been much more of a Steinbeck Travels with Charley kind of girl than On the Road or Easy Rider. The entirety of the quote I stole from Steinbeck to make my blog title is this:
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
I grew up taking day trips and car trips with my parents (we made the Reinholds, PA to Holyoke, MA trip every six weeks) and it’s something my husband and I have continued. I love traveling by car and having the freedom to decide on a whim to stop and see something advertised along the road. Growing up, my parents were always game to stop at strange parks or kitschy shops. The joy of finding something you didn’t expect is my favorite part of travel and I think road trips are the best way to discover those experiences.
Since I started at UDPL, we’ve completed two major road trips:
Philadelphia to Cincinnati to Chicago to Spring Green, WI to Ypsilanti, MI to Niagara Falls to Philadelphia in 2015.
Philadelphia to Las Vegas (we cheated and flew to Vegas) to Palm Desert, CA to San Diego, CA to Los Angeles, CA to Las Vegas to Philadelphia in 2016.
And this coming Saturday, we’ll get up early, turn our city house over to my brother who’s keeping the dog, and head out on our 2017 road trip to Maine, Vermont, and New York.
The map above shows just a few of the possible places we’re considering visiting. (Because who knows what else we might find once we get there?!) You can click on the highlighted locations below to find out more about any of the places we’ll pass along the way.
The Wadsworth-Longfellow House – Portland, ME: As a librarian, I’m fairly positive that every vacation I take will always involve visiting at least one author’s homestead! And since the first six lines of Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” were some of the first poetry I ever memorized, this seems like it might be a good stop!
The International Cryptozoology Museum – Portland, ME: I’ve always been fascinated by myths, legends, and the unexplained. I may not be a true believer when it comes to the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot, but that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to spend a couple of hours learning about all of the mysterious creatures that may or may not (probably not!) exist.
Bread and Puppet Theater Museum – Glover, VT: Ever since I saw a Julie Taymor play as a six year old, I’ve been in love with life size and larger puppets. Bread and Puppet has a huge collection of giant masks and articulated props housed in an oversize barn. It’s one of the quirkiest sites on our itinerary and one that I’m really, really looking forward to!
Cabot Creamery Factory Tour – Cabot VT and Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour – Waterbury, VT: There are few things better than a factory tour. Not just because they usually involve samples, but also because I think it’s important to know how your food gets to your table! It’s pretty definite that we’ll stop at Cabot and Ben & Jerry’s, but we’re also considering Lake Champlain Chocolates and a number of breweries too!
Tunbridge World’s Fair – Tunbridge, VT: The Tunbridge World’s Fair turns 150 this year and we’re planning on stopping by to wish it happy birthday! This is one of those hidden gems you find sometimes on a road trip – a community event that is only accessible to tourists if they happen to be in town when they happen! It looks like a combination of the PA Farm Show, a community carnival, and a county fair. There are also demonstrations of historical farming techniques and fried dough!!
Trapp Family Lodge – Stowe, VT: Who doesn’t love The Sound of Music and who hasn’t considered turning curtains into play clothes?! And who knew that once the real family the musical was based on left Austria, they settled in Stowe, VT? We aren’t staying at their lodge, but we will definitely be stopping by the von Trapp family cemetery to pay our respects to the real Maria!
President Calvin Coolidge House – Plymouth, VT and President Chester Arthur House, Fairfield, VT: My husband has a deep love of presidential history and he’s incredibly happy that we’ll be passing by not one, but two homes that once housed US presidents!
Montreal, QC, Canada: In all fairness, we’re taking a day trip to Montreal mostly to see friends, but even if we didn’t have anyone to visit, we’d be crossing the border! It’s a quick and comfortable drive from where we’re staying in Stowe!
Shelburne Museum – Shelburne, VT: Of all the museums we could visit, this is the one I’m most excited for. There are over 150,000 artifacts and artworks spread throughout 39 museum buildings. They have a large collection of automata, mechanical toys, that rivals international collections and a huge selection of antique circus memorabilia and posters!
Salt Museum – Liverpool, NY: Without salt, there would be no Syracuse. And since we’re ending our vacation with a weekend at a lake house outside of Syracuse, we thought it would make a fabulous final stop!
I can’t recommend road tripping enough! If you or your family would like to plan your own trip, the library has plenty of books and tools to help. I used Colors of Fall by Jerry and March Monkman to help me figure out some of our trip along with Google’s My Map tool to make sure we found the best driving routes.
There’s a map of my trip posted on my office window, so feel free to follow along or stop by and ask to see photos when I get back!