Adventure

3 Essential US Road Trips from Rob Corddry

A vacation doesn’t always mean long flights to Positano or even weekends in Nantucket. Sometimes what you really need is to hit the road—for a bonding family trip, adventure with your best buddy (ideally, someone you don’t want to toss out the window three hours in), or hell, even just with yourself and a bit of contemplative peace and quiet.

Let’s be honest, as romantic as it sounds to just take to the open road and get lost, it helps to have a plan. From the best pit stops to the right cars to take you there, four-time Emmy Award winning writer, actor, comedian, Daily Show correspondent, and host of Top Gear America Rob Corddry breaks down three essential road trips: the quintessential cross-country trek, New England in the fall, or a half day through any twisty stretch of canyon road to feel the ultimate pleasure driving has to give.

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THE OBLIGATORY CROSS-COUNTRY TRIP

“Everyone has at least one in them. Having done it a few times, I can tell you it’s a lot more fun when it’s your own choice and you’re not doing it out of necessity. So, if you don’t have vacation plans yet, you do now.”

DURATION

“The fastest time ever was a little over 27 hours in a modified (and disguised) Mercedes e63, going an average speed of 103mph, with lookouts posted along the way. So, this trip takes anywhere between 27 hours to 27 years.”

THE CAR

“A comfortable one. This isn’t a trip for manual, 2-way adjustable seats. I suggest renting a diesel-powered Mercedes Sprinter camper van so you can save on gas and lodging. Ford and Dodge also make perfectly serviceable vans that people have turned into studio apartments.”

Photo Courtesy of Mercedes

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT

“Ours is a fine-looking country to be sure, but the sheer variety of terrain in the United States is breathtaking. You can be on a beach, go twisting through mountain passes and race down straight shots in a desert that go for miles all in the same day… AND YOU HAVEN’T EVEN LEFT CALIFORNIA!” 

FAVORITE PIT STOPS ALONG THE WAY

BRYCE AND ZION NATIONAL PARKS

YOSEMITE

THE COAST OF MAINE

“Rocks. Waves. Lighthouses. Sea glass. The whole deal.”

WEST TEXAS

“I had no idea Texas could be so beautiful until I went to Alpine on the Mexican border. Check out Marfa while you’re there. There’s a light phenomenon that’s turned the town into a poor man’s Area 51. And while you’re in Texas, stop in Austin.” 

THE SOUTH

“Specifically, Memphis, Nashville and Clarksdale, the birthplace of the blues. Clarksdale’s a super funky town that boasts the original crossroads where Robert Johnson fabricated a story about the Devil. Stay at the Shack-Up Inn and make sure to hit some of their moonshine before you wander around looking for juke joints, illegal blues clubs in someone’s living room.”

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR

“Asteroids, because you never know. Oh, also cops. I never use cruise control, in fact I sort of resent it. And adaptive cruise control can go to hell. But if you like it when a computer chip takes over for you, set it for 10mph over the speed limit and you’ll be fine.”

ANY TWISTY CANYON PASS

“If you’ve got the right car and haven’t blasted it around some twisties, you aren’t doing it right. You can find them anywhere that isn’t flat, so you’ll have to get out of the Midwest. Last year, I took my eleven-year-old daughter out driving on an obscure canyon road near the overcrowded Los Angeles Crest Highway and she left her brain on the floor board.”

DURATION

“3-8 hours. There’s plenty of road in and around the Los Angeles Crest Highway area so you can easily spend half a day. There’s even a famous Shell station on Foothill Dr. at the bottom of the mountain if you want to gas up and go again. Some people go to that Shell just to see the parade of supercars going in and out.”

THE CAR

“My first time was in a loaner Maclaren 600 LT, but my favorite drives have been in a Porsche. Pick one. Literally, any Porsche will do. If I had to choose I’d go in a 718 Cayman, ideally one with the letter G in its model number. The GTS 4.0 is a fine, somewhat affordable option (for a Porsche) and while its 911 brethren are the rightful flagship of the brand, the 718 is a mid-engine, so it’s perfectly balanced for canyon carving.”

Photo Courtesy of Porsche

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT

“Everything? In the right car you will understand what the car nerds mean when they talk about getting feedback from the road and the car. And when you break at the perfect moment and hit the apex in total control, you will have felt the ultimate pleasure driving can give.” 

FAVORITE PIT STOPS ALONG THE WAY

“Any of these roads have turnouts for slower cars where you can stretch, high-five, pee, and drink in the scenery. You’ll already feel like you’re on top of the world so the view will be a perfect compliment.”

WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR

“Slow cars. I’ve had many a drive ruined by some jerk who doesn’t understand turnouts. They’re the same clowns who use the left-hand lane on the highway like it’s a side street. The worst versions are the self-righteous ones who seem to be teaching me some kind of lesson.

Yourself. Don’t get cocky. These roads are super dangerous and many lives are lost on them every day. Drive within the limits of your ability or you’re rolling over the side, I guarantee it.

Cops. They love these roads because we love these roads. And, to be fair, they probably see a lot of gruesome stuff up there. So be cool.”

NEW ENGLAND IN OCTOBER

“Full discourse, I grew up in New England. But in case you’re worried that I’m a biased Masshole, you’re only half right. I’m a full-on Masshole, but I grew up not giving a shit about scenery and perhaps even resenting the adults around me who carried on about it. It wasn’t until I became one of those adults myself that I could even register the sheer majesty. The SHEEEEAH MAJESTY, KID!

DURATION

“A weekend. And make it a long one.” 

THE CAR

“You want something rugged but comfortable. A Subaru Outback is practically Vermont’s state bird. It has four-wheel drive for the rough patches and a great suspension, adding up to a surprisingly smooth ride that can go almost anywhere. If you want something a little fancier; a little more patrician, you should take a German station wagon. There’s nothing wrong with the Audi RS6 wagon. Audi is yawned at by car guys (myself included) but that’s what New England is all about. New Englanders aren’t drawing attention to themselves with their cars, they do that with the amount of alcohol they drink.” 

Photo Courtesy of Subaru

WHAT MAKES IT GREAT

“The foliage in New England is like no other I know of. The reds are deeper, more primary. The oranges are so bright you want to eat them. The yellows will make you believe in God. And I challenge you to identify all the other colors in between. Gazing out onto a New England landscape on the perfect weekend in October is like being able to see a new color spectrum. And then there’s the food. More on that below…”

FAVORITE PIT STOPS ALONG THE WAY

BURLINGTON, VT

“Have breakfast at the Penny Cluse Cafe and, later on, eat the best Buffalo Wings in New England at Nectar’s (the spot where Phish was born if you care about that at all).”

THE MT. WASHINGTON AUTO ROAD

“Long ago, my distant relatives owned this road. But they, with their shrewd financial prowess, chose selling it over getting rich. 45,000 cars travel up this road (and back down, I assume), bringing 250,000 visitors at the peak. The views are unparalleled. But bring a warm layer, even in summer. The wind is fierce and the weather is erratic.”

BOSTON

“A lot of mobsters got rich making this city beautiful. See a game at Fenway.”

Photo by Maddie Meyer

PORTLAND, MAINE

“If you hate cobblestones and lobster rolls, stay out. Come for the seafood but make sure to try the NOT FAMOUS AT ALL Maine Italian Sandwich at Amato’s. There’s nothing Italian about it and it’s delicious.”

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