Summer and fall are the best seasons to pick up a good book and hit the open road. Whether you’re in search of quirky roadside attractions, on the hunt for the best leaf peeping locales, or are just looking to get away for a weekend, road trips offer a great trip even if you’re working with a small budget. And what’s better than a great read to accompany your days on the road? We’ve taken three recently released travelogues and paired them with a relevant road trip, so you can explore America from the comfort of your favorite chair, the driver’s seat, or both.
After his father died in 2010, novelist and journalist Philip Caputo hooked an airstream he nicknamed “Ethel” to the pick-up he called “Fred” and, with his wife and two English setters, began a journey from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska. His goal: to find out what holds such a diverse country as America together. Along the way, he runs into a cast of characters including a Native American shaman and a taco entrepreneur.
Road trip: For the most part, Caputo followed Lewis and Clark’s historic route up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, and down the Columbia River. The 17,000-mile journey isn’t feasible for most short-term travelers, but you can drive a section of the Lewis & Clark Trail Highway as it winds through 11 states, including Nebraska, Montana, and Oregon. Or, explore Alaska as Caputo did, on the Alaska Highway. Much of the highway snakes through British Columbia and the Yukon provinces in Canada. You may want to use Fairbanks as a base instead of making the entire 2,400-mile drive.
On one of the most unique road trips ever, journalist Michael Paterniti drives Albert Einstein’s brain, as it floats in a Tupperware bowl, from New Jersey to California to return it to the famous scientist’s granddaughter, Evelyn. With him is Thomas Harvey, the 84-year-old pathologist who performed Einstein’s autopsy – and kept the brain for more than four decades. The book is part travelogue, part memoir, and part biography.
Road trip: Although only parts of it remain, Route 66 seems like the perfect fit for a Driving Mr. Albert road trip: it’s quirky, and it reached its zenith in the last decade of Einstein’s life. Start in Santa Fe and continue south to Albuquerque, through Arizona and on to Santa Monica. Along the way, stop at the Painted Desert; visit Seligman, Arizona, the town that inspired the movie “Cars,” and pet the mules in Oatman, Arizona.
On her honeymoon in Italy, Jen Lin-Liu began wondering who invented the noodle or, more specifically, how it came to have such prominence in cuisines around the world. So, when she returned to China and her cooking school, the food writer decided to set out on the Silk Road, visiting home kitchens and restaurants from China through Central Asia, to Iran, Turkey, Greece, and finally Italy. At times, she is joined by her new husband, and she finds herself exploring her new role as a wife.
Road trip: It isn’t easy to recreate a noodle-centric road trip, but you can road trip on your own to noodle destinations across the U.S. To sample some of the best Chinese noodles in America, make a pilgrimage to San Francisco’s Chinatown. House of Nanking is known for its incredible Shanghai-style cooking and, of course, noodles. For great spaghetti, fettuccini, and other Italian noodles, head to New York City’s Little Italy. Any of the restaurants along Mulberry Street can satisfy your pasta cravings.