Hello rubber tramps and all who wish they could be. I’m Bob Payne, also known to some of you as Interstate Bob. I hope you’ll join me on Interstate Bob’s Ultimate Road Trip, a 49,072-mile highway adventure around (and around) America.
As a bit of background, I’ve spent much of my life as a travel writer, visiting 140-something countries and seeing my stories appear in some pretty good publications, including Conde Nast Traveler magazine, where I believe I remain the only writer ever allowed to put the cost of a Polynesian tattoo on an expense account.
But now I’ve decided to settle down, which to my mind means taking the time to see more of my own country. And I have begun with Interstate Bob’s Ultimate Road Trip.
I am driving all 49,072 miles of America’s Interstate Highway System, of which I’ve already done 20,411.
But looking for driving adventure on the Interstate? I know some eyes are rolling, because I’ve done the Blue Highways and Travels with Charley thing, too. And I remember totally agreeing with Charles Kuralt, the On the Road storyteller for CBS beginning back in the late 1960’s, when he said, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
Consider this point of view, though. Sure, it is possible to travel anywhere without seeing anything. Most people do it all the time. But if you look closely enough, in the desert, on the ocean, along the Interstate, you’ll find life, and drama, and sometimes even beauty.
To see all that, I’m looking most closely at the people I meet along the way, because one thing I’ve learned in all my travels is that everyone — whether they are taking a break from working behind a fast-food counter, or picking up the pieces of a sofa that has just blown onto the highway from out of the back of their pickup truck — has a story to tell that we all can almost always benefit from listening to.
I hope you’ll come along and listen with me.