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My Next Big Trip(s)!

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Unveiling the historic sign for Route 66 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Spud Hilton, San Francisco Chronicle)

Long before I ever jet set to London or Tokyo, and long before I sailed the oceans or bussed to Antarctica, I went on road trips, with my parents.

Every summer we set off in our family van, rolling from one rest stop to the next, on to national parks and the beach and the mountains, discovering the vastness and wonder of America, mile by mile. For sure, road tripping across America is how I learned to travel and how I fell in love with my own country.

I learned to drive a standard transmission coasting the endless horizon of Nebraska. Road trips also taught me how to change a tire, what bison look (and taste) like, that some rocks are purple and red, and that the Mississippi really is a mile wide.

The great secret of America is that it is a huge place, from start to finish. It’s so big that too many travelers get lost in the fabulous labyrinth of New York City and never get to venture beyond the Hudson to all of our fifty amazing states, each of them so utterly unique and exciting . . . and different! Every state has their own flavor, and each boasts their own long history of exploration, which is still happening right now.

For the last 126 years, National Geographic has helped Americans discover the rest of the world. This year, we’ll be helping the rest of the world discover America. This week, I embark on my first in a series of Great American Road Trips. I am especially thrilled to be driving the entire length of America’s Historic Route 66, from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. The Mother Road represents the evolution of America as a nation, and I can’t think of a better way to see and experience my country then exploring this epic 2,488-mile highway.

I invite all of you to follow along (on this blog, and on Twitter) as I drive the entire length of Route 66, and then embark on a series of other Great American Road Trips in my own wonderful and exotic country, the big, bold and beautiful USA.

It’s going to be really fun.

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