America’s Greatest Road Trip
Two friends, one vehicle, one trailer, one computer, one camera – that’s how America’s Greatest Road Trip began. Tom Cotter, writer, and Michael Alan Ross, photographer, began their Greatest Road Trip outside Summit Coffee right here in Davidson on May 3, 2022. Although Tom and Michael have collaborated on books about automobiles together, this adventure was about seeing “Main Street America.” Their journey was to be from Key West, Florida, to Dead Horse, Alaska, so the first leg of their trip was from Davidson to Key West.
The Ford Motor Company provided a Bronco, Airstream provided a trailer, and Hagerty Drivers Club provided financial support. With all in readiness, including two spare tires for the SUV and one for the trailer, Cotter and Ross began their 8,881 mile, six-week trip across America. Since Tom had never been to North Dakota and wanted to add it as the 50th state he has visited, the itinerary was not a clear diagonal across country.
In fact, there was no itinerary. Tom says they woke up each morning without knowing where they would be going. Their northerly trip was “as carefree as a kid on a bike.” Hagerty provides more detail about Tom’s trip.
Dead Horse, the ultimate destination, was a bit of a disappointment because it is “a factory,” a place with no residents, only oil workers putting in 12-hour days, who are there for three weeks, then three weeks away before returning. The Bronco ended the Road Trip there, but since no Ford dealership is nearby, Hagerty arranged for someone to fly up and drive it south to a dealership in Seattle.
When planning the trip, Tom decided to avoid interstates and cities. “Interstates,” he says, “have no individuality. Every exit looks the same.”
By driving back roads, they achieved their goal “to meet Americans in towns, to see what was going on in their lives.” To that end, their conversations were not about politics or national problems. People talked instead about their day-to-day tasks. Through such exchanges, Tom came away confident that “more binds us together than separates us.”
Tom is currently writing a book about the experience titled, America’s Greatest Road Trip, Key West to Deadhorse. It will include about 60,000 words and 250 of Michael’s photos. The book should be available from his publisher, MotorBooks, in fall 2023, and available on Amazon. You can also buy one at Davidson’s Main Street Books, where Tom hopes to give a talk and conduct a book signing next year.
Maybe Tom’s sense of adventure will inspire you to travel America’s blue highways.