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Summer Drives of a Lifetime

Are We There Yet?

By KA Scott • July 21, 2016

Sunshine and longer days, and my mind wanders out to the open road. Every summer I plan a phantom route and mode of transportation. Right now I'm pretty keen on taking a VW Vanagon down the 101. Redwoods, North Beach, The Giant Dipper, Big Sur…fish tacos and saltwater taffy. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

For this dream trip, I got inspired by reading Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, and Tom Wolfe. Okay, and listening to lots of Grateful Dead. (They'll definitely put you in the mood for a summer road trip.)

This summer my Highway 101 fantasy has some competition though because the National Park Service turns 100 on August 25. How fun would it be to see how many National Parks you could check off your bucket list? Decisions, decisions.

Wherever you're headed this summer, here are some books to get you started?or at least daydreaming. Check out some of America's best-loved adventures, including some philosophical firsthand accounts from famous authors who have made the big east-west jaunt themselves.

Happy (Birthday) Campers

If you end up making the trek to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, don't miss NPR Road Trips: National Park Adventures (or the entire NPR Road Trips Series for that matter). From the grandest landmarks to more humble hangouts, it's a unique audio exploration of all things Park Service, with behind-the-scenes storytelling like only NPR can deliver. National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways

Drives of a Lifetime

From famous routes to lesser-known gems, the National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways offers up all kinds of adventure across all 50 states. Full of photos and four-color maps for every drive, it's a must-have reference for every nomad motorist.

Take a Left at the Dinosaur

There's camp, and then there's camp. Probably the most lauded lanes in America, Route 66 is an undeniable treasure trove of Americana. Narrated by author Tom Snyder, Route 66: Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion captures the real spirit of the "Mother Road" and its colorful characters, past and present, including 2,448 miles worth of maps, must-sees, and roadside attractions.

Stop the Car! The Most Scenic Drives in America, Newly Revised and Updated: 120 Spectacular Road Trips

Packed with travel-planning details, The Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 Spectacular Road Trips and its Newly Revised and Updated edition by Reader's Digest focuses on the most scenic stretches of the U.S. Easily get your bearings with 120 specially commissioned maps and many enticing photos. From when to go and places to stay to local lore and festivals?there's something here for every intrepid traveler.

On the Road: (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Go Further

For timeless road-trip reads with a more personal perspective, here's three of my favorites: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, and The Air-Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller. From mystical and magical to down and out, these soul-searching accounts of cross-country journeys aren't always pretty, but they're always thought provoking?and just as relevant today as when they were written.

What about you? Do you have a favorite road-trip book or author? How about a dream destination or must-see roadside attraction? (Big ball of string is still on my list!) We'd love to hear about it?and so would your fellow ThriftBooks readers!

Add your comments below, and show us your epic road trip pics: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

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