Got a fantasy road trip squirreled away in the imagination? Tiptoeing the spine of the Rockies? Tracing the shores of the Great Lakes? Driving US Route 1 the length of the Eastern Seaboard?
The fantasy jaunt of the American soul would have to be a ramble down U.S. Route 66 – in a tail-finned convertible a la Thelma and Louise – spanning the American hinterland from Lakeshore Drive, Chicago to Santa Monica, California. Ribbon of dreams beyond topography, it’s a tour de force through the atlas of American culture and experience, a highway toward redemption, fortune and renewal. Indeed, if the ‘69 Woodstock music festival had been twinned with that ‘Mother Road’ – say, in Tucumcari, New Mexico – it would certainly have ushered in the Millennium itself. Burning Man doesn’t even come close.
But that epic American journey, rich in history, lore and folly though it be, cannot hold a candle to what must be the mother of all road trips: A trans-Eurasian trek. The Silk Route version of that trip, the one tramped by the likes of Alexander the Great, Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, and by missionaries Buddhist and Nestorian, has been virtually impassable for decades given the season of wars raking Syria, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. But that very itinerary was still open in the summer of 1965, when my schoolmate companions and I set out with family friends in a Volkswagen sedan to retrace that storied track.
In the following series of blog posts based upon my journal, I propose an account of that 8,000-mile journey following the Silk Road from Northern India to the cities of Europe: the Mother of All Road Trips.