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Americans have an ongoing love affair with the car and great open road.

To Americans, there’s nothing that holds more appeal than the classic road trip. It’s built into our cultural DNA dating as far back as the 1920s. In Jazz Age America, the car was a symbol of freedom — a chance to escape your small town and the watchful eyes of parents. It allowed men and women to sneak off together in a way never possible before. As the highway system was developed in the 1950s, a wave of kids set out on the road to explore the country, giving new life to America’s car and road trip culture.

And no road trip holds more mystery and allure than “the cross-country.” It’s the king of road trips. In 2006, as part of my original round-the-world, I drove across the United States before I went abroad. I left my home in Boston and spent close to two months traversing the country, getting as far west as Arizona before turning back east, driving across the Great Plains, and finishing in Chicago.

I wanted to get to know my country before I got to know others. But I barely scratched the surface of what the United States offered. I saw and experienced a lot — from the Rocky Mountains, to the Grand Canyon, Denver, post-Katrina New Orleans, and the Great Plains — but you don’t realize just how vast the country is until you’ve been driving for 12 hours and notice you’re still in Texas.

This country is big, and there is still so much more of it I want to see.

I decided to use the release of my new book as a chance to take another road trip across the country. From Memphis to Montana, Yellowstone, California wine country, Utah, Mardi Gras, and much more, it’s time to my gaze homeward and explore my own backyard again.

I have quite the long route in front of me:

Get the rest of Matt's Story HERE:

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