America is a trip.
That doesn't mean an over-the-road journey from The Port of New York to The Port of Los Angeles. Nor is it a north-south ride on The City of New Orleans with the sons of Pullman porters and the sons of engineers. You might get your kicks on Route 66, but those kicks aren't in the miles covered.
The speed you travel, the encounters you remember, and the moments you cherish? That's the trip. Because America is not a matter of geography. It's the kind of trip Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda take while bearing "The Weight" of The Band.
The title On the Road isn't Jack Keouac's location; it's his jazz-addled observations:
And before me was the great raw bulge and bulk of my American continent; somewhat far across, gloomy, crazy New York was throwing up its cloud of dust and brown steam. There is something brown and holy about the East; and California is white like washlines and emptyheaded - at least that's what I thought then.
Huckleberry Finn's adventure is not just a journey on the Mississippi; it is a life on the Mississippi:
We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a kind of low chuckle. We had mighty good weather, as a general thing, and nothing ever happened to us at all, that night, nor the next, nor the next.
I could go on with titles, quotes, and clips from cinematic and literary classics of The American Trip, but those three touchstones of Easy Rider, On the Road, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn provide enough fodder to explain the trip that is America. It is all there: Its Native-American past, its colorful grifters, its unhinged wild men, its racial tensions, its addiction to violence, and, of course, its spacious skies. You don't need to drop psychedelics when the biggest mind bend of them all is to simply follow the advice of Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild:"
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
It just needs you to make it happen.