Jason Hussong has traveled to all seven continents. But nothing in his globetrotting past can prepare him for the expedition he's about to take when he hops in his car to visit America's national parks in a remarkable solo road trip. The Drive North chronicles Hussong's journey as he travels the country from Mexico to Canada, visiting what Wallace Stegner called "America's best idea"-from Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico to Canyonlands in Utah, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota to Grand Canyon in Arizona. And that's just for starters.
Along the way, Hussong paints a vivid and often hilarious portrait of the people and towns that dot the map. Here are the roadside diners, chain-hotel clerks, small-town hookers, cell phone dead zones and tourist-trap museums that make road trips so great-including an alien-themed S&M clothing store in Roswell, New Mexico. The endless landscape outside his windshield is at once bizarre, unexpected-and, most of all, beautiful.
Through it all, Hussong relives the family road trips from his childhood in the Beast-the hideous conversion van people-hauler-that kick-started his love of travel. What emerges is a searching, moving memoir of family, place, and growing up.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really believe there should be an obvious note to buyers whether a book is self-published, or published by a publishing house. This isn't to say that all self-published books are like the one I'm about to describe, but the fact that people can pay to publish their books means that they were not heavily scrutinized, professionally edited, and "voted" into publication by a team at a publishing house. Having the title of "author" on your resume used to be something that was earned, and not paid for. I can completely appreciate the purpose of this book, and its intention to highlight the beauty and power of national parks that all of us, as Americans, should care about and appreciate. A book about this topic, which is carefully crafted and written with an intriguing voice, should draw readers to care and want to visit these places for themselves. But I didn't find that in this book. It's clear that the author has done quite a bit of traveling, and also clear that he has read countless travel books. I think that he wrote what he thought people might want to hear, and I also think he was trying to mimic the voices of great travel writers -- all of that left the book without a true or genuine voice. I saw an attempt to be humorous at times, and an attempt to infiltrate the book with symbolism and witty language, but again, all I saw was an attempt to mimic the voice in other books that he has read. The Epilogue, in my opinion, was the most genuine writing in the entire book -- it's where he describes what has driven him to travel, a heartbreaking desire to relive memories of when he was a child traveling with his family. The other issue I had with this book was the editing. I don't know if it was edited by someone other than the author, but if it was, they didn't do a good job. The book was full of grammatical errors and awkward working. There were even made up contractions -- contractions that don't exist in the English language! This is just an example of what I mean, but the author would squeeze two words together with an apostrophe, creating a word that doesn't exist. For example, "...where are..." would be contracted to "...where're..." This isn't the exact contraction I noticed. I didn't make note of it at the time, but this is just an example of the jarring contractions made out of words that don't go together. I commend anyone who has the discipline to sit down and write a book. I think had the author let his true voice (found in the Epilogue) come out in the story, it could have made for a compelling read with a theme that pops into my mind -- forever chasing ghosts. Not only is he trying to relive the travel memories from when he was a child, but he's trying to cope with the loss of his mother, and somehow his travels are a way of feeling closer to her. See, had that been the opening theme, rather than a side note in the Epilogue, I think it would have entirely changed the flow of the story, and given the chapters a genuine voice. When people write, or artists create, what they THINK people want to read or see, the resulting product lacks focus and creativity, and disappoints. What makes a book or a piece of art compelling is when it is 100% genuine. People do see that! Artists and writers often allude to the pain they feel opening their hearts, describing the process of creation as bleeding out. It's not easy to expose your hearts and innermost feelings ... but it's what captures people's own hearts.