Summers growing up were invariably marked by my parents hitching our 1970s Starcraft pop-up camper to the back of the van and taking my brothers and me on a vacation around Minnesota and the greater Midwest. These family road trips, sometimes taken with extended family and friends, are among the fondest childhood memories I have carried with me into adulthood.
On a trip to the Black Hills in South Dakota, when we found out my brother’s friend had taken his dad’s deodorant on the trip with him, we jokingly mused how this innocent act could set off a spectacularly improbable chain of events that would lead from bad BO to global destruction, giving rise to a new favorite (albeit morbid) car game that must have worried our parents a little bit.
My cousin got a taste of regret on a road trip to Mackinac Island when he cashed in all of his vacation spending money at the general store at Burt Lake, Michigan, for a purple fuzzy marionette puppet. After ripping open the cellophane packaging and playing with it for about five minutes, he realized the grave mistake and begged the shop owner to make an exception to the shop’s strict “no returns” policy.
Today, I still love to take road trips, though they have become less about the destination and more about spending time cruising the highways and soaking in the country’s great plains, mountains, and red rock desert landscapes.
But sometimes, the destination is what a road trip is all about. That was certainly the case for deputy editor John Garland’s trip to Sparta, Wisconsin, where he toured a moldyard filled with the ghostly shapes of notable roadside attractions built by FAST Corporation. Other times, the destination is secondary. For writer Sarah Ratermann Beahan and her husband, who spent 112 days on the road searching for a new home with no firm destination in mind, the journey was entirely the point. And for people like Minnesota highway historian Andrew Munsch, it’s the miles of literal pavement that hold meaning.
Whatever element of road tripping brings you joy, we hope these stories call to mind past trips that have stuck with you and inspire you to hit the road on a new adventure. Safe travels!
A Roadside Diversion That Makes Roadside Diversions
It’s a meta wonderland at the FAST moldyard
By John Garland
We quit our jobs, sold our house, and spent 112 days on the road
By Sarah Ratermann Beahan
Roads to the Past
One man’s mission to document Minnesota’s historical highways
By Brendan Kennealy
By Lauren Sauer
Get in the Van
VanGo Automotive’s vintage camper van rentals are one-size-fits-all
By Zach McCormick
Visiting 8 destinations around the state immortalized in song
By Kayla Song, The Current
This month: “Give Me A Sign”
By Victor Barocas and Andrew J. Ries
5 Weekend Drink Destinations in the Midwest Worth a Road Trip
By Terry Horstman
Brewer Profile: Stuart Long, Voyageur Brewing Company
Bringing Southern California to Northern Minnesota
By Ellen Burkhardt
Spirits Close-Up: The Minnesconsin Old Fashioned
A Compromise Cocktail Recipe
By Zachary Sapato
Wine Time: The 20/20 Rule
Chilling all wines (yes, all) to get the most out of the bottle
By Matt Wieland
What We’re Drinking
By The Growler Staff