Traveling the American Road: introducing AOL Travel’s Road Trip Across America

[Editor's note: Paul Brady has replaced Eva Holland as the pilot of the 2011 Explorer due to technical constraints. You can read his intro to the series here!]

There’s something powerful about the American road trip. It’s a travel tradition that’s steeped in history but re-made fresh every summer by families across the country. And it’s a standby in literature and pop culture – from John Steinbeck’s classic Travels with Charley to Smokey and the Bandit through to the recent foul-mouthed buddy comedy, Sex Drive.

In 2011, it’s time to refresh that tradition once again.

Times have changed since Steinbeck and his dog Charley made their way across the country 51 years ago. The interstate system has spread its web across the Lower 48. The internet age has arrived, complete with in-car GPS systems, a blanket of wi-fi and hundreds of travel apps. Gas prices have skyrocketed, and the country is clawing its way out of a brutal recession. But one thing hasn’t changed: A cross-country road trip is still the best way to get into America’s backyard, see its natural wonders and – most importantly – meet its people and tell their stories.Traveling the American Road will take me across the country in a 2011 Ford Explorer. I’ll visit national parks, historic sites, big-name tourist attractions and quirky roadside Americana, and meet the people who make them work. I’ll profile small towns and big cities in recovery, and write about life as a blogger on the road. With blog posts, video, photos, Tweets, Gowalla check-ins and more, I’ll aim to share America as I see it from the driver’s seat.

This is a dream trip for me. Even living north of the border in Canada, I grew up on stories of Route 66, Yellowstone and Yosemite, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. I’m looking forward to exploring the country by road, and I hope you’ll join me. Follow along on Twitter, Facebook and here on Gadling.

[Flickr photo via Wolfgang Staudt]