Elon Musk Plans Cross-Country Road Trip In Electric Tesla Model S

The man behind the electric vehicle company Tesla Motors (and the recently hyped Hyperloop idea) tweeted that he, his five kids and network of superchargers are ready for a cross-country road trip. The trip — stunt, if you like — could be another milestone in the viability of electronic vehicles.

Autoblog Green has the background:

Musk first proposed this trip back in May when Tesla announced an expansion to the Supercharger network. At the time, Musk said he wanted to retrace the route of a college road trip, but this time with his five children in the car. With the optional rear-facing seats installed the Model S can seat 7, if some are small enough. On Twitter, Musk said trip planning is done, and the six-day, 3,200-mile trip should only require nine hours of charging. He added, “At 1.5 hrs/day, we will only ever need to charge when stopping anyway to eat or sightsee, never just for charging itself.” But we assume he’s not including overnight charging in that time, since six Supercharger fill-ups – which can each provide three hours of driving – will not be enough for the entire coast-to-coast trip.

Interesting timing on Musk’s tweet: It came 56 years to the day that Jack Kerouac’s epic road trip novel “On the Road” was published.

Classic Travel Writing: Jack Kerouac’s ‘Lonesome Traveler’

While blogs take up most of my travel reading these days, every now and then I like to dip into an old classic. So on a recent flight to Washington DC to attend the Gadling bloggers summit, I read “Lonesome Traveler by Jack Kerouac.

This slim volume contains eight stream-of-consciousness essays in the style you’d expect from one of the leaders of the Beat Generation. For example, the author tells a friend:

“Deni the reason I followed the ship all the way 3,200 miles from Staten Island to goddam Pedro is not only because I wanta get on and be seen going around the world and have myself a ball in Port Swettenham and pick up on gangee in Bombay and find the sleepers and the fluteplayers in filthy Karachi and start revolutions of my own in the Cairo Casbah and make it from Marseilles to the other side, but because of you, because, the things we used to do, where, I have a hell of a good time with you Den, there’s no two ways about. . .I never have any money that I admit, I already owe you sixty for the bus fare, but you must admit I try. . .I’m sorry that I don’t have any money ever, but you know I tried with you, that time. . .well gaddam, wa ahoo, shit, I want to get drunk tonight.”

When you have a monologue like that, you know you’re in Kerouac territory. The posts range from his time hanging out with William S. Burroughs in Tangier to his jobs as a fire watcher and on trains and boats.

Sometimes the best travel writing is that which takes you back to a place you love, in my case old New York City before its seedy heart was cleaned up and dulled. Kerouac takes us on a tour of all the crazy Times Square spots where the Beats used to hang out while a cavalcade of oddballs passes by. Through all this blur of activity Kerouac wonders, “Why does Times Square feel like a big room?”

Wow, yeah! Times Square does feel like a big room, even fifty years later when I hung out there. That broad open space enclosed by four walls of skyscrapers with all the people coming and going has a strange homey, interior feel to it. A good travel writer can put into words what you’ve always felt about a place.

And Kerouac is a damned good travel writer. “Lonesome Traveler” is filled with quotable one-liners about booze, sex, solitude, trusting strangers, nature and just about everything else. The one that perhaps best sums up the Beat mentality is actually by Gregory Corso, who in the New York sequence says, “Standing on the street corner waiting for no one is Power.”

Not a bad summary of the attractions of travel.

Bookstores as a travel pursuit (part 2)

A few days ago Jamie talked about going to book talks and readings as a travel pursuit. So what about going for the bookstores themselves? It turns out there’s a word for these places: “destination bookstores.”

It can be as simple as a bookstore where visiting authors have signed their names on the chairs they sat in. Or a place like That Bookstore in Blytheville, Arkansas, the famous literary headwaters of native-son John Grisham. Or try City Lights in San Francisco, which attracts thousands of tourists a year who come to see the hangout of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

And for you New Yorkers, there’s the famous bookstore at Broadway and 12th Street, The Strand. It’s got something like 4 miles of shelve space–and it’s an unparalleled place for finding rare and out-of-print books. Of course, The Strand is also well known for feeding an entire army of homeless people who scrounge in recycle bins for books to sell to the store. (See this New York Times piece from last week profiling these entrepreneurs).

Check out nine destination bookstores here; if you’re lucky, one may be just around the corner.

Book inscriptions inspire travel, and make great souvenirs

I walked into the wrong bookstore in Granada, Spain last February, but I’m so glad I did. I was looking for an English-language bookstore on Calle Gracia called Metro, but instead I wound up at a different shop just a few doors down. Libreria Praga shelves mostly Spanish titles, but has a small section of used English-language books. A spine with Simon Winchester’s name caught my eye, and I was soon the owner of a used copy of The Professor and the Madman. This story about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary seemed like something I’d enjoy (which I did when I read it a few months later) but I bought the book simply because of the fascinating inscription I found written in blue ink on the title page:

August 18, 2003: For darling Maggie on her one hundred and fifty-sixth birthday from him who unabashedly adores her – U. David.

Actually, there is another short word scribbled before “U. David”, probably a first name or initial, but I can’t quite make it out. But what an interesting discovery, huh? Was it an inside joke between old friends? Or did someone really live for as many years as Hong Kong was under British rule? Highly unlikely. There is surely a backstory, and one that most likely will remain untold. But for a book-lovin’ traveler, this is one of the best souvenirs around.

If you’ve come across interesting inscriptions, consider submitting them to The Book Inscription Project, a neat online effort to collect special book messages found by readers worldwide. Two recently posted travel-inspired inscriptions on the site reminded me that I have to submit my Granada discovery. Take a look at these: First, a short note to a voyager about finding his special island, inside a copy of Vonnegut’s Galapagos. Second, a Christmas gift for a nomad — a copy of On the Road, the only book that moves as incessantly as he does.

Books move and messages get carried with them, from one reader to the next. What travel treasures have you found (or left for others) inside the front cover of a book?

Paying Homage to Kerouac in his Hometown

I’m just now beginning to catch up on all the press surrounding the recent 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Last week we posted about retracing the literary steps of main characters Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. This week we focus in on a specific location; Lowell, Massachusetts, the birth place of Kerouac.

In my opinion, it’s always fascinating to see where an author grew up and the surroundings which would later have such an impact on his writing style. These impressionable years of youth are usually the ones that turn an author introspective and fires up those creative juices.

Like most small towns, Lowell actively promotes their favorite son to attract tourists–despite his rather morally loose character and poor role model material. Visitors to the city of 105,000 can enjoy Jack Kerouac walking tours, Kerouac Park, and Edson Cemetery where the author is buried.

Perhaps the most notable reason to visit Lowell right now, is that the legendary scroll upon which he hammered out the first draft of On the Road is currently being displayed until October 14.