The Best of Andy Rooney

Fourth on my list of things I'd like to do, but doubt I ever will, is to drive across the United States and back. I want to do it right. I don't want to get anywhere. I just want to look at America...out of the city.

While I'm dreaming, I'd like to do it in a car that's bigger and more luxurious than ours. I've never been in a Rolls-Royce. That would be nice. We'll have a big cooler with ice in back.

I read once where a Rolls gets only eight miles a gallon, but on long drives it's nice to have to stop for gas.

It will take at least a month because we're not going to stay on the main roads and we're not going straight across. We'll hurry when it's dull, but if I see a town or a place on the map that we want to go to, I'm going to go there, even if it involves driving several hundred miles up or down when we're supposed to be heading across. After we'd finished, the grease pencil line marking our route on the map would look as if we'd tacked across the country against the wind in a sailboat.

I only want to see small towns. Most of us think of ourselves as small-town people, even though we live in a big city. We like the idea of living in a small town, but from a distance. We move to the city.

We'd drive 600 or even 700 miles some days, but then there'd be days we wouldn't make 100 miles. If we got to a little town we liked, we'd stay for a few days. We'd have breakfast at the diner and spend some time in the hardware store so we got to meet people. I'd like to drop in and talk to the people at the local newspaper. I like newspaper people. We'd talk about how bad the news is on television.

Starting south from New York, I'd stay a little west of Philadelphia and Washington because I've seen them and I've seen most of the coastal areas all the way to Florida. I'd like to see more of the back country of Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. I'd turn right just before I got to Florida, above the armpit on the Gulf Coast, and drive west.

We'd stop short of the Pacific Ocean and drive up through central California to the eastern part of Oregon and Washington. Maybe I'll break my big city rule and stop in Walla Walla before turning east to drive through Idaho, Montana and the Dakotas.

I'll have the oil changed in the Rolls somewhere in Montana while we have lunch. Missoula, maybe. I knew a great fighter pilot named Hubert Zempke from Missoula. I'll see if he's still there.

From Missoula way over to maybe Duluth looks like five days on the map. I think I can drive from Duluth on a sort of peninsula where Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron converge to Sault Ste. Marie. I don't want to miss Sault Ste. Marie. I love saying it.

From Sault Ste. Marie, we'd have to come straight south to about Columbus before going east again. If you don't, you're in Canada. Canada isn't what we're doing.

I don't know what to do from Ohio east. I know the territory.


(This a classic Andy Rooney column originally published April 26, 1993.)

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