Destination Unknown

Summer’s here, and the time is right for riding down the street

Perhaps it’s just a fluke, but with the world heading the way it has been and peak oil looming on the horizon, cheap gasoline might soon be a thing of the past.

That might not be such a bad thing for our cities and towns, which have suffered the indignities of a car-centered lifestyle for far too long, but it can’t really be a positive development for that great institution, the road trip.

Even with gas prices so high, piling a bunch of friends into the jalopy and lighting out for the bright lights of the coast or the starry skies of the backcountry is still a reasonable alternative to the body-cavity-search paranoia of today’s airports.

And there’s really nothing more redolent of the great days of youth than tearing off with half a plan and a full tank, just to see where you might end up. Whole books have been written about it.

This summer, there are a million and one things to do and places to go. They vary from the nearby and easy-to-drive-to attractions of state parks and minor metropolises to the legendary treks across the big, wide, flat states that always end up spawning stories of speeding tickets and chance coincidences that will be remembered for decades.

And you never realize quite what heaven you’ve experienced hurtling down the freeway, smelling several friends while your leg cramps slowly, slowly under the seat until that day, years later, when you look up from your cubicle and wonder if you ought to just walk out right then.

In the center of this section are a few brief notes about some interesting places you could go this summer. Of course, this isn’t supposed to be an exhaustive catalog of fun times and great trips. Whether you’re in Butte, Mont., or Schenectady, N.Y., it’s always up to you to make your own fun. If these brief thoughts on road-trip fun get your mind free-associating, we will have done our job. If not, you have no poetry in your soul, and there’s probably not much that can be done for a sad sack like you at this late date.

Of course, every trip has its pitfalls. From forgetting to pack a shirt other than the one you’re wearing to missing your flight by several hours because of a misread ticket, travel carries some inherent risks.

Please note the sidebar, which holds the gleanings of several years of road trips, some of which might save you a little aggravation – not that you’ll ever remember everything.

That’s where a sense of adventure and a can-do attitude come in very handy. Tracking down an elusive car part in a strange city isn’t always the jolliest time, but it certainly does focus your attention on the here and now. And any job that’s too picky to let you miss an extra day or two because you got stuck in a little town three states away is one you’re probably better off not having.

The best part of a trip changes from person to person and time to time. It could be the journey, and it could be the objective. The trip out might be terrible, only to be made up for by an amazing return leg. Even an expedition in which everything goes wrong will make for some great stories once you’re back at home with a long sleep and a hot shower between you and the worst of it.

So take off, go, alight, set out, drive away, mount up, get in motion and find the adventure with your name on it.

MGM Wine & Spirits, Hilltop, Minn.
A select percentage of any population was born with an insatiable wanderlust. These misfits dreamt of traveling cross-country even before they saw “Thelma and Louise.” They’ve possessed a dog-eared copy of “On the Road” since adolescence, even though they despise the Beat Poets. Car commercials make them cry, simply because they long for the independence and unpredictability of the road … and the road trip.

If you empathize with these modern-day nomads, plan your own pilgrimage to a little place called Hilltop, Minn. – population 766.

Road trips require preparation and aren’t for the faint of heart. Sure, it was fun to fly by the seat of your pants while playing Oregon Trail on that Apple IIGS in second grade. But everyone knew they might as well be the Donner Party if they didn’t plan their voyage, step by step.

So, what’s in Hilltop? Why would an experienced road-tripper navigate County Road 65 (aka Central Avenue Northeast) through Columbia Heights, Minn., just to get to the village of Hilltop? In three words: the liquor store.

Sure, it looks like just another chain establishment selling wine and spirits next to Walgreens. But it’s open until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. That’s a full hour later than most liquor stores! If you’re known around campus for your crazy parties and devil-may-care demeanor, you usually have quite the shopping list of potent potables. You’ll find that extra time is invaluable.

Visit Hilltop this summer when the time is right. A June weekend near the summer solstice will be perfect. Bring a journal to document every detail of the trip. And maybe I’ll see you, fellow road-tripper, in Hilltop.

MGM Wine & Spirits is at 4864 Central Ave. N.E. For more information, call (763)571-5149.

– Erin Adler

Arcosanti, Ariz.
What if we lived in a world in which everyone worked together to solve problems, the benefits of civilization were extended equally to everyone and human existence did not depend on destroying our planet’s fragile ecologies?

That vision might sound impractical, but a concerted effort for it is under way in the high desert of Arizona.

Architect Paolo Soleri, once a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright, has developed a theory of “arcology,” that is, architecture plus ecology, which aims to miniaturize many parts of urban infrastructure so thousands of people can live happily and comfortably in the space that now houses only a few hundred.

Soleri’s test bed for his theories is Arcosanti, Ariz., a small-scale prototype for arcological living near Mayer, Ariz. The town is still being built and is financed by donations and the sale of bells made using Soleri’s “earth-casting” method of construction.

Not every road trip offers a glimpse of futurity. Visiting Arcosanti is an exercise in realizing the potential of people to change themselves and their environment in beneficial ways.

Tours of the project are given daily between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., on the hour, with a suggested donation of $8 per person. The Arcosanti Visitor Center and Gift Gallery is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, except for major holidays.

To learn more about Soleri’s work, arcology and the Arcosanti experiment, visit

– Niels Strandskov

House on the Rock, Spring Green, Wis.
The House on the Rock is like discovering a secret attic in your grandparents’ house, filled with old dolls, costumes, and other strange and dusty antiques.

Designed by Alex Jordan, this architectural marvel – or disaster, depending on how you look at it – houses Oriental art, stained glass, rare books, giant fireplaces and much more, all in a twisted and bizarre building.

As the name suggests, the house sits on a large rock. Jordan designed the house to incorporate the look of the rock, which explains the strange angles, like the Weisman Art Museum.

The house is divided into rooms, each stranger than the previous.

The Infinity Room is almost entirely made of glass, with 3,264 windows. It looks across and below into the Wyoming Valley. Other rooms include the Cannon Building, the Doll House Building and the Circus Building, as well as themes such as “Music of Yesterday” and “Heritage of the Sea.”

A definite must-see is the carousel room. The world’s largest carousel seats 269 passengers on handcrafted animals, all unique and none a horse. The carousel is 80 feet wide and dazzles riders with more than 20,000 lights.

The House on the Rock is certainly kitschy – don’t go without a sense of humor – but that’s what road trips are all about.

For more information, visit

– Keri Carlson

Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago White Sox, Chicago
There’s no better way to spend a summer evening than at a baseball game. There’s nothing like hearing the crack of the bat and cheering for a double play or a home run.

But this summer, don’t just hop on a bus and head to the Metrodome. Instead, pack up that baseball glove and Twins T-shirt, grab a couple friends, and head down to Chicago to watch the Twins take on the White Sox in a three-day series that runs Aug. 15-17.

It’s a 400-mile trip to U.S. Cellular Field from Minneapolis, so leave early to ensure everyone is still speaking to one another by the opening pitch.

Sports rivalries are always entertaining, so have fun stirring up some trouble – but not too much trouble – by wearing Twins gear to a White Sox home game. The Twins and the White Sox are the top two teams in the American League Central Division, so wearing Twins gear in Chicago should elicit a feeling akin to Badgers fans who sit in the student section at a Gophers home football game.

Tickets are only $7 and up per game, so it should be no problem to combine two of the greatest American pastimes into one event. A road trip to a baseball game with some friends should make some great stories to tell when school starts. Visit for tickets.

– Katrina Wilber

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2005, Manchester, Tenn.
If you’re looking for outdoor music and a chance to hit the road with some friends this summer, Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2005 is the place to be.

Bonnaroo is on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tenn., with eight stages set up for live music.

Jurassic 5, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, Modest Mouse, The Allman Brothers Band, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters 2005, Jack Johnson, O.A.R., Rilo Kiley and other bands will take the stage June 10-12 at Bonnaroo this year.

In addition to impressive music, Bonnaroo offers various activities to keep you entertained when your ears need a little rest.

For example, one area of Bonnaroo is the Brooer’s Festival, which is reserved for people who enjoy good beer.

There is also a comedy tent and a playground set up for children or, let’s face it, you.

For more information about Bonnaroo’s bands and activities, check out its Web site at

– Claire Joseph

Original Hip-hop Cultural Reality Sightseeing Tour, New York
This road trip demands intense preparation. Like you were in “Rocky IV” or something.

You’re going to the birthplace of hip-hop: New York. And you can’t be acting the fool when you run up in there.

You’re going on the Original Hip-Hop Cultural Reality Sightseeing Tour. No joke. This tour really exists. On it, you’ll spend the day with a rap legend as he takes you on a guided bus tour of hip-hop’s pioneering landmarks.

But first, the preparation. Don’t worry, though, it’s a long drive to the East Coast. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare to hang out with the likes of Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Caz, of the Cold Crush Brothers.

First, flip through your record collection and pull out all your classic hip-hop albums. You’ll need Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full,” Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic,” Nas’ “Illmatic” and a few others. If you’re serious, bring some early Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One.

Oh, you’ll want some reading material too. So pick up Jeff Chang’s book “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-hop Generation.”

After the lengthy drive and the intensive homework session, you’ll be ready to show off your hip-hop knowledge on the tour. On the bus ride, a hip-hop pioneer will take you to such famous locales as the Graffiti Wall of Fame, Rucker Park and other hot spots.

You can read and listen to all the rap music you want, but there’s nothing like learning about hip-hop culture from the people who created it.

For more information or to reserve tickets, visit or call (212)209-3370.

– Tom Horgen

Hunting Island State Park, S.C.
The purpose behind some road trips is the epic quest to find something memorable and exciting.

Consider this a road trip to find yourself.

Off the coast of South Carolina is a most unexpected, tranquil and relaxing island hideaway. It’s called Hunting Island State Park, and it serves as the ideal getaway from the buzz of daily life.

It’s a place to reflect upon and recoup from the last hectic semester.

Located on the southern tip of South Carolina’s coast, approximately 16 miles east of Beaufort, S.C., the island is a 5,000-acre nature preserve, with four miles of semitropical beaches and a sprawling wooded area perfect for camping.

Unlike the manic nights in other coastal places such as Panama City Beach, Fla., Los Angeles or Jacksonville, Fla., Hunting Island is the place to go to reconnect with nature. It’s the place to turn the cell phone off, get some sun, make s’mores around a crackling campfire and take in the stars as the waves crash onshore nearby.

And if you still want a bit of the memorable or the exciting, why not swing by Milwaukee, St. Louis or Atlanta on the way?

If you take Interstate Highway 94 en route to South Carolina, stop at Milwaukee’s new, wondrous, Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum on the shores of Lake Michigan. If, instead, you take Interstate Highway 55 south, swing by St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.

For more information. visit or call (843)838-2011.

– Steven Snyder

Photos Courtesy Uzair Ahmed Quraishi;; The Minnesota Twins; Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival; South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism; Hush Tours