Los Angeles, CA -- This fall, travel writers Mary Herczog (Frommer's, Dummies) and Rick Garman (Moon Handbooks, Vegas4Visitors.com) , best friends for 17 years, will be hitting the road for what they hope will be the first edition of what they are calling "Plucky Survivors See America!"
The genesis for this trip came about as Mary and Rick tried to decide the best way to mark his upcoming 40th birthday. Trips to Greece and Italy were bandied about but concerns over cost, timing, and the lack of desire to sit for that long on an airplane led Rick to joke "Maybe I'll just go see the giant ball of twine in Branson, Missouri." "Cool!" said Mary. "Can I come, too?" That joke grew like the ball of twine itself, into the road trip you see here.
At first, the journey was heavy on kitschy roadside America, because if someone is going to build giant fiberglass dinosaurs, someone ought to go visit it. But as they examined potential routes and found more intriguing pitstops along the way, they began to see a deeper theme emerge, not only in the sights they were considering but in their reasons for wanting to take the trip in the first place.
As Mary finishes up chemotherapy after her third round with breast cancer and Rick stares down the barrel of his 40th birthday while dealing with his own serious health issues, both of them are facing (whether they admit it or not) deep questions of mortality, spirituality, and what kind of impact they may have had during their time on this planet. In short, if it all ends tomorrow, what will they leave behind? What will be their legacy? And that brought them to contemplate what have other people done to ensure that they have a legacy of their own.
Looking along their proposed route, Mary and Rick saw examples of personal legacies, accomplishments both great and small, from the sublime to the ridiculous and even ubiquitous. From the halls of Graceland to the Britney Spears Museum, from the Bonnie & Clyde death site to the place where four little girls were killed by a racist's bomb in 1963, from giant statues of Christ to tiny replicas of entire towns, from the library of a president to the library of a woman who wouldn't sit at the back of a bus--and of course, the giant ball of twine--each of these was created for or by someone who had something to leave behind. Even if, in the end, all they are remembered for is "why on earth would they do that?"
But Mary and Rick's trip goes beyond just a sightseeing journey. In many of the stops along their route there will be festivals and events that demonstrate the multi-layers at the heart of America. There's a Zydeco festival in Louisiana, a blues festival in Arkansas, a labor day parade and small town celebration in Missouri, and more. Mary and Rick want to see these special events and meet the people who take part in them, because what are behind legacies but people?
Mary and Rick will be traveling more than 2,300 miles across the central southern region of the United States, from New Orleans north through Louisiana into Arkansas and Missouri, then back south through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama this September. You will be able to read daily updates here on this website as they blog their way across the highways and byways of America. For more information about the proposed route, click on any of the links on the left hand side of this page.
Plucky Survivors See America will begin on September 1st, 2006.