Monday, 7 March 2016

Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip

My car had its annual road-worthiness inspection yesterday morning and sadly she failed to pass muster, a repair job will be required to make her, in the words of Warren Oates’ GTO, a real road king again. The timing of the car test dovetailed nicely with a documentary I caught on PBS later in the day, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s 2003 film, Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip, a wonderful account of Horatio Nelson Jackson’s automobile journey across the United States, the first of its kind, made in the summer of 1903. Accompanied by expert mechanic Sewall Crocker and faithful pit bull Bud, Jackson set out from San Francisco on May 23rd and 63 days later arrived in Manhattan, conquering near insurmountable terrain, surviving inclement weather, and beating two other rival cars competing for the honor. It's a fascinating slice of oddball history, and yet, incredibly romantic too as Jackson's epic drive skirted around Idaho's Sawtooth mountains, along a rugged stretch of wilderness which became known as Craters of the Moon, and past such mythical place names as Bitter Creek and Cheyenne - the North American continent transformed into a vast landscape of imagination...


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