I think I don't have to tell you guys how much I love traveling by train. (If there's any confusion, please review my trains topic.) However, in the interest of allowing my kids to form their own opinions, we decided to take them on a good old-fashioned American road trip!!!
At my last job in Switzerland, my American colleague and I used to love to swap culture notes with our Swiss colleagues! We explained to a Swiss colleague that getting a used car and driving around the U.S. is a popular adventure for young adults to take, but that the dream -- if you have a little more money -- is to fly to Europe, get a rail pass, and backpack all over. He told us that they have an equal and opposite adventure for young adults in Europe: normally you get a rail pass and spend a few months exploring all over Europe, but the dream -- if you have a little more money -- is to fly to the U.S., buy a used car, and drive cross country!
Naturally, I shouldn't be surprised. Getting in the car for a road trip was the economical family vacation I remember from my childhood, whereas (for me) railway travel was an exotic adventure! I guess it kind of depends on what you grew up with.
Why not take a road trip across Europe? Well, they don't have the (socialist) interstate highway system like here, so it's not nearly as convenient. It's the same as the reason why nobody dreams of exploring America cross-country by train: it may be theoretically possible to do it, but good luck! lol
I've heard that one of the motivations for setting up the (socialist) interstate highway system was a strategic one. Upon realizing how easy it is to wipe out a compact city with a nuclear bomb, the U.S. government decided to deliberately encourage sprawl in order to spread out the potential targets. This is a very real consideration, BTW. For example, if someone managed to take out Paris entirely, France would be in very serious trouble. That said, the disadvantage of the sprawl strategy is now becoming painfully clear: transportation through the sprawl net is incredibly inefficient, so if your energy supply is in question, then you're in very serious trouble.
Military strategy aside, our family's road trip was loads of fun for us and the kids (details and pics soon!) and we've arrived in our little apartment-for-the-semester in New Jersey.
p.s.: Sorry for being AWOL from the Internet while on the road. I didn't mean to post something controversial just before setting off, but I should have known that if I post any remark that's even obliquely critical of homeschooling, woah Nellie, watch out! ;^) But seriously, give me this evening to relax and get my family settled in, and I'll read all of the comments carefully tomorrow.