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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Life is a highway

By Brenna Bray
Staff Writer


Friday, March 18, 2005

Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Road” captures the exhilaration of a good road trip: “Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road. Healthy, free, the world before me … Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, strong and content, I travel the open road.” Whitman must have had some great spring break road trips in his day! In his honor, we’ve prepared a guide to help you rock an equally exhilarating road trip for this year’s spring break.

All Revved Up With No Place to Go?

Roadtripusa.com lists 11 different road trip routes across America, and three of them pass through Minnesota.

“The Great River Road” follows the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana. From Mark Twain to Showboat, the Mighty Mississippi has provided powerful imagery for some of America’s greatest artists and works. So, do what Huck Finn would have done if he’d had a driver’s license instead of a raft, and experience “Old Man River” yourself.

Not into river riding? US-2 follows the Great Northern Line through a variety of landscapes from Washington to Maine. So hop on “The Great Northern” and head east or west – see all the sights without setting foot in a sleeper train.

For all you old-school computer game fanatics, US-20 follows the famous “Oregon Trail” from Oregon to Massachusetts, minus the covered wagon.

Buy extra film at the general store – you’ll see Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Boston, Chicago, the baseball and rock ‘n’ roll halls of fame, odd museums, classic diners and maybe even a few 49ers.

Minnesota Magnets

Don’t want to leave Minnesota? Welcome your break with a drive to Duluth for Fitger’s 10th Annual Bockfest in the Courtyard of Fitger’s Brewhouse, March 17-19.

This German celebration of brats and – ahem – beer (to be drunk responsibly, off-campus, by those of age) boasts a Volksmarch on the Lakewalk, a Polar Bear Plunge, Stein races and Torte contests, campfires, lederhosen and live entertainment. Visit fitgers.com for directions and reservations.

If northern Minnesota seems too cold for spring break, try some southern attractions.

Darwin, Minn. boasts the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, 80 minutes east of the Twin Cities. Play Weird Al Yankovich’s song, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,” during the drive!

Belle Plaine, Minn., boasts the best bathroom break – a “five-holer,” 2-story outhouse. A skyway, which matches the house in height and painted paneling, connects the house to the second story. Just imagine the souvenirs!

Roadtripamerica.com has complete information on these and other local and national offbeat attractions.

Road Trip Check List

Great road trips aren’t made by the sites alone – the drive itself is half the fun, but it requires preparation. These guidelines will save you from country radio and roadside cuisine and help you prepare the perfect trip.

Don’t Snub Your Stomach

Food is pretty easy to figure out for a road trip. Car candy is nice, but don’t let it ruin your appetite or harm your health. Throw some fruit into your snacking routine. Prepare healthy snacks like string cheese, veggie sticks, fruit slices, cereal and trail mix. You can pick up your favorite candies on the way, but be conscious of your sugar intake, because you’ll have to stay seated in the car – even when you get a sugar buzz.

That said, let’s indulge in the sweet subject of snacking.

Molly Buchholz ’06 popped peanut M&M'S on her spring break road trip to Florida last year.

“They satisfy your chocolate craving, while at the same time providing a decent amount of protein,” Buchholz said.

Chocolate doesn’t satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, however.

“I like those giant jawbreakers best ... the huge ones. Gives me a project for the trip, ” Adrienne Boeder ’06, said.

But when it comes to snacking logic, Martin Refsal ’06, has the lowdown.

“Jawbreakers are too sugary,” Refsal said. “If you're taking a road trip, you'll obviously eat a lot of them, and you'll probably get a canker sore, which isn't cool.”

Candy considerations need to be made with the car’s environment in mind.

“Chocolate is bad for road trips because it melts so easily when it's in the sun,” Refsal, who drove to Florida last year with Buchholz and friends, said.

Whatever sweets suit your fancy, stock ‘em up and suck ‘em down. Just remember to bring a trash bag for your wrappers and seeds.

Stay Awake …

As serious college students, we all know how to manipulate our bodies and minds to stay awake.

On road trips, Ben Hande ’05 advocates coffee, loud music and talking.

“Make a rule that the person in the passenger seat has to stay awake with you,” Hande said.

Still, that midnight stretch is hard to conquer; caffeine remains the most reliable remedy.

For those who find coffee bitter, sweeteners, flavored syrups and specialty drinks mask the taste with sugar, but that can elevate blood-sugar levels and make sitting in a car excruciating.

Non-diet sodas run the same risk. Plus, the carbonation in sodas can cause bloating and weaken bone density, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

Coffee seems to be the best option. Try to keep it as black as the night you’re driving through.

Hydrate, Bathroom Break, Stretch, Rehydrate

Caffeine is a diuretic. It stimulates, but it also dehydrates, so intersperse your coffee with water.

Staying hydrated may require more bathroom breaks, but welcome them as opportunities to stretch.

This will prevent cramping and offer an opportunity to work off some extra energy. Schedule routine bathroom and stretching breaks and, if there’s no gas station in site, stop at a scenic overlook.

Think Comfortable

Consider temperature changes at your destination, and think layers.

"I love my Ole gear," Tori Van Buren '05 said. "Those baggy sweatshirts are great for layering."

Don’t overpack though – the more you bring, the less space you’ll have on the drive.

Safety Kit

A simple safety kit can save your trip from absolute ruin. Cell phones are a given, but don’t forget the charger and car adaptor. Also bring blankets, water, nonperishable food, jumper cables, spark plugs, tires and a first aid kit. Most car safety kits include flares or flare guns.

Finally, be sure that someone in the car knows how to use your safety tools; otherwise, you’re just as good as empty-handed.





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