Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

Healthy, free, the world before me…

Strong and content I travel the open road.

Happy times are here again, harking back to Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. Between Thursday and Monday, an estimated 37 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles from home, a 60 percent increase from that recorded a year ago.

“Americans are demonstrating a strong desire to travel this Memorial Day,” stated the American Automobile Association (AAA). “This pent-up demand will result in a significant increase in Memorial Day travel, which is a strong indicator for summer.”

For the 34 million taking a road trip, the most popular destinations are Las Vegas, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Denver, and Nashville. For all travel modes, including flying, the most popular visiting spots are Orlando, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Anchorage, and Colorado Springs.

Add to those, all the countless less-visited spots in between, and Whitman’s song seems apt.

Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,

Strong and content I travel the open road. 

Higher Gas Prices

Motorists will pay the highest motor-fuel prices in seven years, due in part to the lingering effects of the Colonial Pipeline outage. The current national average near $3.00 per gallon is a dollar more than the price a year ago, when the Pandemic was repressing demand.

Nevertheless, “we don’t expect higher gas prices to deter motorists this holiday season as many Americans are eager to travel,” said AAA. “We typically find when pump prices increase, travelers look for more free activities or eat out less while on vacation, but still take their planned trips.”

Motorists may accept this year’s driving cost as a given, but any major Green New Deal-driven increases in the future are sure to be noticed. Consider “green” California’s average gasoline price of $4.17 per gallon, more than one-fourth above the national average and one-third above that in Texas. That’s politically fraught, as Barack Obama found out back in 2012.

Politicians be warned: Leave the price of the open road affordable—or pay a price at the polls.

A Year Ago

Last year, the American Automobile Association did not release a Memorial Day forecast for motorists and others travelers. It was as if, for car travel, the Green New Deal had already happened, with travel down by two-thirds in the peak Pandemic period, as I noted a year ago.

But many Americans substituted, as best they could. Though car travel dropped significantly, sales and rentals of recreational vehicles (RVs) surged. This year, with social interaction returning to normal, it’s back into our cars and trucks, not only the RVs.


A return to normalcy is bad news to the foes of modernity and mechanized movement. “Driving is ruining our lives, and triggering environmental disasters,” wrote George Monbiot two years ago. “Only drastic action will kick our dependency.” He added:

Let’s abandon this disastrous experiment, recognize that this 19th-century technology is now doing more harm than good, and plan our way out of it. Let’s set a target to cut the use of cars by 90% over the next decade…. It is time to drive the car out of our lives.

Fear not. Get your kicks on Route 66 or wherever the open road takes you. This is the natural state of affairs, which will overwhelm the energy authoritarians. As Daniel Yergin noted in The Prize several decades ago:

Hydrocarbon Man shows little inclination to give up his cars, his suburban home, and what he takes to be not only the conveniences but the essentials of his way of life. The peoples of the developing world give no indication that they want to deny themselves the benefits of an oil-powered economy, whatever the environmental questions. Any notion of scaling back the world’s consumption of oil will be influenced by the extraordinary population growth ahead.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,

Going where I list, my own master total and absolute. 


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