The Illinois road ends on an island in the stream—a sandy, almond-shaped isle covered with tall and unbending trees. The first bridge is just one lane, so I wait for the light to change green, then rumble up and over the water onto the island. The second bridge is now closed to auto traffic, so I park in the empty lot and travel the next length of Route 66 on foot.

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge was built across the Mississippi River in 1929, but only joined Route 66 in 1936. The art of old engineering stands triumphant in a web of naked steel girders, angled up against the fading spring twilight. Step by step, I venture out onto the narrow plank of road that soars above the treetops and then out over the lavender shine of the fast water below.

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The Lincolns are having ham for dinner, which makes sense, because tomorrow is Easter. The pink plastic pork sits on an antique platter, surrounded by a dozen buttery biscuits fashioned from polyvinyl chloride. They look delicious. Seventy-five percent of the home is original, but the black silk top hat hanging in the hallway is not.…

“So, what do you remember about the road?” I ask. “Traffic!” laughs Jim, and the rest of the table echoes the word. “Traffic and more traffic! Real busy,” they add. “Narrow as hell,” says Harv, and his eyes stop, thinking back to that time in his life traveling down a road that no longer exists.…

I wanted a convertible— —a  red vintage convertible with shiny chrome rims and white leather seats. But the Enterprise at O’Hare didn’t have any of those. “You wanna Impala?” The guy asked, but it was white—and I’m allergic to renting white cars. One day on the road and white cars start looking like dirty underwear.…

There’s a piece of the road in the museum—square slabs of aged asphalt excised from west of Oklahoma City. I’ve never seen such a thing in a museum.  I have seen shrunken human heads and Tyrannosaurus teeth, polished suits of armor and a queen’s underpants, but never before have I seen a chunk of road…

Long before I ever jet set to London or Tokyo, and long before I sailed the oceans or bussed to Antarctica, I went on road trips, with my parents. Every summer we set off in our family van, rolling from one rest stop to the next, on to national parks and the beach and the…

Two flags hang in the garage: Cuba on the left, America on the right. In the middle of our group stands Luis Enrique González, dressed in a black Harley-Davidson T-shirt, his hair wrapped in a black bandana. Oversized motorcycles from yesteryear stand parked in a row—some red, one bright turquoise. “This one’s from 1938,” explains…

This National Geographic Expeditions Cuba Trip has offered a spectacular opportunity to meet Cubans on their home turf and share with them our own impressions of their country. Though we explored several other areas in Cuba, we began and ended our expedition in the capital, Havana. With 2.2 million inhabitants, it’s impossible to caption this…

We were walking in the same direction, but going different places. The old man carried a folded cloth sack, and I had my camera bag flung over one shoulder. He said hello first, and I reached out to shake his hand. His skin was mocha brown and paper thin—his body frail and his hair as…

New Havana

“I wanted to see Cuba,” explains one man in our group, “Before it changes.” We all nod in agreement, except for the two Cubans in the room, who simply smirk. “I’ve been hearing that for the last twenty years!” says Migdalia, our guide. And she’s right—I’ve been hearing (and saying) the same thing for the…