There’s no shortage of fantastic entertainment in Winnipeg between April and September, but for those that feel the need for a change of scenery, few forms of adventure rival the road trip.
Sure, air travel will get you there quicker, but four to 10 hours in the air hardly provides the same opportunity for bonding with your mates as countless hours in an increasingly smelly, greasy car.
Plus you can’t exactly ask your pilot to pull in to the next gas station for a hearty lunch of gummy worms and Red Bull.
Whether you’re looking for a month-long tour of debauchery or a two-day sightseeing excursion, a road trip gives you greater options, better value for money and more photos of people sleeping with their mouths open than any other form of transport.
Get your motors running.
The Gulf Coast and Southern States
The Southern U.S. gets its fair share of bad press and negative stereotypes, but it’s really not all rednecks, hurricanes and oil spills.
“There’s a lot of really conservative media down there, but the people in general are really just welcoming and open to everything,” says Hart Koepke, 23, who recently drove 12,000 km on a month-long trip from Winnipeg to Texas, Louisiana, Nevada and California.
If that sounds like a long drive, it is. And he did it all alone. Splitting the 24-hour-long drive into three days, Koepke says he found ways to pass the time.
“I’m not a country fan, but eventually I just found myself learning all the words to country radio,” he says.
After camping on the beach in Texas for a few days, Koepke spent a week and a half in New Orleans before driving to southern California, where he stayed in Slab City. From there he went to Las Vegas before making his way home.
Koepke says New Orleans was his favourite stay and that Las Vegas wasn’t what he’d hoped.
“It’s not the good type of debauchery,” he says. “It’s dirty debauchery.”
Koepke spent $3,500 over the entire trip, but says that he spent a lot in New Orleans while he was spending $20 or less per day while camping during the other parts of his trip.
The Windy City is a long lost cousin of our own in many ways. It’s also closer by car than either Toronto or Montreal and gets the kinds of concerts that Winnipeggers can only dream about.
Emily Hamel, 21, went to Chicago with a friend in November to see YouTube sensations Team Starkid perform their Harry Potter musical.
Splitting the 16-hour one-way trip between two drivers, the three-day trip was a bare-bones affair. Their brief taste only left them wanting more.
“Chicago is such a beautiful city and we didn’t really get to see anything,” Hamel says. “But we want to go back and actually see Chicago.”
Despite her short stay in America’s third-largest city, Hamel says she got a sense that Chicago is a happening place.
“The people there were really friendly,” she says. “But everyone seemed like they were so on-the-go all the time. It was such a different vibe than Winnipeg.”
For around $250 in gas - for a Hyundai Elantra - and hostel accommodations for both Hamel and her friend, Chicago is well within reach of the determined concert-goer.
Musical acts that will be visiting Chicago but ignoring Winnipeg this summer include Death Cab for Cutie (April 16), Radiohead (June 10) and a whole raft of epic acts at Pitchfork Festival (July 13 to July 15) and Lollapalooza (Aug. 3 to Aug. 5).
Published in Volume 66, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 28, 2012)