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Rental car is right for travel


Patriotism is building all across America. Families looking to rekindle their national pride are taking to the road to rediscover our historic American landmarks.

There's never been a better time to take a road trip to discover the beauty and history available in less frequently visited sites. From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, American attractions provide a rich appreciation of our heritage.

Along U.S. Highways 101 and 199 in Northern California, for example, national and state parks house some of the world's tallest trees: old-growth coast redwoods. The park includes scenic drives, nearly 200 miles of walking and hiking trails, redwood groves, rivers and streams, Native American history and 37 miles of pristine Pacific coastline.

The Gulf Stream offers a different experience. Head to Alabama's Gulf Coast where you'll find 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches, oatgrass-covered sand dunes, and sparkling blue-green water. There, you can explore the Gulf's historical, ecological, and outdoor activities or visit Fort Morgan perched at the entrance to Mobile Bay.

No matter what region is within driving distance, you can find fun and educational attractions to help you and your family rediscover American roots. Automobile lovers can motor on down to the Motor City to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in nearby Dearborn, Mich., where the rich history of the automobile in America unfolds.

Visitors armed with a modern GPS navigation system like Avis Assist can see the cars we drove, the cars we wished we could drive, and the diners, motels, and drive-in movies that we stopped in along the way.

Those interested in African American history can visit many historic places along the "Underground Railroad" that convey the courageous and inspiring stories of African Americans' journey to freedom. Load the kids up in a Ford minivan from Budget Rent A Car and create your own travel itinerary from the growing number of public and private sites listed with The National Register of Historic Places, such as the Harriet Tubman Home located on 26 acres of land in Auburn, N.Y., or the John Brown Farm and Gravesite in Lake Placid, N.Y., or even the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, Ind.

"There's no time like the present to pack up the family and head for the open road," says Ted Deutsch, spokesman for the Cendant Car Rental Group. "We are seeing demand for SUVs and minivans increasing as more families seek comfortable alternatives to the more traditional ways of discovering our American heritage."

Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. For nearly half a century, Route 66 was the chief commercial highway and main tourist artery to the West Coast. Though its glory days are now faded, you can still get your kicks on Route 66 in western Arizona and in eastern California. Starting from Seligman, Ariz., a 100-mile stretch of Route 66 curves through the Havasupai Indian Reservation to Kingman, Ariz.

Ninety miles west of Kingman, another 100-mile section of old 66 veers south through the Mojave Desert to the tiny community of Amboy, Calif. Our national anthem will be even more meaningful when you trace its history on a visit to Baltimore, Md. When Francis Scott Key saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry during the British invasion of the port of Baltimore in September 1814, he was inspired to write the "Star Spangled Banner."

You can see a replica of this flag at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House in Baltimore or spend a day at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, one of America's oldest seaports.

Back in 1941, President Roosevelt's famous Four Freedoms Speech to Congress inspired the great American artist and illustrator, Norman Rockwell, to create the Four Freedoms paintings. Today these paintings, along with 570 other original paintings and drawings, are housed at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., just a 2 hour ride from Boston or New York.

Wherever you go to celebrate our national heritage, be sure to buckle up and drive safely.

  • Spangler's Photography
  • Schaefer's Hobby Shop Inc.
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