When I turned sixteen, I used to cruise the countryside of rural North Carolina, past fields of cotton plants in bloom or sometimes crimson clover that stretched for miles. I imagined I was driving to California, the farthest away I could get and still be in the good, ol’ US of A.

In my thirties, I began taking my son on regular road trips. I was a single mom on a teacher’s salary, so we never had money to go far. The destination would be a small town with some bizarre claim to fame: the world’s largest frying pan or a famed flea wedding or the largest collection of Venus flytraps in the wild. It didn’t matter where we went. The road was the point. It gave us time to think and dream and talk.

I’m certainly not the only one who enjoys a leisurely drive to nowhere. While I was working on Les Stone Cold Killers, I took a virtual ride with a Peugeot full of French teens in this vintage era British Pathé film. The scenery was one of the inspirations for this scene:

Sparks had the luggage loaded and the top down in record time. When she put her foot to the gas, the car shot forward like a curled fist in a kid glove. In no time, they’d left the boutiques and beaches of the coastal resort towns behind, and they were cruising northward towards Bonhomme.