Few New Jersey commuters think of Interstate 80 as the conduit to grand adventure. And for those who do contemplate the transcontinental journey on I-80 — its western terminus is San Francisco — the long Midwestern slog through days of corn fields may seem less exciting than the southerly route through deserts and canyons.
That may sound romantic to those who know the lovely park at heart of Paris’s Marais quarter. But when I say I spent the night, I don’t mean that I slept in a plush hotel in the trendy Jewish district. I spent that night on a damp, uncomfortable bench by a fountain, because I had missed the last metro of the evening back to my hotel and had decided it would be interesting to wander all night in the City of Light. And around 4 a.m. — after hours spent strolling the quiet boulevards, pressing my nose against the glass of darkened boutiques and bakeries — I finally collapsed on that bench and dozed until the sky turned pink.
Heading off Interstate 95 just north of the Connecticut border, I drove recently along curving, two-lane byways through a thick summer forest, with little more in view beyond the occasional road sign. I kept heading south, and gradually the forests thinned out a bit; seagulls began to appear, along with wild pink roses and those bushy, stunted oaks you see near salt water.
This is not an easy month to be a Spaniard. The vaunted national soccer team, which won the last two major international tournaments, just suffered an ignominious first-round ouster from the World Cup. The royal family is in turmoil as well: public support is at a nadir, with the princess facing legal troubles and the king having just abdicated.