Retrace Jack Kerouac’s steps from ‘On The Road’ with Google Maps

retrace jack kerouacs steps road google maps screen shot 2014 03 12 at 27 14 pm

The 25th birthday of the World Wide Web might’ve stolen the show today, but it also happens to be the birthday of one of the most celebrated authors in American history — the late Jack Kerouac. Today would have been his 92nd birthday. 

If you haven’t read his most famous book, On The Road, you’re missing out. It chronicles Kerouac’s debaucherous travels around North America with his friend Neal Cassady during the 1940’s, and while it’s definitely not for everyone, it’s arguably one of the most provocative, inspiring, and significant works of American literature to be published in the last century. If you haven’t read it, you should at the very least be aware of it. When Kerouac composed the first draft in an amphetamine-fueled burst of creativity, it was typed out as one long, single-spaced paragraph written on eight sheets of tracing paper that were later taped together to form a 120-foot long scroll — a sustained stream of dreamy, frenetic consciousness.

But instead of simply reading about Dean and Sal’s exploits, you can now retrace their steps and live out your own experiences on the road with On the Road for 17527 Miles, a book by Gregor Weichbrodt that condenses Kerouac’s 320 page-novel into the essentials — a series of precise directions provided by Google Maps.

Going through On the Road with a fine-toothed comb, Weichbrodt took the “exact and approximate” spots to which the Kerouac traveled, and entered them into Google’s Direction Service. “The result is a huge direction instruction of 55 pages,” says Weichbrodt. “All in all, as Google shows, the journey takes 272.26 hours (for 17,527 miles).”

To help you retrace the route, Weichbrodt’s book is composed in such a way that the chapters match up with those of Kerouac’s original, and not only includes the turn-by-turn directions, but also helpful road information.

And of course, if you’d rather not burn up all that gas money, you could always just follow the directions via Google Street View and take the whole trip without ever leaving the couch — but that’s not very Kerouac-like and adventurous, now is it? 

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