Taking The Great American Road Trip, Google-Style Two buddies wanted to embark on the timeless American tradition of a cross-country road trip, but these days even the cheapest ways of traveling have become a bit of a luxury. That's not stopping them from seeing the country — though they're not leaving home to do it.
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Taking The Great American Road Trip, Google-Style

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Taking The Great American Road Trip, Google-Style

Taking The Great American Road Trip, Google-Style

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DAVID GREENE, host:

Marc Horowitz and Pete Baldes are buddies who wanted to take part in that all-American pastime, the cross-country road trip. But of course, driving coast-to-coast consumes both time and your bank account. And so, Marc and Pete devised a cheaper alternative.

They're sort of traveling - from Horowitz's place in Los Angeles to Baldes' place in Richmond. See, it's a virtual trip. They're using Google Maps, and they are streaming this entire road trip in real-time.

Mr. MARC HOROWITZ: We're right now in downtown Amarillo. And we're getting back on the freeway here to get to Oklahoma City, which we hope to make it to very soon. I feel like we're going the wrong way, though.

GREENE: And they join us now from their homes and - I guess, guys - from your virtual road. Paint a picture for me. You guys both on your computers just kind of talking back and forth and seeing stuff while you're, you know, loading up Google Map images?

Mr. HOROWITZ: Well, here's the situation. So what happens is we're using a program - or a site, rather, called ustream.tv to stream the video live. And so basically, we drive by just zooming in on the map, on Google Maps, all the way, and then pressing the arrow key on the computer to go east.

GREENE: What are some of the highlights, so far, that you've seen on this virtual road trip?

Mr. PETE BALDES: We've ridden roller coasters. We took a tour of the Hoover Dam underneath. We saw the electrical rooms. We went on a helicopter flight in the Grand Canyon.

Mr. HOROWITZ: And a mule ride.

Mr. BALDES: Mule ride.

GREENE: How do you do a mule ride? You pull up, like, images someone had of actually doing the mule ride?

Mr. HOROWITZ: Yeah, well...

Mr. BALDES: We'll go to YouTube and search for a video in that area.

GREENE: Well, Marc, let me ask you, part of the fun of traveling is never knowing who you're, you know, going to come across. I mean, have you guys had the chance to talk to other humans on this, during this travel?

Mr. HOROWITZ: Yeah. So basically when we're streaming, there's a live chat room, and people can just come in and out. And on average we've had about 30 people -or 30 passengers with us. And so people are telling us constantly, like what to do and what to see along the way, which is awesome.

Like, for example, we stopped at the Petrified Forest. And I've actually been there in real life. And we stopped virtually, and I learned more and had a better time.

GREENE: Can this ever really be a substitute for, you know, the real thing? I mean, are you guys actually talking seriously about maybe doing this the real way at some point?

Mr. HOROWITZ: Wow, we hadn't really discussed doing it the real way.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOROWITZ: I mean, that would be fun. We actually discussed more - doing this more often. Like, I think once we get to Richmond, our destination, we're going to take a couple days and then head up to Maine on Google Maps road trip. So I don't know about in real life.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: Guys, Marc and Pete, thank you for doing this. And I guess, drive safely.

Mr. BALDES: Our pleasure.

Mr. HOROWITZ: Oh, yes.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: And for more on Marc and Pete's virtual adventure on the road, including a link to a live stream of their Google Maps road trip, go to the WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY page on the new npr.org.

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