John Waters’s Favorite American Road Trip Is Predictably Surprising

ROADSIDE ATTRACTION Birdwatching at Beluga Point on the Seward Highway, near Indian, Alaska, in 2015.


Joshua Dudley Greer

John Waters

Filmmaker, actor and writer. His recent book, ‘Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder’ (Picador), is out in paperback.

Visiting the Tina Turner museum in Brownsville, Tenn., which I had no idea was there. I was going to Dollywood and Graceland, and it’s in-between. It’s kind of pitiful and in a little industrial park, not real grand, I promise you. It has her one-room schoolhouse from Nutbush, Tenn., which is nearby, a couple of her old costumes and no mention of Ike Turner at all. The two lovely women working there reminded me of people in the Liberace Museum, kind of like cult-member loyalists. They were so happy someone came in.

Rodney Scott

James Beard Award-winning chef and featured guest on ‘Chef’s Table: BBQ.’ His ‘World of BBQ: Every Day Is a Good Day’ (Clarkson Potter) arrives next March.

My friend and business partner Nick [Pihakis] and I road-tripped from Birmingham, Ala., to Louisville, Ky., in 2013. Wherever we saw a barbecue sign, we stopped, whether the place was huge or famous, or tiny and a hole in the wall. We would order one of everything off the menu. One of the most memorable stops was a place in Horse Cave, Ky. A lot of alcohol was involved—hey, we were on a tour bus. When the pork sandwich came, it was a slice of pork on white bread, something so unfamiliar to us! We had a blast.

Joshua Dudley Greer

Photographer who traveled over 100,000 miles by car for his 2019 book ‘Somewhere Along the Line’ (Kehrer Verlag)

In the summer of 2015, I drove from Tennessee to Alaska, alone in a van. I had driven cross-country many times before but this was on another level altogether, like five trips packed into one. In Alaska, I got to see mountains, forests, rivers and glaciers all teeming with wildlife and biodiversity, but then I also slept in Walmart parking lots and ate at Denny’s. It’s that mix of grandeur and banality that makes Alaska such a profoundly American place. —Edited from interviews by Donna Bulseco

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