Here’s to not being there yet.

Welcome to the fourth edition of Scenic Route: Voices– a series featuring stories from drivers
and driving enthusiasts from all over the world.

This is the story of Rob Schlederer, Jonathan Walker, and a Porsche 911 named Astrid on an
impromptu 4,400 mile journey from New York City to Oregon. And how a spur-of-the-moment
idea turned into the trip of a lifetime.

Rob is a driving enthusiast and real estate agent based in Brooklyn, NY. Jonathan is an
automotive and lifestyle photographer also based in New York City.

Fast, reliable wheels and an
impromptu trip across the country

Words and photos by @racemehome and @wakkagram

When we first met, Astrid was what is commonly referred to as a garage queen. The first of the water-cooled and the last of the lightweight 911’s, Astrid was a 1999 996 with a paltry 17,000 miles on the clock in her 21st year. It was my duty, and certainly my privilege, to add to them. While numerous trips through the Catskills and Berkshires during those long, lonely days of the pandemic allowed me to get better acquainted with her penchant for fast, sweeping bends and tight valley runs, a spur-of-the-moment decision in late September meant we were about to get to know each other a lot better on an impromptu trip across the entire country.

I should explain. Jonathan, my travel companion, is a very much in-demand photographer who just happened to be looking for a driver. He’d been invited to shoot the Overcrest invitational rally in Oregon, and needed wheels. Preferably wheels that were fast and reliable. That’s where I came along. It had been years since I’d done something this spontaneous, but there was a definite behavioral pattern in my not-too-distant past, and recent circumstances provided what little accelerant was required to light the fire.   

“Ten hours a day for eleven days
straight, across twelve beautiful
states and over 4,400 miles.”

Ten hours a day for eleven days straight, across twelve beautiful states and over 4400 miles. It had the potential to be the trip of a lifetime, but I’d be lying if I told you we’d been planning for weeks. The closest we’d come was, at best, spitballing. And while I’m not entirely unfamiliar with from Venice across most of southern Europe to the very tip of Gibraltar. Thankfully, this time, I didn’t need a phrase book, and I was trading the trusty Renault Kangoo that had served me so well back then for a far more visceral experience. 
Leaving Brooklyn, New York early one morning with the sun at our backs and a few clothes tossed in a pair of duffel bags, Jonathan and I headed for a friendly and reliable rest stop at the Sunday Motor Co. Café in Madison, New Jersey. We knew the proprietor, Nick, and many of the regulars. While some of our friends expressed surprise and perhaps a little disbelief in our admittedly loose ‘plans,’ we were buoyed by the generous offer of accommodation that very night. Things were already shaping up.
With only four days to reach Boise, Idaho, we hit the road early the next morning. From sunrise to sunset, we logged mile after mile, stopping only for gas, or occasionally to marvel at the beauty surrounding us. The rolling hills of Pennsylvania soon gave way to Iowan cornfields, then the Great Plains, before the Rocky Mountains began to dominate our view. Endless blue skies darkened with full clouds, eventually bursting with rain. And as the road rose up to meet us, the skies parted, and we were bathed in golden shards of light emerging from the progressing storm.
Sounds like rapture. For us, it was. Over the past eighteen months, I’d been coming to terms with the loss of my father, and the grief and reflection that inevitably follow. Driving had become my therapy.

Twisting through cavernous mountain passes in Idaho, I found my thoughts turning to family. My love of the road was shaped by a childhood filled with endless weekend adventures to far-off places, with Dad chain-smoking at the wheel while Mum helped navigate with a massive atlas – a forgotten vestige of an analog world. Meanwhile, my brother and I alternated between “I spy” and fighting with each other to ward off boredom in the backseat, occasionally asking “Are we there yet?”
Shortly before we pulled into Boise, I realized I had found an answer to that childhood question. We were close, but we weren’t there yet. And hopefully, I’d never be. As long as I stayed open to possibilities that were presented to me, there would always be new adventures, new roads to explore, and new memories to be made along the way.