CNET Road Trip 2014: Geek culture in Tornado Alley

Ride with CNET's Daniel Terdiman as he explores the best tech spots in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

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Flight control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

They tell me it's hot in Texas in the summer -- and also in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kansas. So, naturally, that's where I'm heading for this year's CNET Road Trip.

This year will be my ninth Road Trip, an annual project that takes me to one region of the country in search of the most interesting destinations for technology, the military, aviation, space, architecture, and much more. Since 2006, I've traveled countless thousands of miles around the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Southeast, the Rocky Mountain region, the Northeast, the West Coast, and the Midwest. I even spent the summer of 2011 plying the roads of Western Europe.

Looking at the tattered map of the United States on which I've traced my various routes since this project began in 2006, there were couple big holes left, indicating unexplored territory. One of them is what a lot of people call Tornado Alley, so that's where I'm going this year.

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A map of the United States showing seven of the previous CNET Road Trip routes. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Starting Monday, I'll be on Road Trip 2014. I'll post more than two dozen stories and photo galleries over the next several weeks, along with my daily Picture of the Day challenge (only North American readers will see that), showcasing a wide variety of the region's best.

From US Army helicopter (re)manufacturing to US Air Force basic training, from Professor Dumpster to NASA's Johnson Space Center, and from FedEx's massive package-sorting hub to Frank Lloyd Wright's only office building, Road Trip 2014 will take you along with me. I'll go behind the scenes at Southwest Airlines, checking out their hub, and their operations center. I'll also look at the US Bureau of Engraving & Printing's latest $100 bill production process and how locomotives are manufactured.

I want to keep a few surprises in store, but expect to see things like the National Weather Service's extreme weather center, and an incredible custom car museum in Oklahoma. Want to see the production line for Boeing 787 Dreamliner fuselages? So do I, and I'll go there. I'll also check out the architecture of one of America's most beautiful chapels.

Though my focus will be on the destinations, I'll also be trying out a few products along the way. For one, I'll be wearing a FitBit Flex and going head to head -- well, step to step -- with my wife as we both train for a major trek we're taking later this year. The Flex will hopefully help motivate me to keep on walking, even while I make my way through the Road Trip route. I'll also be using a Garmin Montana 650t hand-held GPS navigator. Finally, I'll be driving all those thousands of miles in a Mercedes E250 BlueTEC that I'll be road-testing.

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Mercedes' E250 BluTEC, which CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman, will be driving during Road Trip 2014. Mercedes-Benz

Though my itinerary is pretty much jam-packed, I may put out a call for ideas for additional places to visit, as I often have in the past. I love to reward such help, and if I end up using one of your ideas, I'll be happy to send a small token of my appreciation your way.

You can follow the whole project on the main Road Trip 2014 page, but you can also track my progress on Twitter, as well as on Facebook, and, sometimes, on Tout.

So if you see me tooling along the highway, or taking photographs for Picture of the Day, please say hi.

 

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