The idea for CrossCountryRoads.com came about when I, Tom Valazak, decided that I wanted to share my road trip experiences with others. I always had a deep interest in the U.S. Interstate Highway System, which I feel is a modern marvel that is often taken for granted. This interest sparked several internet searches for highway photos so that I could attempt to see what the roads and scenes along them looked like in parts of the country I hadn't yet visited. Through these searches, I came across websites like OKRoads.com by Eric Stuve, and AARoads.com by Alex Nitzman and Andy Field. Seeing the vast array of highway photos and information both sites had to offer, I felt it was a good time for me to start documenting my own road photos the way they were.
I began taking road photos in 2009, when I made a cross-country trip to Los Angeles, CA. Armed only with an early model Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot camera, I shot hundreds of road pictures along the way. While this allowed me to revisit the memories of the trip, it didn't allow me to share the experience and photos with other road enthusiasts like myself. After dumping some photos onto Facebook, I still felt they weren't quite reaching the target audience of fellow 'road geeks'. I felt that these photos could indeed help others to see what a particular road in a certain part of the country looks like and feels like to drive on. It was time to take things a step further, and creating a website dedicated to road photography felt like a great way to accomplish these things I had set out to do.
In June 2010, I registered the domain name CrossCountryRoads.com. I decided on that name because I wanted to convey the message that I was dedicated to covering and photographing roads all across the country, rather than focusing on just one region of it. I had absolutely no experience designing or maintaining a website, so I knew there would be a steep learning curve. I started out by watching numerous YouTube tutorials, countless Google searches, and even buying a few books about the trade. Soon after, I was able to piece together a working website, albeit a rather simple and amateurish one. I continued making cross country trips every spring while I was a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (having long, extended periods of time off between semesters was definitely helpful in this hobby). Soon, the road photos began to stockpile on my hard drives and the site was updated rather irregularly and casually. At the very least, I was now doing part of what I set out to do with this hobby: Making my road photos available to the rest of the world.
In 2011, CrossCountryRoads.com underwent a full site redesign with a CSS-based layout once I was able to teach myself the ins and outs of it.
Upon finishing school, I wasn't able to immediately find work in what I had majored in. This downtime led to more trips, and subsequently, more road photos. I changed career paths in 2012 and worked as an over-the-road truck driver for two years, which felt like a natural fit for someone who has a vast interest in roads. During this time, I came up with the idea of mounting a camera to record real-time highway footage to be uploaded to YouTube and posted to the site as well. This is the time when I started the CrossCountryRoads YouTube channel and the CrossCountryRoads Facebook page. For quite a while, I shifted to only shooting road videos. In the spring of 2013, I had planned another cross country trip to get me to the remaining states in the lower 48 that I hadn't yet been to. Upon completion of this trip and having been to all 48 continental U.S. states, I wondered what new goal would keep me motivated to continue pushing forward in this hobby which had become a major part of my life.
In the middle of 2013 when I changed careers again, I took up highway photography once again and coupled it with the road videos to provide the most comprehensive road coverage possible by one person on a limited budget. My goal then became to cover every possible mile of the Interstate Highway System that I could, and capture it all in photos and video. 2014 was an off-year for road trips, as I had not yet accumulated any vacation time at my new job. However, once 2015 rolled around, I was geared up and ready to go roading again. That is also when I came up with that new goal to keep me motivated to continue in this hobby, and that goal is to clinch every mile of the Interstate Highway System and capture it in photos and/or videos. It's quite a lofty goal, but one that I've become more and more dedicated to achieving with every mile that goes by.
Upon official announcement of this new goal via an audio blog on the CrossCountryRoads YouTube channel and CrossCountryRoads blog page, I've never been more enthusiastic about the hobby. 2015 was a very productive road trip year, and I hope to continue that trend in the coming years as well.
In 2016, CrossCountryRoads.com underwent another redesign to make the site view better on tablets and mobile devices. That is the design you're seeing right now. The site features road photos, road videos, road information, a blog, a log of my clinched Interstates, and more. I hope to continue adding new features and functionality to the site as time goes on.
I intend for the site to be a good source of information for both the general public and road enthusiasts. Thank you for visiting CrossCountryRoads, and I hope you find something useful here. Happy roading!