Where should CNET Road Trip go in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas?

The days are warm and sunny here in Northern California, and though it's only the middle of March, it already feels like summer is just around the corner.

One reason is that I've started the planning in earnest for Road Trip 2014, my ninth-annual journey to highlight some of the best destinations around for technology, military, aviation, architecture, science, nature, and so on.

For seven of the past eight years, CNET Road Trip has taken me all around the roads of the United States, giving me the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, the Southeast, the … Read more

Planes, trains, and automobiles: Road Trip 2013 comes to an end

Some people on the West or East coasts may call the American Midwest the "flyover states," but after driving more than 5,200 miles around eight states in the heartland this summer, I can definitely say I got to know the region intimately.

As part of CNET Road Trip 2013, I drove deep into eight states in the region over the last month-and-a-half, exploring Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri in search of technology, architecture, aviation, and manufacturing stories.

Over the course of the 5,200 miles, I stayed in 24 different cities and made … Read more

How Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin survived murder, fires, constant change

SPRING GREEN, Wis. -- Is it possible for a masterwork of architecture to be best known for a grisly murder?

In the case of Taliesin, architect Frank Lloyd Wright's longtime home, the answer may well be yes.

In 1911, Wright built a stunning home on a terrific piece of land with a steep drop on one side and a gentle descent on the other. He built it for Mamah Borthwick, a client's wife with whom he had fallen in love. Needing to escape Oak Park, Ill., where he had lived and worked, but where the client lived, he … Read more

How Goodyear uses tech to make a faster race tire

AKRON, Ohio and INDIANAPOLIS -- If you want to know how a major Nascar race is won, think about the fact that when Ryan Newman won last month's Brickyard 400, his sub-three-second margin of victory was chalked up to having replaced just two tires on his last pit stop rather than all four.

Considering that a pit crew like the one that supports Newman can change all four tires in about 14 seconds (see video below), it's easy to see how choosing to skip replacing two may have saved him enough time to end up ahead of race … Read more

Slides, whales, and tunnels, oh my: A 'museum' like no other

ST. LOUIS -- Other cities may be better known for their art scenes, or their architecture, their planetariums, or their parks. But nowhere else has anything quite like the playground meets science fair meets historical architecture meets circus show that is the City Museum.

The brainchild of internationally known artist Bob Cassilly, the City Museum could hardly be less like what its name implies. Though there are paintings, historical artifacts, and educational exhibits, it's hard to imagine another museum whose director describes his job as "I build slides for a living. How hard is [that?]" … Read more

At Oshkosh, Terrafugia's flying car finally soars for the public

OSHKOSH, Wis. -- It's not from a James Bond movie, it's not the Jetsons, and this isn't Disneyland. That really was a flying car soaring overhead as thousands looked on Wednesday evening.

Known as the Transition, it is Boston-based Terrafugia's real-life flying car. An airplane that can take off just minutes after being street legal, the Transition is a $279,000 experiment in bringing America's roads and skies together through a single machine.

The Transition was one of the headliners for the Wednesday evening performances at the giant EAA AirVenture air show here, where it … Read more

U.S. Stratcom isn't your father's Strategic Air Command

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The world is a very big place, but wherever there's a mission for the U.S. military, there's a role for the U.S. Strategic Command.

This is Stratcom, one of three American combatant commands, a place that does everything from running B-2 bombing raids over places like Libya to analyzing radiation fallout from the nuclear power plants in Japan that were crippled by 2011's earthquake and tsunami. From the depths of the oceans to 22,000 nautical miles into space, U.S. Strategic Command has jurisdiction.

As part of Road Trip 2013, … Read more

Race on! How tech makes Nascar faster, safer, and more exciting

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The challenge facing Nascar was simple: Make its cars faster than ever, safer than ever, and more exciting than ever, without turning fans or drivers off. And keep the playing field as level as possible.

As part of Road Trip 2013, I've come to perhaps the most hallowed racing grounds of all, the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500, for last weekend's Brickyard 400. I'm here to see just how Nascar is trying to pull off this tricky balancing act, an attempt to breathe new life into a sport that once … Read more

Rolling through the world's largest rail yard

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. -- If you want to know how the American economy is doing before everyone else does, a visit to this small town in western Nebraska might well give you some very valuable hints.

Why would such an otherwise nondescript town be a place to see how the country is doing? The answer lies in Union Pacific's 2,850-acre, eight-mile-wide Bailey Yard, the world's largest rail yard, where around 139 separate trains carrying 14,000 rail cars roll through every day. In a strong economy, the number of trains coming through rises. As the economy flattens … Read more

Did Frank Lloyd Wright create America's greatest office?

RACINE, Wis. -- There's always stiff competition for the title of America's best workplace. But when it comes to the country's best work space, the lucky people who spend their days in the administration building at SC Johnson headquarters may well have the bragging rights.

Designed by celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the building in this town just south of Milwaukee defies logic -- and, some thought, physics. Its signature element is 60 21-foot-tall columns that fill its famous half-acre open Great Workroom.

Together, the columns resemble a lily pad, and seem so light and airy that … Read more