Lauren Cardillo and her mother, Irene, set out from Chicago in a Mustang convertible, ready to follow the famous route west. "I'd never been on this road, and I thought it would be a great trip to take," Lauren says. "I called my mom and asked, 'Would you do this with me?' She loves road trips as much as I do, but she didn't know what she was getting in for." The documentary film of their trip, The Mother Road, won a Gracie Allen award from American Women in Radio and Television in 2007.
If you ever plan to motor "west on the highway that's the best," Lauren and Irene have a couple of recommendations for pit stops. "Ted Drewes in St. Louis has the best ice cream you could ever want, and it's been there pretty much since the road started," Lauren says. She loved it so much, Lauren says she even had some shipped to her after the trip.
To get a real taste of America, Lauren and Irene avoided chain hotels, choosing roadside motels instead. "If you want to experience America, you should go to the places that aren't where everyone goes," Lauren says. "The people who own [motels] have stories—they're characters, and their motels are characters too."