The Great Loop: 5,000 to 7,500 miles of intercontinental travel courtesy of the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, Great Lakes, Canadian canals, and inland rivers.
The Great Loop: 5,000 to 7,500 miles of intercontinental travel courtesy of the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, Great Lakes, Canadian canals, and inland rivers.

Assuming I can ever afford to retire, I have two travel fantasies. Both rely on infrastructure, and both will be possible, assuming adequate planning on my part, thanks to you.

1. Hit the road with my dog, a la John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley. This country is so beautiful, and there’s so much to see.

Congress will still be wasting billions of dollars’ worth of work time arguing over how to fund surface transportation, but roads and bridges will be serviceable. You will have figured out, like you always have, how to keep them in working order. You’ll have done that by persuading local taxpayers, like you always have, that in lieu of help from Washington, they will need to pay for local improvements themselves. They won’t be happy about it, but they’ll vote to raise their property, sales, fuel, and/or other taxes for the privilege of getting where they’re going faster.

Car manufacturers will have spent roughly the same amount developing technology that will enable my RV to drive itself. I hope I’ll still be able to drive, but it’s good to know that if worse comes to worst, I can give the vehicle my destination and then head to the back for a nap.

2. See the nation via its original roads: rivers. The world looks completely different from the water.

As this article explains, Washington just overhauled U.S. Army Corps of Engineers processes and procedures via the latest water-resources funding bill. (Congress is supposed to reauthorize the legislation every other year, but … well, you know how that goes.)

The law gives local authorities more input into federal projects. However, as with the 2012 reauthorization of surface transportation funding legislation, control is being relinquished in tiny increments because (irony of ironies) Washington doesn’t quite trust you’ll spend taxpayer dollars wisely.

I’m sure that within the next decade or so (probably the same amount of time it will take to pass the next water bill), you’ll have proven yourselves capable of sound fiscal management. So I'll be able to navigate a little houseboat around the Great Loop, as long as the Corps updates its maps.

Washington won’t have its act together, but there will be friendly faces and clean marinas along the way. So on behalf of my future plans—and everyone traveling now—thank you.