Joe's Road Trip 2011

Road Trip 2011!

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As I was saying…Washington is just too ugly for words. The rest of the world isn’t much of a bargain, either. I’m feeling the need to get outta here, hit the road, talk to actual people. And so–you knew it was coming–another road trip!

This time, I’m driving south to north, border to border, from Laredo, Texas to North Dakota, with a final stop in Minneapolis. Or maybe not. Well, you decide–just like last time. The best part of last year’s meandering New York to Los Angeles jaunt was that TIME readers help fill out my dance card. I asked you for suggestions about where to go  and whom to meet, and you came through in a terrific way.

And so, once again, I’m asking you to make me an offer: If you’re living somewhere along my general route, and you know someone really admirable or interesting I should meet–or maybe you want to introduce me to your co-workers or extended family–get in touch. We’ll try to schedule it. This time, I’m especially interested in meeting with small businesspeople, finding out what’s good and bad about what you do, what the government does to help or hurt your business. But I’d like anyone else who wants to talk about the future (and present) of our country, too.

I’m going to start on September 10 or thereabouts in Laredo, Texas, then head north. As many of you know, music is a big deal for me–so I’ll be spending September 14-18 at the Austin City Limits Music Festival with a bunch of my political friends. After that, I’m heading north to Texarkana, home of the late Wright Patman, one of the great populist congressmen in history (and one of the first people I interviewed when I got to Washington in 1974).

(PHOTOS: Scenes from a Midterm Election Road Trip)

Then Arkansas and Missouri. The schedule is very loose here, but I do want to visit Joplin and see how they’re faring after the tornadoes. I’ll be spending the better part of a week in Iowa in late September, watching the GOP presidential candidates on the stump. If you’re an Iowa Republican and you want to set up a meeting for me with your friends, get in touch.

Finally, I’ll be heading up to North Dakota. Why? Because they’re having an oil boom there…and I’d like, just for old time’s sake, to see what a boom economy looks like. I’ll drop off my car–not sure what kind of car yet, but something with personality–in Minneapolis/St. Paul sometime during the first week in October and I’m looking forward to meeting people there, too.

Again, the best part of the last road trip was hearing what YOU had to say. If you’d like to be part of this, post a comment below or e-mail me at Joe_Klein@timemagazine.com…or you can get in touch with Katy Steinmetz, who is returning after a fearsome tour as last year’s road trip scheduler, fact checker, nutritionist and necromancer. Her e-mail is Katy_Steinmetz@timemagazine.com.

Meeting you and your friends was the most rewarding part of last year’s road trip for me. So don’t be shy. If I’m headed your way, let me buy you a cup of coffee, or something stronger, if you’re so inclined.

VIDEO: Joe Klein: After an Election Road Trip

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