Against his better judgment, Madden agreed to break one of his cardinal rules. He told Hahn and Yarbrough they could take 1-80 all the way into New York City. Naturally, the highway was under construction in northeastern Pennsylvania, and the bus crawled for two hours. "No more of this——road, ever, into New York," said Madden before retiring for a quick nap.
When we reached the congestion of eastern New Jersey, it reminded Madden that he was closing in on his home away from home. He reflected on the trip and the country he had crossed. "I think we're in pretty good shape," he said. "The thing that's always amazed me is how it works. People who live on farms don't want to live in big cities. People who live in big cities don't want to be farmers. If everyone wanted the same thing, or wanted to live in the same place, the thing would never work. There are people who are as happy as hell living in Kearney, Nebraska, and eating at Grandpa's. There are people who are as happy as hell living in the middle of nowhere.
"Probably above that, what I've learned traveling around is this: People are nice. You go to a big city, and you hear the world is going to hell, but it's not true. Small parts of it are; the whole isn't. Hey, all we have to do is spread out a little bit, because we have a lot of space. You get out there, and it makes you feel better about America. The thing works."
From start to finish, I found no strangers.... These are my people and this is my country.
—Travels with Charley