American filmmaker Robert Kramer and his friend Doc both spent many years abroad—Kramer in Europe and Doc in Africa. They decide to reacquaint themselves with their country of birth by traveling from north to south along its east coast, taking the iconic 2,300-mile U.S. Route 1 as their guiding theme.
Kramer handles the camera, and Doc does the conversing. They attend a birthday party, a church service, and an election meeting. They visit an old friend of Doc’s and also spend time with a group of children and their coach in a deprived neighborhood. At several stop-offs the pair join a guided tour of a local monument. This turns the film into more than just a travelogue through the American landscape, and transforms it into a journey through the country's history—with a specific, painful focus on Vietnam.
Doc’s personal reflections help suffuse the film with melancholy—he increasingly becomes a character in a story that meanders between pure observational documentary and fiction.