The trailer magnifies every bump in the road for us in the car so on a bad road I feel like a kid bumping down the stairs on my bottom – for hours. Hastily contrived Plan B’s after we’ve juddered along Interstates have not been the ticket to marital harmony as we have gotten lost on local roads not shown in the road atlas. We’ve checked out the Interstates in most states and tend to want to avoid them, hence my unpatriotic comment about the Interstates in my Friday post.
President Eisenhower’s grand scheme, approved in the 1950’s to open up the country with a grid work of limited-access highways, made long-distance motor transport in the U.S. quick and easy. I was a little girl when I95 scythed through my grandparent’s dairy farm in Maryland, spoiling the country tranquility.
Currently running to 46,876 miles, the whole of the Interstate Highway System was completed . . . . well, it’s not done yet. And thanks to a complicated system of funding with federal, state and toll authority funds, we will probably rattle our brains out on the poorly maintained Interstates for years to come. They’re not all in bad repair but you don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for until you are committed to at least that day’s route.
State and county roads usually have smoother road surfaces and less traffic hassle so that when we arrive at our destination at the cocktail hour Jimmy’s beers don’t explode, the contents of the bathroom cabinet don’t fall into the sink the first time it’s opened (so funny when I hear it happen to himself, “ARG*#@*&GH!”), and the frozen orange juice doesn’t launch itself onto your foot with the first visit to the freezer.
The country roads offer a slice of Americana as well.
Had we stuck to the Interstate, we’d never have seen Whistle Binkies on the Lake in Rochester, Minnesota or the hair salon Curl Up and Dye in Georgia or Dee’s Road Kill Café on the back road to Atlanta; we wouldn’t have towed down Main Street in Brockport, New York and hooted with laughter at Fast Buck Fanny’s and Trader Shag’s Emporium.
If we hadn’t tooled along The Great River Road – Highway 52 – Iowa would have remained 56,276 square miles of beans and corn in our minds and we’d have missed the pretty town of Guttenberg nestled invitingly on the valley floor between the Mississippi River and the limestone bluffs, its limestone block buildings harking back to its origins over 150 years ago, a long history for this young country.
If we’d stayed on the Interstate instead of taking route 41 south in Georgia, we wouldn’t have seen fields of cotton and the roadside littered with tufts of cotton, like so many wadded up tissues – real cotton – blown off the plants, the harvesters and the trucks hauling the cotton harvest to the train depot. Cotton was now a crop to be labored over in our minds, not just a shirt fabric in a store.
There’s so much to see off the high speed roads and it’s a shame we can’t appraise every square mile.
What is your favorite back road?