Interstate travel is the fast and sure method of going from one place to another; however, it is not necessarily the most scenic route. To view all of the wonders in this great land, one must avoid at all costs, these boring stretches of concrete ribbon. There are no “Bubba’s Reptile Farm” situated beside the interstate highways.
I am convinced that the interstate system was responsible for the idiom, “You’ve seen one, and you’ve seen them all.” Mile after mile of nothing more exciting than huge signs with neon letters that read, “SEE ROCK CITY” or “STUCKEYS”, exit 10. In addition, travels on these expressways do much to increase animosity among family members. With conversation limited to: “Are you sure that you turned the coffee pot off?” and; “If you children don’t sit still and shut up, we’ll go back home:” Is there any wonder that family break-ups are on the rise?
Enjoyable vacations are the ones that traverse the country by way of the Back Roads. You know, the ones where you circle the courthouse five times before you can exit, and chances are you still get on the wrong road and end up in the parking lot of the Fertilizer Plant. This in itself is not bad, simply because you can educate the children in the proper methods of fertilization while attempting to find your way to “Joe’s Flea Market: Things, Stuff and Junk.”
The sleepy towns with a few cars angle-parked on Main street and an array of straight chairs leaning against the store fronts on a wooden sidewalk are as much a part of Americana as “The World’s Largest Mall.” The towns that have yet to sport even a McDonalds or Wendy’s are nevertheless more exhilarating than the high-speed lanes of the interstate highways. It is here that you find the historical markers that announce the birthplace of the colonial governor of Arkansas or where General Jason P. Snodgrass was slain during the Civil War.
Attractions of educational appeal are in abundance when “Back- Roading.” Where else can you find plots of land where “Funk’s Hybrid” corn seed is tested? Abandoned buildings with huge weed infested parking lots that once housed a thriving cotton mill. “The Pig & Whistle Drive Inn” with the now silent speaker posts anchored in rows that were the gathering place for countless teenagers consuming the famous “Burgers and Fries with large Coke – .69 cents.”
Individual one-room cottages with a neon sign that reads; “Stella’s Tourist Cabins, No Vacancy.” Or “Arthur’s Used Auto Parts: If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”
“B and G’s Filling Station” is another must on your trip through America’s heartland. It is here where your gasoline is pumped for you, your oil is checked, your windshield cleaned, your car is vacuumed of all the candy wrappers and spilled popcorn and the proper amount of air is put into your tires, all while you enjoy a soft drink from the ice box and a package of cheese crackers from the wire rack just above. A trip to the outside “PRIVY” in back, and you are on your way to another adventure.
A vacation of this type can and does offer enough “Show and Tell” material for an entire school year. Here one experiences firsthand the fabric that made this country great. The metal that forged uniqueness found only far from the endless stretches of highway called the Interstate.
By the way: Be sure to have your picture taken with “Chief Redjaw” of the famous “True Arrow” Indian Tribe,” or alongside the “Stuffed Bear at “Red’s Burger Barn.” It will “ALL” be unforgettable, to say the least.