We left Dale Hollow Reservoir early on Sunday morning. We are on a mission: get to upstate New York early in the week. Friday begins the Memorial Day holiday weekend and there is one thing we know from living on Long Island for most of our lives: Do NOT drive anywhere in the NY-Metropolitan area on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. They don’t call the Long Island Expressway the worlds longest parking lot for nothing.
To achieve our mission we have to do something we don’t like, three days of straight driving on the Interstates. The hills and hollers of Kentucky turn into the rolling farms of Ohio. We drive through the tunnels under the Allegheny Mountains of Western Pennsylvania into the beautiful Amish country of Eastern Pennsylvania. Finally, the spectacular Hudson Valley. I-75, I-71, I-70, I-81, I-84, I-87, they run together. Unending white lines broken up by gas stops, rest stops and pit stops.
A friend recently sent me a quote from John Steinbeck’s novel, Travels WIth Charley. Something to the effect that with the completion of the Interstate highway system you could now drive from coast-to-coast and not see a damn thing. How true. Earlier in our trip, on a smaller road in Georgia we saw a store offering 275 flavors of popcorn. We didn’t stop in, but we did try and figure out, once you get past maybe kettle, cayenne and carmel, what flavors could they offer? Thoughts of Bertie Bots every flavor beans, from the Harry Potter books, came to mind. Spinach, liver and tripe?
We also missed looking for the small town churches, beckoning their flocks with signs meant to remind them of the important things in life. Our favorite this week: “God answers “knee” mail.” We sacrificed these small pleasures but we achieved our mission. We arrived at our friend’s farm, Heron Landing, well ahead of the holiday. We parked our RV next to the horse paddock, said hello to the horses and alpacas and settled in for a nice visit. Maybe we’ll spend a few days at their beach house on Fire Island. We are flexible, as long as we aren’t on the road on Friday.
Thanks for the Steinbeck attribution!
Mike (My Blue) Heron
Next time when you see a sign like you did for that store in Georgia, turn around and go back! The trip is not just the destination. Getting on the back roads IS the way to see America. On the Interstate highways you only see the homogenization…the corporate food places and motels that are cookie cutter the same whereever you go.
Hi, thanks for reading the post and commenting. We’ve been traveling the backroads for seven years and couldn’t agree more.