Words inspired by the backroads of America

A Door County Anniversary

A defining moment, maybe?  A memory to tuck into the back of your mind to brighten those common everyday times, probably!  A perfect evening of a perfect day watching the sun disappear into the waters of Green Bay from Sunset Park with my favorite person by my side, definitely! 
You might think I’m being overly sentimental, and just maybe I am.  Nancy and I were enjoying our 40th Anniversary trip to Door County, Wisconsin, where we had planned a couple of days to just enjoy being together.   

Driving Through Down Home Missouri

If you are looking for the heartland of America, you can find a representational sample of it in North Central Missouri. Rolling fields, small scattered farms, neat Amish communities and the feeling that life just moves a little slower are some of the qualities of this part of the country.
I had read an article about State Highway 6 across upper Missouri through Kirksville in a book a few years ago, but had never managed to follow that route until last week on our trip up through Missouri and Illinois to the Chicago area and eventually Wisconsin. We took leave of I-35 just north of Cameron, Missouri and picked up State Highway 6 in Altamont. 

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2009

What could be more glorious than wandering a Bluestem pasture in the Flint Hills of Kansas on a cool, sunny day in June? Try adding a full symphony orchestra, authentic modern-day cowboys on horseback, covered wagons, a roving band of Kanza Indian reenactors with their Bison hunting encampment, a barbeque beef dinner with beer, wine and 8,000 appreciative Flint Hills fans.  If you are looking for that perfect day of solitude and nature, there are better days to wander the hills, but the Symphony in the Flint Hills is a wonder of organization and pageantry set in the most pristine of beautiful sites! 

Just Wandering Through Cedar Point

On June 13th, 2009, Cedar Point, Kansas will see more visitors in one day than they have ever seen in the history of their little village located along the banks of the Cottonwood River in western Chase County.  Brace yourself Cedar Point!  The Symphony is coming to town! 

The Loneliest Road in America

Looking at the map it’s just a little bit intimidating.  Old two-lane US50 snakes up and down mountain ridge after mountain ridge, across barren flats and meanders through only six towns in 480 miles between Fallon, Nevada, on the edge of civilization, and Salina, Utah, where it joins Interstate 70.  The towns are Austin, Eureka and Ely in Nevada and Hinckley, Delta and Scipio in Utah; not exactly meccas of civilized travel!  I can only imagine the trepidation earlier travelers would have had with vehicles that were not up to the standards of today’s.  Back in the days of the canvas water bags hung from the hood ornament, 4-60 air-conditioning and no cell phones, it was a test of courage.  With my year-old 4Runner, I was more concerned about restroom stops than auto service, but it would still be one long day on the road between decent accommodations. 

Magical Mendocino

Rolling into Mendocino at dusk, after a long and circuitous drive up California 128 from Napa Valley, I could sense a connection to something deep in my psyche.  You know that feeling, when you instantly feel a comfort of place and everything seems right?  That was the feeling I sensed.  Maybe it was anticipation of being somewhere I had never been or simply being able to see the horizon again (you have to be from one of the plains states to understand that feeling), but I could feel the tendons in my neck beginning to relax as we drove through town. 

The Monterey Peninsula

With the long driving days behind us and having experienced our first day of Highway One, we were ready for a little rest and relaxation.  We chose The Seven Gables Inn, located in Pacific Grove, for our respite overlooking the bay.  Perusing the web sites of the myriad of inns and bed & breakfast accommodations on the Monterey Peninsula, it is easy to develop brain cramp. However, following a recommendation from our friends in San Francisco, we focused in on the Seven Gables Inn.  Not only do they have one of the best inn web sites we have seen, we were pleased to find that the inn and the accommodations were exactly as they were shown.  The staff was excellent, the inn absolutely gorgeous, the view of the bay fabulous and our Carriage House room a comfortable respite after 1800 miles on the road.  After a short walk up the hill for dinner, we flipped on the fireplace and settled into the canopied bed for the evening.  

The Magnificent Big Sur

Can you imagine the awe that must have come across the faces of the pioneers as they topped the last of the coastal hills and set their sights on the Pacific Ocean after their many months of arduous journey across the western wilderness?  The joy I felt must have been only a fraction of theirs, but I was elated.  We had driven three and a half days for the view that spread out in front of us.  We joined up with Highway One just south of Cambria heading north; ready to experience the best of the best scenic drives in the country. 


Sitting here thinking about the memorable aspects of two days of driving I-40 across the New Mexico, Arizona and California, the best word that comes to mind is progression.  There were many scenic points along the drive and great stops to see the Old Town of Albuquerque and the red sandstone buildings of the University of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, but the experience of watching the landscape change, sometimes dramatically, as you pass from one ecosystem to another is fascinating.  Travelers who board a plane in their hometown and suddenly arrive at the resort town of their choice have no experience of the progression and change in the land between the two destinations. 

Paralleling Route 66 to California

By the time you read this we will actually be home from our epic road trip to California that covered over 4,000 miles and three weeks in September.  I had planned to update the web site on the road, but due to some technical issues, it had to wait until our return.  I will admit to the backroads travelers out there that the first couple of days of our trip were on Interstates in order to cover the initial miles of travel in the least number of hours, but by the time we arrived in Bakersfield, California, we were on the backroads again and didn't hit a freeway until we met up with I-70 in the Rockies on the way back.  With that said, there are ways to get a taste of the backroads even while covering the miles at breakneck speed.  You just have to exit once in a while and see what is being passed by.