Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

To our faithful followers, we're sorry we dropped the ball for six months!  Life got busy after our travels were over, and the blog got pushed to the back burner.  We'd like to fix that now, and we're sharing a road trip planning series in January.  Every week this month, we'll post tips on preparing for a road trip.  In this first post, we'll tell you why we think back roads are best for road trips.


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017


For anyone who's new to 48 No Interstate, here's a quick summary of who we are and what we do:  We're Nick and Laura, and we enjoy going on road trips.  We have thousands of miles of backroads traveling under our seatbelts, including US 1 from South Carolina to Key West and the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to San Francisco, along with many day trips from our hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.  

We'd talked for years about 'one day' taking a trip across the entire country on back roads, so when the opportunity presented itself last spring, we set off on an 80-day, 22,000+ mile roadtrip and accomplished the goal of going to all 48 continental states taking all back roads!  

Interstates are helpful when you need to get from point A to point B quickly.  But have you ever thought about what you're missing as you glide along the asphalt?  Ever thought about the small towns that the Interstate system bypassed when it was created in 1956? Here are a few reasons we think you should get off the main road and discover a little bit of back roads America.

1 - It's the best way to see the country.  
You'll go for miles and not see a house, a restaurant, or even a stop sign!


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Looking 10 miles into the distance on 
US 50, The Loneliest Highway, in Nevada

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 US 60 near Springerville, AZ

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
A sign warns motorists approaching Sanderson, TX on US 90 
that there won't be gas or toilet facilities for 60+ miles.

You'll pass through crossroads that cause you to ask yourself, "Was that really a town?" (or in the case of Langtry, TX, you might intentionally take a detour to one after seeing a roadside sign about it).
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
The Judge Roy Bean Visitor's Center had already closed for the day when we pulled into the almost ghost town of Langtry, TX, just across the border from caves high in the cliffs over the Rio Grand in Mexico.  We saw no other cars or people during our short visit.

You'll pass through charming small towns.


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 The Capital of Vermont, Montpelier

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Another charming capital city, Annapolis, MD

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Carlinville, IL on Route 66

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Noblesville, IN

You'll pass through large cities.


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Boston, MA

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Chicago, IL

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Minneapolis, MN

2 - You never know what's going to happen next!
If you're someone who likes to plan your day down to the second with a detailed itinerary, then a backroads roadtrip might be challenging for you!  You can have a plan to do one thing with your day, then something you see along the way compels you to change that plan a the spur of the moment.  One of the best things about traveling on the backroads is that you never know what you'll see in the next mile, whether it's...

...a funny road sign...
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Hondo, TX
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

...a 100-mile long yard sale...
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 The 301 Endless Yard Sale, NC and SC
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

...all kinds of murals...
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Bangor, ME

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 Cuba, MO, the 'Mural City'
Route 66

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Salem, MA

...the coolest grocery store known to man...
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
At Stew Leonard's on US 1 in Norwalk, CT, you can watch milk being bottled and 
juice being squeezed, among other things!  When we saw the mini farm in front 
of the store, which is in the middle of town, we just HAD to stop for a quick visit.
It's the Disney World of grocery stores.

...a tiny jail...
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
I caught this jail out of the corner of my eye as we drove through Ludden, ND, 
and insisted we turn around to take a closer look.  Inside, you can see the old cell 
(and a lot of junk, as it is apparently being used as a storage shed)!


...and who knows what else!  There's never a dull moment when you travel on the back roads.

3 - You can follow historic routes.
Route 66 is no doubt the most famous historic route out there, but there are plenty more!  
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Route 66 begins across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago.

US Highway 1 is the nation's longest north-south highway, running from Key West to Maine, passing through most of the East Coast's state capitals, plus Washington, DC and New York City.  
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
US 1 in Virginia

California Highway 1/US 101, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), meanders along the Pacific Coast through San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco before curving away from the coast into the redwoods, then continuing into Oregon and Washington.

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
California State Highway 1 ends near Leggett, CA

Additional historic routes include the Pony Express Trail and theLoneliest Highway in America, both of which are in Nevada.  Make sure your tank is full before you turn on to either of these quiet and scenic stretches!


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

4 - You learn the identity of different parts of the country.
Every backroad has its own character, shaped by the history and geography of its location.  You'll want to put down your book and stare out the window every minute of your trip to discover the character of each road you travel (But only if you're a passenger.  If you're the driver, you shouldn't have a book.  Unless it's a book on tape.😁).

On the River Road in Louisiana, huge factories loom over old plantations along the Mississippi River, unlike any other road you'll find.  
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Louisiana's River Road

In Texas, you'll see blue skies set against green, rolling hills dotted with longhorns, bluebonnets, and ranches for miles as you drive along the Texas Hill Country Trail.  We got lucky that we were traveling in this area in the peak of bluebonnet season, and it was beautiful.  This is one of my favorite areas to drive through in the US.  I'd love to go back for a longer trip soon!
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
 The Texas Hill Country Trail rolls through central Texas

Along the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, US 90 (the Old Spanish Trail) takes you through swampland and past antebellum mansions that survived Hurricane Katrina (and have since been restored) on one side, separated from the gulf by a wide beach on the other.  In the middle of the divided highway are oak trees, some of which have been carved into art, presumably to salvage them after the hurricane damaged them.  I somehow managed not to photograph any of the beautiful old mansions.


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
Long Beach, MS
48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

We'll share more about some of our favorite US back roads, including those I've mentioned today, in the coming months.

5 - You'll spend quality time with your travel buddies.
In our case, this meant we spent a LOT of time together in the car.  During our three months of driving, we became very familiar with the sides of each other's faces!  At times, conversation was plentiful as we reminisced about where we had been so far and made plans for where we wanted to go next or in other parts of the country; other times, we peacefully stared out the windows and pointed out interesting sights.  In the Southwest, we marveled for about 6 days straight about seeing the most stunning sights we'd ever come across, only to be proven wrong the next day by something even more stunning.


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017

6 - You'll avoid SO MUCH traffic!  
Imagine driving 22,000 miles on the interstate.  How many times would you come to a standstill?  We never got stopped by traffic on this trip.  In 80 days over 22,000 miles, there was never roadwork or an accident or a traffic jam so major that we would have preferred being on the interstate.  With the exception of rush hour traffic and slow moving through large cities, we cruised across the country on the backroads.

That being said, we did have to pull over once on Highway 50 in Nevada for a giant, mysterious piece of equipment that literally took up the entire road, and we hit heavy traffic in the Northeast on Highway 1, but it always moved along efficiently.  The handful of times we were stuck behind a slow car, we had no problems getting around it (especially in Texas, where drivers move over into the wide emergency lane to let faster traffic pass).


48 No Interstate: Planning a Back Roads Road Trip series - Six Reasons You Should Take a Back Roads Road Trip in 2017
By this point, we had killed a lot of bugs with our windshield.

******************

There are many other reasons I could offer for taking a backroads roadtrip this year:  You'll save money on airfare (unless you take a flight to get to a certain starting point, in which case you're not only paying for a plane ticket, but you're probably also renting a car).  Your car gets better gas mileage on the back roads than it does on the interstate.  You'll get lost (this is a good thing!).  You'll never be bored.  And you'll have the time of your life!

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Check out the Weekend Wanderlust Facebook group and Weekend Travel Inspiration pages for more travel inspiration!



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11 comments:

  1. Hey. Welcome back. We've missed you. :)

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  2. SO interesting! Again, I feel like I'm riding along on your trip! Loving every minute of it!

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  3. You have no idea how much I love this! We've done our fair share of road trips - and many on back roads - and for me it's the most memorable way to travel. Love following along!

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    1. Thanks, Jill! Most people we know think we're a little crazy for getting off the interstate - so glad there are others who know the joys of taking the back roads!

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  4. Being from the Midwest (in a town right along Route 66), I definitely agree with taking the back roads! Now I am stuck in the city for awhile, but when I can, I get away. Looks like you all have some amazing adventures. I am new to #WeekendWanderlust, but I cannot wait to follow along. -Kayla, https://kaylamgunter.wordpress.com

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    1. Hi Kayla! Thanks for your comment. We are new to Weekend Wanderlust, too, and have so far enjoyed the variety of travel info shared there. There's something special about getting out into the middle of nowhere, especially if you spend most of your time in a city!

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  5. Backroad trips send you back to a different time. It's easy to forget how things were only 50 years ago before the advent of chain motels, big box stores, interstates and the internet. I agree - slow down, take a back road, and learn how things used to be.

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    1. They really do. It's such a nice change of pace. Plus, with the slightly slower speed, you can ride with the windows down on a pretty day. :-)

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  6. I've always said this is how I want to see the states. Great article! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration, see you next week!

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    1. You should definitely try it! It's a big place with lots to see!

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