5 weeks ago
Monday, August 04, 2008
There are two ways to get across Nebraska. There is the boring, direct way, and there is the non-boring indirect way. Interstate 80 was constructed along a riverbank to make it easier to build. Highway 20 cuts through the sandhills and buttes of northwest Nebraska.
There are a lot of reasons to take the slow boat. Here are just a few of them.
1) Accommodations. The hotels and motels along the interstate are expensive, generic boxes with no soul. The hotels along the backroads can be lovely, clean, cheap, family-owned places of lodging. True, there are the occasional Bates Motels, but if you keep your eyes open you can find places like this one.
2. Good Food. If you take the Interstate, you get a choice every ten miles of Cracker Barrels, Subways, McDonalds, or in some latitudes, Waffle Houses. With the exception of the latter, most of these are also soulless boxes with the same crappy food served with the same crappy attitude. At least you get interesting waitstaff at the Waffle Houses.
If you get off the brainless ribbon of asphalt you get places like this one. Great food, lots of it, and the total was $4.95. Half the price of Cracker Barrel. And you don't have to walk through the tacky gift shop.
3. Interesting Sites. If you stick to the path most traveled, you miss places like this: Carhenge. It is nowhere near anything. It is not on the way to anywhere, nor is it on the way from anywhere. It has to be a destination. If you're setting your schedule so that you can pee every 2.3 hours at a nice, clean bathroom, you'll never see Carhenge.
Carhenge totally rocked. 60 miles out of the way, if you have a way that needs getting out of.
Ian got a Carhenge t-shirt. I went surfing on stationary cars.
3/4: Interesting Good Food Sites. Combine 3 and 4 and we're talking Nirvana. Out of the way (again, that strange concept) was the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Museum in LeMars, Iowa.
There are numerous other reasons to take the blue roads over the mindless 4-lane. Better gas mileage. The ability to pull over and stand in the middle of the highway for three or four minutes to compose a picture (try that on an interstate!). The ability to wave to people and have them wave back before you pass them. That, and the whole highway is like a giant rest area. Stop where you want.
Slow down, people. Take your time. It's your time, so take it. Carpe tempus. Or something like that. Stop and smell the hay.
Reporting from somewhere in rural northeast Colorado,
Posted by canoelover at 10:56 PM