I have been road-tripping since I was old enough to drive, many times criss-crossing the
country in cars that literally had no business being on the road. Of course there were the family trips of the 70’s that we all remember.
I must have learned to travel on a serious budget from my mom. In 1974 my dad gave her 500$ -a princely sum in those days- to go from Sacramento, CA to Maine. 3200 miles with two kids and a grandma in our gas eating Mercury Montego. He told her if there was any money left over, she could stop in Reno on the way back and gamble. – Ohhh yeah! She gambled!
We stayed in Holiday Inns and HoJo’s every night, got waited on three meals a day and saw every tourist attraction between here and there.
Try doing that today!
I collected many a placemat or coaster on our early trips. I think that’s what kept me dreaming about what’s over the next hill or around the next bend. I wish I had kept them all! But I DID remember and file away in the back of my mind, places on them that got my attention and visited them as I got older.
I wish cafe’s still used them. Such an amazing way to promote local tourism between towns and highlight things to buy/see/do.
I do have one travel mat… We had found cases of them in an old cafe we bought in Cope Colorado (yep- I’ve written about adventures in Cope before)
I find that while I enjoyed seeing the sights in the big cities- I still prefer the small communities along the way. The feeling of stepping back in time pulls at me. The people in these towns always have time to chat or answer questions- usually throwing some local lore or introducing me to other locals. And the hidden treasures to be found in the old Rexalls (we once bought a whole box of [outdated] Mercurochrome at one in North Dakota) and variety stores can’t be matched!
This summer will be no different- a new trip through Cali, NV, UT, WY, SD, ND, ID, MT
with my step mom- Not our first road trip together- I enjoy these trips with Grace because I get to add her “I remember these” stories to my memories giving me a different perspective to places I’ve in all probability already been. I also love showcasing parts of the United States she never dreamed existed. That is half the fun!
They make a big deal of ‘multi-generational travel’ these days. It is anew buzz word. But really, most of us of a certain age grew up with it.
So- If you’ve got somewhere you think we should stop… let me know!
For many years now (ok- more like decades) I have chosen Hwy 50 as my preferred route from Colorado to California. Mostly for the simple joy of the open road and partly because each time my fingers are crossed for some more wonderful Scipio sights.
The very first time I came around the curve from the west, right smack in the middle, crossing the road was an old buckboard wagon dressed up in patriotic finery. Bunting and bedecked horses, kids piled in the back also decked out. As it turns out I was just in time for 4th of July- country style.
Of course I stopped and stayed a bit! I even have the photos somewhere in my stash.. (that was back when everyone had a little 110 camera) And, OH! The welcome I received… Everyone was so nice and inviting.
That was the first time I seriously thought about just staying. Forever. There had been a
run down, closed up café for sale in the middle of town, and I just happened to have skill and youth at the time. Alas- life pulled me in another direction.
That first time sealed the deal for me… Hwy 50 it would be.
After dark on another trip, coming around the bend from the east, nearly every house was lit up in white lights. It was so beautiful! So quaint. So very Norman Rockwell-esque.
On other trips I have seen everything from herds of elk to a full cowboy roundup right outside of town… around the bend
In the ensuing years, Scipio has not grown much- in fact, back in it’s heyday Scipio was still a community under 600 ppl. But there is a ‘new’ gas station on the corner where it meets the interstate and the café has been dolled up and re-opened.
There has never been a time when I stopped, that people weren’t willing to chat. I love that. Just something about the feel of the town draws me in. I delight in the past mixed with the future, the old Vico Motor Oil sign faded on the sides of buildings, the majesty of the elk at watering time…..
I came through in early October with my mother-in-law. She has never traveled across
country on back roads and it was a joy to show her how Rural America looks .Of course we stopped in Scipio and took photos with what I am sure are the most photographed gas pumps in Utah! Our bad luck though, the café was closed. But there
is a older home with a couple acres right on the bend for sale…As always, I see the possibilities…
Sometimes I still think I should have…
Scipio never fails to delight- next time you’re headed that-a-way, make it a point to go through.
Scipio is also very easily a Kate’s 8 town.
*Katy is a motivational speaker and rural advocate at Tait and Kate helping small towns and businesses grow and thrive.
What can I say- I like cheese. The cheesier, the better. I am a sucker for it every time. Especially the ones that you have your head in the picture. Leaping tall fences, cutting off traffic, abruptly stopping the car… I am guilty of all.
Thankfully my sons were always game for another stop on our adventures.
I think my love of Roadside Kitch began in the early ’70s with a long trip to the east coast and my first sighting of an oversized Bobs BigBoy! Or maybe it was Burma Shave that grabbed me with their signs…”The monkey took one look at Jim and threw the peanut back at him“(Dixon, CA)
Roadside attractions became wildly popular all over the US in the 1930s when we began to “See the USA in our Chevrolets” and continued well into the 60s. – They were to grab your attention and get you off the road and into town.
The general intent was that if they got you to stop to see the worlds biggest ball of twine, then you’d probably stay for dinner, get gas (think “eat at Stuckey’s and get gas”) and maybe even stay the night or do a little shopping.
The idea is still the same today, except most roadside attractions are now in predominately rural areas.
And I still stop at them. I doubt I will ever be too old to enjoy the novelty of roadside attractions.
That dang Dinosaur tried to gallop away! Just like in the western movies.
On my way back from a recent trip, I stopped in North Platte, Nebraska. I pulled into the Sinclair gas station right off the highway… and to my delight was “Dino” the dinosaur right at the curb side. With a saddle!!!
It was beckoning me.. taunting…”you know you want to ride me”…
I heeded the call and wandered over for a closer look. Practically giddy because I dig roadside kitsch.
In spite of the fact that ‘Dino’ was wearing a pint sized kiddo saddle, I put my foot in the stirrup and started to haul my self up when all of a sudden ~WHUMP! And I was on the ground. The itty bitty saddle slid sideways.
The first image in my mind was of my dinosaur galloping off into the sunset dragging me off with my foot caught in the stirrup.
So, me nearly hysterical with laughter and hoping nobody saw (except the cars going by!)
In the next second a young man runs over and hollers “Here Lady!! Climb up!” and flings himself down on all fours to make a human stool and his friend grabs the saddle, rights it and says “I’ll hold it”
How could I say no??
They even took a picture of me. And the one fellow had his phone out too… I can only imagine that somewhere, I am now a YouTube sensation!
(you can bet the odds are good I will try it again sometime)