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Old 07-22-2009, 11:22 PM
Location: Tucson AZ & Leipzig, Germany
2,619 posts, read 7,922,938 times
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Well concussion, I am probably within a few miles of where you are here in OC. I've lived in plenty of other places and there's a whole world of interesting stuff out there waiting. Sure, OC has it's share of sterile plastic places. It's the sad reality that most medium to large towns in America these days have a main route through town that consists of a long neon string of the same fast food restaurants and big box stores. And after you see a bunch of other places, the cities and towns in OC will probably look a little better.

One of my favorite books about wandering around rural America is "Out West" by Dayton Duncan. This guy is a big fan of Louis and Clark, and decides to follow their route of exploration as closely as possible over the period of a year or so by VW bus. The book is all about small town middle America and has great tales about how to do a roadtrip. He develops a bunch of road rules, some of which I like and some I don't. So my suggestion would be to follow the route of Louis and Clark along the Columbia valley to the Rockies, through Idaho and Montana, and then follow the Yellowstone and Missouri down to the Mississippi. From St. Louis, head south down the Mississippi to Memphis, MS Delta, Natchez, NOLA and the gulf coast. That will give you a taste of America that is a world removed from OC.
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Old 07-23-2009, 12:31 AM
Location: Way up north :-)
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"Blue Highways" by William Least Heat-Moon is a wonderful story of someone getting off the 'red' main highways and discovering the smaller 'blue' roads.
I don't know if anyone's mentioned Route 66 yet, but that old road has so many spirits and so much atmosphere. It's iconic, but not that heavily travelled, at least it wasn't when we cruised it. There were some beautiful not widely visited places in NM, Texas, Arizona...to us it seemed that if we planned for the diversion, we could find these amazing places just about everywhere we travelled. Good luck and have a great trip!
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Old 07-23-2009, 07:57 AM
Location: South Dakota
733 posts, read 4,245,286 times
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Originally Posted by Easybreezy View Post
I read your blog...It reminded me of a book that I read long ago, "Blue Highways", by William Least Heat Moon. The book is probably long out of print, but if you ever see a copy, I highly recommend it... .
An excellent suggestion. As I recall the author took to rating the quality of restaurants along the "blue highways" based on the number of calendars hanging on the walls!

Have you read his book Prairyerth? It's an alternative approach, sort of, to Blue Highways wherein he spends long stretches of time digging deeply into the social fabric and history of one, somewhat sparsely populated, county in Kansas.

Excellent reading...and an excellent introduction into finding real rural America.
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Old 07-24-2009, 01:18 AM
Location: Way up north :-)
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Thanks Windtimber, will keep an eye out for that one. Cannot read enough about rural U.S.A.
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Old 07-26-2009, 05:37 AM
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,926,210 times
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Originally Posted by DFWAg View Post
I recommend traveling the state of Texas, particularly the beautiful Hill Country in the west-central part of the state. Go to Luckenbach, a town near Fredericksburg that is nearly a ghost town. It basically consists of a post office, saloon, general store and dance hall. People will just drive up, park, and play instruments under the trees.

Definitely travel as much as you can of the state and experience the most delicious home-cooked food and the friendliest people.

If you go down there, you simply MUST allocate a Saturday night at Gruene Hall (Pronounced "Green Hall,") in the town of Gruene, just across the river from New Braunfels. It's the oldest dance hall in Texas and the quintessential Texas honky-tonk. Cover charge is $10, I think.

Gruene Hall Official Home Page
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Old 07-26-2009, 06:00 AM
Location: Texas
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I've always thought the prettiest small towns are found in Ohio. I can't say why, but they are universally clean and welcoming. Greenville is a great example of such hidden jewels. From the Annie Oakley statue to the flower-bedecked traffic circle, the downtown area is like a trip back into another time. Small towns in Iowa are about the same.

I've noticed that in most of the Midwest, the most striking feature (for those of us from the West) is the almost total lack of fences. That opens up panorama's which you just can't find in cattle country.

Someone else mentioned the Mississippi Delta country and he's right. It's very interesting (though as monotonously flat as the Texas Panhandle), but it gets better yet if you take the time to study the history of the place before you go. And, you can visit the birthplace of Kermit the Frog!

For another unique region, try the San Luis Valley of Colorado. It's high country given over almost completely to the growing of potatoes. The small towns of Alamosa, Monte Vista, Center and Ft. Garland are farming communities and there's not much more to them. It's fascinating to me, though, and if you're going to travel rural America, you might as well develop an interest in agriculture because you'll be knee deep in it all the time. There's also the tremendously beautiful mountains which enclose the valley on three sides and The Great Sand Dunes National Park, where all that rich valley dirt has blown up against the mountains for eons. I wouldn't recommend visiting in the wintertime, though, as below zero temperatures at night are not at all uncommon at that altitude (about 6000 ft).

In the Northwest, take WA-14 from Vancouver to Pasco. You don't pass through many small towns, but the scenery is worth the trip.
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Old 07-27-2009, 03:08 AM
Location: Big Island- Hawaii, AK, WA where the whales are!
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If going to Yellowstone Ten Sleep I belive Wyoming is the spot, Aqua Fina gets the water there I believe nothing town with lots of characters plus travelers. Had the herd of cattle going through camp in am let alone at the base of Bison MT to it is the most incredible drive and pass. Did it in begining of June with blizzard on the pass.........
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:13 AM
Location: Eastern Kentucky
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Kentuky has some beautiful places. Having said that, there are many beautiful places in America. Washington DC is a great place also. Loved Texas.
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Old 07-27-2009, 02:00 PM
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Way back when in college we thought it might be interesting to cruise US 62 from Niagara Falls to El Paso. Looking at the map it seems impossible to drive for more than two hours on that road and have it be the shortest way between those two points.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:24 AM
1,297 posts, read 3,158,802 times
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I've had this privledge....

I worked for a major railroad out west and traveled to many different areas and every state in the continental US. It was really different seeing the houses from the back instead of the front that was for sure...

I cannot begin to count the track miles I have covered in my 10 year career, but it was pretty neat. From cleaning up Ground Zero during the aftermath of 09-11 which was ghetto urban, to flying into Thedford Nebraska in a puddle-jumper...it was cool.

Of course along the way my accent (deeply Maine) allowed for a lot of conversation with the local population. It was fun and I am glad I did it, and someday I will indeed write a book, but for now I am glad I am home and get my hands covered in lanolin (caring for sheep) and no longer ride the rails.
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