Antique road trip
October 27, 2003 12:29 PM   Subscribe

One of my joys of going on vacation is to get off the interstate and collect a bit of an old historic road. In California over the weekend we managed to grab a bit of Hwy. 1 aka the Pacific Coast Highway past nature preserves, resorts and neighborhoods. Another goal is to do all of U.S. 50, the initial stages of which were reportedly surveyed by George Washington during his tour in the British Army. Wired has a nice article about how a journalist and a photographer ignored the advice of a Federal Highway Administration spokesperson to take a trip down Route 1 from Maine to Florida.
posted by KirkJobSluder (9 comments total)

 
Awesome! I just spent 10 days driving from Oregon to South Carolina on back roads. No interstate, some secondary and mostly county roads. Used a GPS to find the most in-direct roads possible. Best cross country trip ever. The best part is the people because it is all very local and no one expects someone from out of state much less not from the local town to stop so people are much more open to engage and talk.

One thing for sure there is a Interstate culture that goes about an hour off either side of the highway. The towns and people along the Interstates have a certain culture that if one didn't spend time off it, you'd think that was America. It does represent a big part of America, but theres a much gentler, kinder beautiful America away from the highway culture.
posted by stbalbach at 1:03 PM on October 27, 2003


Yeah, on one stretch of U.S. 50 I saw a grocery with a big homemade mural of Mr. Peanut shaking hands with Fred Flintstone. What bothered me about the Wired article was the attitude of the FHA drone who reduced non-interstate roads to just greasy spoons and failing Mom and Pop motels. Traveling on Interstates I'm depressed by the endless chain of McDonald's, Waffle House, Subway and punctuated by the occasional Olive Garden and Applebees. For people on a budget, the relative lack of groceries and comfortable community parks along interstates make eating rather bland.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:13 PM on October 27, 2003


See the very good FHWA collection of US Highway History: policy, highway advocates, engineering, and some individual routes, such as US 80 and the recently-deceased US 666.

Also see US 50 mileage sign pictures: at both ends (Sacramento, Calif. and Ocean City, Md.), a sign gives the distance (3073 miles) to the other city.
posted by kurumi at 2:00 PM on October 27, 2003


IF YOU ARE DRIVING ON 50 AND PULLING A UHAUL, MAKE SURE YOU FILL UP AT EVERY GAS STATION. There are stretches of 50 in Nevada that will span over 125 miles between gas stations without warning.
posted by LouieLoco at 2:08 PM on October 27, 2003


Well, for me, one of the great joys of any road trip are those mom-and-pop places. Because you never know what you're going to find. I once found an incredible bookstore in the middle of nowhere. Didn't know how the proprietor maintained his business. (But he did tell me that he relied a lot on mail order.) Nevertheless, I picked up several rare books that I couldn't find in San Francisco or Berkeley for almost nothing.

Granted, some diners can be a gastrointestinal gamble. But if you don't take the chance, then you're just as guilty as those who settle for Wal-Mart and McDonald's.
posted by ed at 2:33 PM on October 27, 2003


Having just recently had the chance to drive another good portion of Highway 1 out here on the coast, I must say that it ranks among the best roads anywhere.

My new wife and I drove from Santa Cruz to Point Reyes (missing sunny weather by only a day but it was still well worth the trek out to the lighthouse) and then south from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo.

The drive back north through Big Sur is truly unbelievable. Some of the prettiest coastline anywhere.

Backroads are fun and finding those little locals spots is the best part! Next time we're taking the motorcycle and cruising it in style!
posted by fenriq at 5:03 PM on October 27, 2003


LouieLoco -- been there, ran out of gas in a U-Haul.. I think the towns in NV survive with towing service and selling gas cans by not putting up warning signs. Isn't that the "Loneliest Road in America"?

Rt.50 from Ohio to Wash DC is truly beautiful Appalachia at its best.
posted by stbalbach at 5:44 PM on October 27, 2003


Regarding the article in Wired on US 1: except for the Keys, driving US 1 through S. Florida is not an enjoyable experience. There's a whole lotta Sprawl-Mart to crawl thru to find fewer and fewer interesting things. US 27 through the middle of the state around Lake Okeechobee is much more scenic and a lot less stressful.
posted by groundhog at 6:36 PM on October 27, 2003


I drive from DC to Charlotte a few times a year, and I usually take 29 instead of 95. Takes about 15% longer, but it's already pretty much all day (for me, anyway), and it's a much, much easier and prettier trip.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:53 AM on October 28, 2003


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