I live near a busy interstate highway. I mean VERY busy! And while I am thankful for President Eisenhower’s vision of the national interstate highway system in general (no pun intended), I hate driving it. I mean I HATE IT!
Sometimes, I must. It is the best route to visit my children, who live an hour away. One evening, while my husband and I were coming home from visiting them, I counted 157 trucks that we passed, and I think close to 300 trucks who were coming towards us, all in the space of approximately 60 miles.
This interstate was built during my childhood. We had relatives in the city that my children live in now (still do, actually) and we drove there often. I remember taking parts of the “new road” and then having to switch to the “old road.”
Today, the “old road” is quiet.
And folks, I drive it whenever possible!
Not only is my blood pressure profoundly reduced, I get to enjoy the scenery and it takes me back to a calmer time in life, not only mine, but life in general. Life before trucks (most goods and services were shipped by rail, and that’s another blog).
Much of the drive is rural, and I enjoy that scenery. I pass by the old motels that once were busy to travelers on the old road. They don’t set empty, but the parking lots are filled with trucks and I will draw no conclusion as to whether these are long-term “renters” or construction workers, or what have you. The motels show their age, but I can visualize when they were nice establishments. Pools have been filled in. They are simply a place to stay now.
There are several camping parks which were “resorts” back in the day. Families were content to have a camper and go for a week. There were activities at these parks. Today, there are campers there—but likely folks rent the space and keep their camper there all year long, instead of having to travel with it. Today’s residential codes prohibit campers from sitting in driveways. I have no doubt that there are some inhabited twelve months of the year.
I drive through the small towns, and yes, I have to slow down. Visible from the road is a school where my son played basketball, and I drive by buildings that were once “inns.” One is still in operation, the others are private residences.
There are some not-so-attractive scenes also. There is an agricultural business that supports the nearby university. There is an auction house for farm machinery. These aren’t so visually pastoral but are needed by the agricultural community. I pass by many farms and are reminded that we cannot build communities on all these farms, or we will lose the feed and by-products of the farm production. Farming is necessary, and I don’t say that because I married into a farm family.
I drive through the “largest” small community, and the cemetery that my great-grandparents are buried in is there. I don’t stop, but I know it’s there. I didn’t know these great-grandparents, but I know the stories. I feel a connection.
There are places in the road where I can visually see the parallel interstate and see what I am missing. I smile. By driving the old road, I can relax and truly enjoy the ride. Honestly, I drive 75-80 on the interstate because I have to keep up with traffic. On the old road, I do 60 at night, maybe push it a little during the day. The difference is in my stress level, and that’s worth a few extra minutes.
I can actually drive to my mother’s apartment without driving an interstate at all. I usually choose to drive it for about 5 miles before getting off. I take the old road to that “large” small town, take a state route north to a country road and drive east into the thriving new area that she lives in. I am glad she lives there because of all the amenities that are close to her, but other than a couple of school zones, I have no traffic issues between home and her place. It is glorious!
I know that there are roads less traveled all over our country. Sometimes, we should just be in less of a hurry, and allow extra time. It definitely makes a difference in how I feel at the end of the day! I bet it would yours too.
Until we “connect” again…..
As you have probably figured out, the “old road” is The National Road, US Route 40, which parallels Interstate 70, one of our major east-west routes. You can have it!
The gravestones of my great-grandparents and two of their children.
|My great-grandfather John Bundy Hoover outlived |
his wife and two children.
(actually three, one not buried here)
|Nathaniel Thomas Hoover. He lived only six months|
without enough nourishment.
|The family lost a mother and child in 1907.|
The following year, they lost a little girl.
|My great-grandmother, Rachael Garrett Hoover. |
Note the date of her death. She died two weeks after
the birth of her last child Nathaniel. She gave
birth to ten children. Seven survived to adulthood.