Thursday, June 16, 2011

Betty Takes the Back Roads...

Betty's heros and heroines are always taking the back roads...or wishing they were.  Yes, they do take the motorway when speed is important (that's when the Great Socking Bentley eats up the miles in a well-bred manner), but that is definitely not the preferred manner of traveling.

I was on a trip last week - one of those 1,000 mile 'bum-burners'.  I am personally acquainted, first name basis, with every sage brush between Rexburg, Idaho and Marysville, Washington. The ones that line the freeway, that is. Dr. van der Stevejinck graciously allowed me to choose a slightly different route home this time (actually, he graciously drives wherever I tell him...) - so we drove a slightly shorter (distance wise), but slightly longer (time wise) route.  It made for a nice change...especially when we found ourselves in the middle of a cattle drive.

I'd like to think that the Great Betty would have approved.

So, tell me, are you a freeway (motorway)  gal, or a backroads gal?
Cattle drive = awesome backroad adventure.
The cowboys were some kind of wonderful.


  1. This was a major culture shock for both Betty Henry and me when we first married 12 years ago. I wanted to take him from Philadelphia to the family house on the beach in Maine. This is a straightforward trip: I-95 to I-684 to I-84 to I-90 to I-495 and back onto I-95. (Taking I-95 the entire way is too slow!)

    Sense a trend?

    Okay, so Betty Henry says, oh, can we just get off the motorway (love those quaint Britishism, I thought!), in Connecticut and visit some towns. That's when I discovered his preferred method of travel in the UK: He knew his starting point and his destination, and the fastest route which was (rather like a fence is to a buffalo) more of a suggestion.

    See, in the UK, you can throw a stone from pretty much anywhere on a motorway and you're more likely to hit a village green than anything else. Make it a Superball -- the kind that bounces a lot? -- and you're guaranteed to be in quaint Betty territory eventually.

    But that doesn't work so well in the U.S., even New England, which is tiny in comparison to Founding Bettys' corner of the country. Throw a stone (or Superball, or ICBM) from an interstate, and you're going to hit anonymous woods. Or, in the case of New Jersey, a strip mall.

    Take I-84, for example, which makes a scimitar shape from the southwest corner of Connecticut up to the border with Massachusetts, slightly east of center. Sure there are tons of quaint towns in Connecticut, but if you just get off the highway in search of one, you might still be driving around looking for it hours later.

    Poor Betty Henry. He really struggled to get the American way of driving. We did leave the highways and byways, but not without a whole lotta map reading!

  2. My Mijnheer took a little two-lane highway on our honeymoon between Nevada and Idaho. It was a HIGHWAY and I was terrified every inch of the way that we'd run out of gas and be stranded in the wilderness. We didn't pass another car in three hours and didn't see any sort of town for even longer.
    Because that's what you get in many parts of the Western states--a corridor of civilization and swaths of rugged back-of-beyond-ness.

  3. Betty Barbara here--
    Mijnheer van der Tarheelin' and I have made numerous cross-country drives in our lives,so I know exactly what you mean, Betty Keira.
    We vary our highway choice, depending on distance and deadlines. (We once drove from Albuquerque, NM to Baltimore, MD in 3 days. Never again!). We both love to drive and will gladly take the scenic route. Indeed, we often plan our big vacations around a specific drive--like Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway, Natchez Trace Parkway, etc.
    We live in the great I-95 corridor and we loathe that highway!! We have devised several non-Interstate routes should we want to visit family in NC or Philadelphia.
    Hmm, all this talk is making me antsy for a trip. Maybe it is time to consult the maps and see where we haven't been in a while!

  4. Prof. Vue de Plane is a highway driver. I love the backroads and small towns with main streets. Fortunately for me we live just off US 12 (aka the Old Sauk Trail,an Indian and animal trail before that.) It's the most antique mall filled road in Michigan. It takes about 20-30 minutes depending on direction to get to the interstates. So I usually get my fix by the time we hit the big road. And when I'm alone I find the scenic routes, unless I'm in a hurry.
    But we were usually in a hurry, trying to get from Texas to MI or Colorado to Texas for the holidays. Some day, hopefully, we'll be able to travel for fun and stop where ever.

  5. Betty Barbara -- Come up here! I-81 is okay, but if you want an Authentic American Highway that pre-dates the Eisenhower Interstate System, get on U.S. Route 11 and head north. When you get to Kingsley, PA, turn right on Route 547 and two miles later, you're at our house!

    Betty Henry and I did LOTS of scenic driving, as we very nearly completed the 50-States-By-Age-50 tour. (We both turned 50 in 2006.) We didn't quite make it; we only did 45 by our birthdays. But his wedding present to Betty Ross & me was a cruise for all three of us to take to Alaska (State #49 - we just have Hawaii to do) on the assumption that why should a divorce ruin a nice run of mutual tourism.

    Last September, all three of us did Route 6 (famous for the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon) from Lake Erie back east to where it gets close to Susquehanna County.

  6. We are definitely backroads types if we have the time. One of the reasons we love the GPS is that it'll often plot a back route no one would ever dream of. ;-)

    My mother lived in Durham NC after she remarried after my dad's death. Durham is right on US 15, as well as I 95. Most in the family would go down 95, but we loved going 15, through all the little towns and farmland.


  7. Betty Barbara here--
    Betty Magdalen, thanks for the directions. I see you are about a 5 hour drive, minimum, from me--too far to get together for a quick cuppa. Rats!
    I envy your 49 states' worth of touring. We still have chunks of the country we haven't seen. The tough part is figuring out how to get to those chunks without a)driving over routes we are sick of just to get there or b)going bankrupt flying out to said areas and renting a car for touring around.
    Like I've said before, we need the lotto to come through for us!
    Betty Cindy--we LOVE US 15! It is one of our favorite routes to Chapel Hill(see note above about avoiding I-95 like the plague!).

  8. Betty Barbara -- We could meet at the Magnolia Cafe outside Harrisburg -- super nice restaurant with yummy stuff on the menu. That would probably split the difference in time -- and I bet they would serve us a cup of tea if we asked nicely enough.

  9. My bad: it's the Cafe Magnolia in Mechanicsburg. Here's the link:

  10. Betty Barbara here--
    I am sensing a Betty'sDay get together here, Betty Magdalen. Let's start planning!!

  11. Seems to me you'd go right by me, Betty Magdalen...

  12. Alas, not, Betty Cindy -- I'd head straight down I-81, and that's considerably south & east of your patch of Pennsylvania.

    But yes, I'm all for a Bettysday celebration at Cafe Magnolia. We might want to time shift it slightly, as I'm in Scotland (not The Great Betty's favorite bit of Scotland; we're on the North Sea, mostly) on Bettysday proper, but if we can do it before 9/9 or after 9/20, I'm there.

  13. Dr Lynderlynk and I are back roads people except when necessity demands speed. Have seen a lot of beautiful country in the western United States.