Miscellaneous Musings: Road Trips!

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Road trips come in two forms, the spontaneous and the planned.  The impulsive yen to travel can lead to exploration, pleasant surprises and new discoveries.  The planned trip offers the security of a reward once you reach your goal and arrive at your destination. Both offer the benefits of escaping the grind of a grueling and challenging work week and the surroundings that remind you of all your responsibilities and things you have yet to do.  I love that break, that change of scenery, and the scenic eye candy you get when treated to spectacular views through the window of your mode of transportation – in our case, the family van.

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Last weekend, our quasi planned/impulsive road trip took us to Vermont.  I knew I wanted to find the place that created some of my favorite herb dip and cooking mixes.

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Turned out they make the herby goodness at the address on their packages, but sell it in a little town not far from there. But the view from the top? Spectacular!

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Once on the road, the whim took us to explore every bakery we could find in out-of-the-way places.  Sure, by the time we visited some of them, they were picked over pretty well, but that wasn’t the point.  It was stepping through the doorway to the smells and sights of yummy goodness and being surrounded by comfort desserts and breads. We bought chocolate chip cookies at every stop.  Some had nuts, some didn’t. Some added sunflower seeds and pepitas as well as the yummy chocolate in various sizes (chunks to bits) to satisfy my chocolate cravings.  The cookies themselves came in various sizes and textures.  Every single one was a delight to try. No chocolate chip cookie tasted exactly the same yet all carry the same moniker. The experimentation and exploration was a delightful adventure. It was a great day.

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Road trips are always filled with promise.  What kinds of things make it fun for you?  Is it the surprise of seeing antique and/or shiny painted muscle cars on the road or parked on the side of a country store in a quaint hamlet in the mountains? (we saw that too!) Or is it the bucolic settings filled with grazing cows and romping horses? Do you prefer bustling cities where people watching is part of the entertainment?

Which do you prefer?  The spontaneous or the planned road trip?  And, with the introduction of GPS systems, do you find they enhance your enjoyment, or dilute the sense of adventure and the unknown? Me? Well, getting there unscripted is half the fun. But, I admit to adoring my GPS for getting me back home from wherever our wanderings have taken us. Unfortunately, the GPS couldn’t insure that all the chocolate chip cookies we bought found their way home with us too.

Comments

  1. Poinsettia says:

    What a fun post!

    I’m definitely a planned road trip kind of person. I have a horrible sense of direction, so if I go anywhere I need my GPS, someone who has been that way before, or really, really good directions. I don’t think the GPS takes away the enjoyment of driving. It gives me security while driving so I can enjoy the scenery while listening to great music.

    I’m not really a fan of driving through cities. The crowds and traffic make me nervous. I can feel my shoulder muscles bunch up just thinking about it!

    Scenery is definitely my favorite part of driving. I’ve taken some lovely trips through North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, and Wisconsin at varying times of the year, though Fall is my favorite season to drive around. The temperatures are wonderfully mild and the leaves are an explosion of color.

    • I prefer using a GPS and planning road trips for the same reason, Poinsettia.

      You can find the neatest shops, restaurants, and local museums if you have a general idea of where you’re headed and you research it beforehand. Googling that area first lets me know when they’re open so I can plan out my day accordingly. Some places close early, especially in small towns!

      Although I generally prefer to explore cities. I love watching all of the people walk by. There is something cool about being surrounded by hundreds of strangers while I’m exploring a new place. Sometimes you can even find great places to visit by paying attention to where the crowds are headed or asking a stranger for his or her recommendations.

      • Poinsettia says:

        I totally agree. You can find neat places by doing a little research beforehand. I like to try different kinds of food, so when planning a trip, that’s usually one of the first things I look up. I also like to check out cute shops and bookstores. I once found an Edgar Allan Poe themed bookstore called Nevermore Books!

        Checking the hours of business is definitely a plus. There is nothing worse than getting to a place you’ve been looking forward to visiting and discovering that it is closed.

    • Poinsettia – what was the most different in either landscape or plants or food between the Carolines and Wisconsin?? Did Wisconsin have cheese stuff everywhere? Or is that just a stereotype?

      • Poinsettia says:

        There really is a lot of cheese in Wisconsin. I was fortunate enough to live there for a couple of years. It was there I was introduced to cheese curds. So delicious! They were in every grocery store I went to in a variety of flavors with and without additional spices/herbs coating them. On restaurant menus, fried cheese curds were pretty regular, and very tasty.

        There is a huge difference in the landscape of Wisconsin and the Carolina’s, especially when you move toward the coast. The trees are very different. Lots of trees palm type trees and beautiful flowering trees and bushes like crepe myrtles. The air really feels different as well, mostly due to elevated humidity, but it smells different too.

        In North Carolina I was driving through beautiful mountains, which was a great experience since I grew up in the mostly flat Midwest.

        • wow – so curds is a thing , not just the nursery rhyme from Little Miss Muffet – Cool!!!!

          That’s amazing, that you noticed the smell. I never thought about that! Thanks, Poinsettia!

  2. I like both kinds, planned and let’s go pack a lunch or picnic and just head off. But for both, I like to have a destination – even if it’s only to see a waterfall or take a tram up the side of a mountain – Loon Mountain in NH comes to mind. Same with Lake Sunapee.

    The last place I went to I bought handmade soap from a little country store in Vermont. It’s a great state. I took one sniff and fell in love. When I got home, imagine my shock when I looked on the small print and discovered that the Lemongrass essential oil was from Nepal and the Lemon Myrtle was from Australia!!!

    I went to Quechee Gorge, also in Vermont, and they have this adorable shopping plaza there. More handmade soaps, this time from someone local. I bought two soaps, one made with olive oil and the other with goat’s milk – I didn’t know you could make soap with goat’s milk.

    In Maine, we did two major road trips. The first was to find as many lighthouses we could easily get to, and the other was to find as many forts that were still standing. Some of the history was quite chilling.

    I’m not a city person. I can people watch at a mall, or even, heh, Walmart. I love green, wide open spaces and New York has some amazing landscapes too. I agree with Poinsettia – the fall colors make for some amazing views and pictures. It’s the only part my sister, who now lives in FL, misses from New England – our fall.

    I agree with both Poinsettia and Astilbe- GPS makes traveling much less stressful so you can concentrate on the fun!!!

    • Ooh, those handmade soaps sound nice. You definitely do have to read the fine print, though. I’ve found products that say they’re “Made in X” on the front, but the back of their package will say that only a portion of the product was actually made in that country.

      Once I even found something that said it was made in country X because that’s where the label was printed. Very tricky stuff!

      Local history is wonderful, though, Michele. I love learning about when a town was founded or why that community has legends about a certain building being haunted. You can learn a lot about a town by paying attention to what it is they’re found important enough to write on a plaque or tell a historical re-enactor to emphasize.

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