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Tag-Archive for "road trip"

Unconventional vacation spot 4—Wall Drug Jan 18

Serenity Travel is 1621 miles from Wall Drug, and it’s thataway. You can find signs reading “Wall Drug xxxx miles” with an arrow pointing the appropriate direction all over the world. Even in Antarctica (they have a picture to prove it—one of thousands of similar photos from all over.) Even better, here’s the photo:

The story goes that in the 1930′s, during the dust bowl, this young couple bought the drug store in Wall, SD. To encourage people to stop as they drove by on the nearby US highway (back in those days they were routes, marked by signs. The idea was you could get anywhere by following the signs if you knew the route numbers.). They hit on the idea of being cute–they put up signs along the highway advertising free water. It worked, and today the Wall drug store is the grandaddy of all tourist traps. You can pose next to a lifelike statue of a mean-looking cowboy or on a bucking bronco (also a statue). Gifts and souvenirs galore. A decent restaurant. Clothing and crafts. You won’t miss it—the interstate has a string of signs that goes for miles. And you can still get free water.

The locals still use it as their drug store, too

Something else to do in Chicago 4 Dec 04

Our family has a tradition of visiting Brookfield Zoo on Thanksgiving afternoon. Admission (not parking, though) is free, and our clan is big enough to justify waiting for the free day.  The place wasn’t crowded; perhaps everyone else was out shopping, watching football, or sleeping.

Brookfield Zoo is not a traditional zoo. No cages with tigers pacing back and forth all day long. The zoo is a collection of large buildings with large, natural-feeling environments for the animals. Frequently several species share an area. It’s the humans who are confined, to paths with barriers. You can find plenty of signs describing the animals, and a fair number of interactive displays for children. Our favorite joke was the danger of having the kids get mixed in with the monkeys.

One of the interactive exhibits. Lousiana bayou environment.

One of the interactive exhibits. Louisiana bayou environment.

Speaking of kids, we let them use the video camera and my Nikon DSLR. Both devices paid for themselves in entertainment value, they didn’t get broken, and the kids paid close attention to the exhibits. The even got a few pretty good pictures. Consider a having a digital camera handy just for the children about seven and up when you go on a trip.

We did some shopping, but you probably don’t need a description of how to do that. But here’s a picture anyway. The Lego store was the busiest one we visited.

The guy on the left is made from Lego.

The guy on the left is made from Lego.

That’s about all for the Chicago trip. I hope you picked up a few travel tips. Please share your tips in the comments.

Try not to get lost Nov 26

One of the rules for going on a road trip is not to get lost. We had the prospect of driving more than 12 hours from the east coast to Chicago, in the rain, on the day before Thanksgiving, during the morning rush at our starting point, and during the evening rush at the destination. Sounds like fun, eh?

Get a GPS! Carry an atlas for backup. Our GPS served us well; we drove straight to the goal without a hiccup. Yes, the weather was miserable, yes we ate mainly junk while we were on the road. Yes the trip consumed three tanks of gas.

But yes, we were relaxed: We had plenty of time for the trip (we didn’t tell them when we would arrive), and we swapped driving chores agreeably. She likes to have me read to her while she drives, and I like to read aloud. Makes the hours and miles go quickly, and we polish off a book in the process. And I remembered to take an anti-car-sickness pill.

They were glad to see us when we arrived. What could be better?

Preparing for a road trip Nov 25

Rule 1: Don’t do too many things the day before you leave. Save the day for packing, clean up the house a bit, and head out a little ahead of schedule in a nice, relaxed frame of mind. And what planet does this happen on? I butchered and cleaned a dozen turkeys and eight pheasants (no lie) at a farm about an hour away. We had to finish the laundry. Relatives came to stay the week—they are going to hold Thanksgiving dinner for the kids and a dozen extended family while we are gone. Oh yes. The turkey is for our neighbors (best neighbors in the world) instead of for ourselves because the relatives cooking the turkey (that’s another set of relatives besides the ones staying the week) live out of town and they didn’t want to cook a turkey in a strange kitchen, so they’re cooking one at their place and bringing it down. (Imagine that! Passing up a farm-grown hand-picked turkey for a familiar kitchen!) Then there’s loading up the truck with the furniture we’re delivering. I measured and it’ll just fit. And we had at least three student-age person-activity deliveries, and a trip to the grocer. Didn’t get to the feed store to pick up feed for the chickens, so I gave detailed instructions to our house guests on what to get. Oh yes—we have been working on some gifts to bring along, so we had to paint, then fire several pieces of porcelain in the kiln early enough so things could cool down before we packed them. We finally crashed about an hour past bedtime.

Rule 2. Get plenty of sleep the night before. Yeah, right.

Rule 3: Don’t worry if you leave later than planned. We had things pretty ready by the time we got to bed the night before, so we left only half an hour behind schedule, and felt pretty good about it. So we have this rule down in spades.

Rule 3: Don’t get lost. Watch the following posts to see how we fared.

Have you been everywhere? (road trips part 3) Oct 23

The world has, let’s say, 50 million places to visit. (Earth’s area is rather more than 200 million square miles, maybe 25% is land area. We could, in theory, say each square mile is a place to visit. Give or take.) You’re not likely to see them all. (Lessee—a one minute visit to each “place” would take you more than 90 years to visit every place. That’s 24 hours a day, too.) This blog’s sister site, What’s your destination? mentions a few of them. (Don’t be too critical–it’s just getting started). You can also Google about any place name you like and get more information than you’re likely to need.

So let’s not try to cover destinations here.

How about no destination? They say (It’s a Zen saying, by the way) the journey is the destination. This kind of road trip can be relaxing, unless you’re one of those goal-oriented types who just has to be headed somewhere. The trick is to have more time available than you need to get someplace (or get back), and try to take that whole time. If you can convince yourself that you have PLENTY of time, you will go slower, watch what’s going on more, meander more (turn off on side roads), maybe stop and check things out more. You’ll arrive (or return) more relaxed and refreshed than you would believe. Give it a try, then comment below. No hurry.

(Did you catch the allusion to the song in the title of this post?)

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