ROAD TRIP….READY, SET, GO! (part three)

The Auto Road at Mount Washington, N.H.

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Expect the Unexpected!

What makes a trip memorable? Is it always that everything just moves along perfectly, the route is well laid out, the food is delicious, and the weather is always cooperative? It has been my experience that while these things might bring you contentment, they don’t always make for unforgettable memories. Think back to your best trips.  What made them great?

Some of my best trips have been punctuated by some lodging that was a bit “iffy.” There was a little bed and breakfast in Abingdon, Virginia that had a room so small that when you rose up in bed, bam went your head against the ceiling! There was an historic inn near Joshua Tree National Park that was all about the charm…the only thing the description missed was the long moans of the howling coyotes and their pups as we were trying to nod off to dreamland. Formula hotels can be predictable but occasionally, try one that might turn out to be a bit quirky.

Expect the unexpected particularly if you go “off road,” which for many means anywhere off the route that Google has chosen for you. The “auto” road up Mount Washington in scenic New Hampshire proved that you can travel several miles straight up with no guard rails and live to tell about it, much to the surprise of my non-adventure-seeking husband. The road through The Valley of the Gods in Mexican Hat, Utah,  which announces at its onset the requirement of a multi-terrain vehicle,  was another challenge for a lowly leased Crown Victoria on a recent trip to the southwest. It was adventurous, to say the least, to straddle the culverts while realizing that you had not passed another car in the last fifteen miles and there was absolutely nothing else in sight but God’s creation. It was a “what were we thinking?” moment followed by some boastful pride as we exited unharmed and exhilarated after seventeen miles.

How many of you have chuckled at the unexpected places that attract tourists? Would you delay your trip to go see the world’s largest ball of string? Of course not! But, one of the most interesting stops was on our way to Page, Arizona , when we answered a hand-written sign to see “dinosaur prints.” Can you believe we fell for that out in the middle of nowhere? What a great stop that turned out to be! Our guide, John, took us a few hundred feet beyond the sandy pull off to a huge field of more rocks and sand. For tips, he told us of the history of the area and then showed us, you guessed it, very large and most definitely, a series of footprints caused by dinosaurs so many years ago. It was fascinating and well worth the cost of admission!

Food is always an adventure if you learn to enjoy the unexpected.  A town’s restaurant week in Lincoln, New Hampshire allowed a wonderful taste of buffalo meatloaf, and the best catfish anywhere can be found in Bluff City, Tennessee, assuming you are game to wander around a few “hollers” to get there! I am not very adventurous when it comes to food; just give me a cold beer or a salty margarita, and even a delicious greasy quesadilla. If the food is also wrapped in some great scenery, that makes the unexpected perfection! The Lumberyard Brewing Company in Flagstaff, Arizona has courtyard seating while a never-ending series of trains crossroad through town. Along with quaint shops for after-dinner browsing, it was unexpected sheer perfection. . As an added bonus, sample the Key Lime Café in Key Largo, Florida for a roadside stand with the most awesome conch or shrimp from anywhere! Coupled with hand cut French Fries, this is a true unexpected treat!

The downside of “unexpected” can be flat tires, slick highways, and traffic snarls that would make even the best traveler curse. However, if you keep your sunny side up, and look for the unexpected wonders, you will rarely be disappointed in a road trip!

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Navajo Guide shows us Dinosaur prints!                                  Key Lime Café, Key Largo, FL

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 bed Ridgewood Barbeque, Bluff City, Tennessee

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