I used to admire people who made “hitting the road” look effortless. It was as if they rolled out of bed, jumped into their transportation of choice, and experienced the world. These mythical beasts were meant to see the world and have an empty life list (I am not a fan of the phrase bucket list). They roamed and I would watch with fascination as I admired pictures and memories.
One day, I grew up and understood that travel is work and requires some planning. I wanted to make sure I experienced travel my way.
I am a huge fan of roadtrips. I love the drives whether they are solo or with others. I listen to playlists, new music, books, and podcasts. I always map out the drive to make sure I am heading in the right direction and how long it will take to my destination. From there I do a little research to check out anything interesting on the way or if there is anything that I am truly wanting to see. I don’t necessarily make an itinerary, but I will put them on my map and if I am so moved to do so, I stop.
This was the case with my latest trip. I drove from Philly to Knoxville to pick up Bob and his brother-in-aw, Steve, for a trip to Orlando.
Since I was solo between Philly and Knoxville, I took the opportunity to check in on some sites that I have been curious about. I saw the largest paint can! During the planning for my Knoxville to Orlando road trip, I made sure I had regular stops for Bob. Bob is a diabetic and needs regular breaks. I make sure the side trips are interesting and fun, at least for us. While surfing for information, I found 2 websites that really helped me with planning and last minute suggestions. Roadside America and TV Food Maps were truly helpful and easy to use.
Roadside America is a website for those looking for quirky and unique stop along the way. This is where I found the Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia. I also found a cold war missile displayed in a Krystal parking lot which is also on I -75 in Georgia. We had a trifecta of stops and were disappointed when we found out that the world’s largest peanut (number three on list) was taken out by Hurricane Michael in 2018.
What I liked about Roadside America was the reviews and the interactive map. The site was made to chronicle “nutty” roadside attractions. There is an area called “My Sights” where you can plan, select, save, share, and export your trip plans. The site is so easy to use with a state-by-state map, which I used to give the kids some ideas for their trip to Boston and I used to to map my trip from Pennsylvania to Tennessee and from Tennessee to Florida.The “My Sights” page has a nice tutorial to walk you through the process. It is unbelievable how many unusual and interesting sites there are across the US.
The other website I enjoyed using was TV Food Maps: Restaurants On TV. This site was even easier to use. There is a feature that maps your trip using a starting and ending location with how many miles off the road you are willing to go. This made our trip through Georgia easy. I popped the site up on my phone and we used it as a guide to find our lunch. This is great if there is a particular food show or host you enjoy and want to experience. I like it because the restaurants are juried by experts on the food channels. The place we were shooting for in Forsyth, Georgia was closed and we ended up at Grits Cafe. EXCELLENT alternative.
The devil is in the details and these two apps have the details that make road trips easy and memorable. I am at the point that I don’t just want to stop, run to the bathroom, grab a drink, and go. I am looking for fun, memories, and leisurely pursuits. We all looked forward to the roadside oddities and had a good time researching our questions, talking about history, and “back in the day”. I am still looking for an alternative to the peanut lost to Hurricane Michael and I am sure I will find it somewhere along the way.