Road Trip Snippets

By June 15, 2009 culture, language No Comments

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like road trips, and those who don’t.

I like them. (Yes, I’m one of those people.)

The reasons I like them are the same reasons why other people loathe them (per my hubby, who would rather fly than spend more than two hours on the road). Here are just a few of the reasons I enjoy road trips:

  • An open road and broad horizon
  • Car snacks (Mini S’Mores and mini Twix bars . . . yum!)
  • Stopping for coffee
  • Hours of chatting
  • Reading
  • Napping
  • How life halts except for the trip
  • A sense of adventure and anticipation

Last week, I traveled with my mom and my sister and her kids to visit family in Wisconsin. It was a “quick trip” as we call it, meaning that we did not spend the night. Quick trips are typically 12 to 14 hours in length—a four-hour drive there, a four- to six-hour visit, and then the four-hour drive home. That’s right—eight-plus hours in the car for a few hours’ visit.


A vivid patch of flowers tucked between buildings, backed by a painted picket fence and tiny shed.

One of our favorite sights is watching the flat landscape of Illinois give way to the rolling hills of Wisconsin. Farms are plentiful in both states; each holds its own sort of beauty. Wisconsin seems to have more of those old, ramshackle farms, the kind with peeling red paint and tilting walls. In my heart, I just know these are ripe with story.

Our quick trip destination used to be Beaver Dam; now we go to Mayville, where my grandmother is living with one of my aunts.

Mayville is a quaint town of just more than 5,000 people. My aunt’s home is one block from the downtown stretch that is home to the town’s restaurants and businesses. We walked up and down the three blocks, looking at the architecture and wondering about small town living. It was quiet—not deserted, but definitely slow and sleepy, in a good way.

My sister and I enjoyed the sights as we took her kids to the mini-mart that holds the highlight of their trip. This is where the exclusive beverage called Bug Juice can be found. They drink sugar-soaked water, we drink iced coffees; I’m guessing the nutritional value is about equal.


An alleyway splash of color.

As I stopped to study buildings and alleyways, I wondered if the residents of Mayville were curious about me. These are structures and landmarks that have stood for years; did they see these buildings as I did? As we grow accustomed to the familiar, we can lose sight of the beauty before our very eyes.

There were so many interesting edifices; I could have spent the afternoon taking photos along the three-block stretch. Tucked along an alley I spotted this painted door. I love unexpected splashes of color, and this immediately drew me in. What’s the story of this green door? Who decided to paint it such an interesting shade?

Such are the mysteries of a curious eye.

Travel exposes the eye to unfamiliar territory. It makes me wonder what a newcomer would see in my hometown that I am currently missing. It makes me want to roam about my neighborhood in search of beauty that’s become too familiar to be properly appreciated.


A gorgeous bed and breakfast with interesting molding detail.

This bed and breakfast inn was lovely—it looked freshly painted, crisply done with a two-tone finish. The Audubon Inn is situated on a corner, exposing lots of windows and detail. The Mayville Web site notes that the Audubon was selected by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “Top 54 Great Inns” in the United States. Wow! Right there in Mayville.

A trip highlight for me (aside from snapping photos and visiting with my relatives) was the grammar discussion I had with my sister, prompted after passing a road sign near Sun Prairie that has been in place for as long as I can remember. It’s for Gus’s Diner. I lovingly mentioned how pleased I was that proper grammar was important for a diner in the middle of Wisconsin. (Well—shouldn’t proper grammar be important regardless of the locale? Certainly.)

So a shout out to Gus for knowing and applying the rule for possessives and sticking to it even when many are succumbing to punctuation relativism. Way to go, Gus!

And this is the sum of what I love about road trips: Random snippets all jumbled together.

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