Growing up, my sister and I spent many hours in the backseat of our station wagon driving up to Kentucky to see our family. We played the normal games like I Spy, Find the Alphabet, and States on Plates, but we also read billboards. There were many interesting places advertised that we wanted to explore. The Ave Maria Grotto, Grand Ole Opry, Cave City, Lost River Cave, Horse Cave, Mammoth Cave...a lot of caves. We never stopped at those places because the goal was to get to Louisville before supper. If those sights were going to be seen, it was going to be on a trip of their own. We were lucky to get an interesting truck stop for a break in the travel. It brought disappointment and whining, then sometimes fighting that surely delighted our parents. It also changed the way I travel today.
Hub and I take detours. When I see a sign that sparks my interest, I take the exit, even if he's not too keen on the idea. We've seen the Grotto (fascinating by the way) and Lost River Cave. We stop at random farmers markets or garden shops along the road. We've admired scenic overlooks and read historical markers. Do you have the largest alligator in the world? We're going. Are you serving the best burger in Tennessee? Set us a plate, we're on the way. Is your town the friendliest in the southeast? We'll stop by and be the judge of that. Does this make the trip longer? Of course it does. I figure it's a travel day anyway, so let's experience interesting things along the way! We may not make it by supper, but we'll have an interesting story to tell when we arrive.
We recently veered off course and cruised through Vicksburg, Mississippi. We stopped at The Biscuit Company for a bite. This old building overlooking the Mighty Mississippi was a treat to discover. The waitress told us it was formerly a shoe factory. The biscuits were great, but the ambience was better. We got a quick history lesson, meandered through its brick walled rooms, and imagined life in another time.
Robert Frost wrote one of my favorite poems, "The Road Not Taken". He describes two roads he wishes to travel, but he can't explore both. They are both as fair and grassy as the other. He took one and kept the other for another day, but doubted he'd ever come back. I see trips as an opportunity for two way adventures. Take one road on the way and the other on your return. I know a straight line is the quickest route to my destination, but alternate routes make the trip more fun.
On your next trip, I encourage you to deviate from your path. It may take an extra hour or two, but seasoning your life with something new is completely worth your time. At the least it will provide some fantastic instagram pics!