I love Sunday Road Trips….. picking a direction and just seeing where it takes you. These trips have to fit into an 8 hour time frame, so more often than not I’m trippin in my own backyard of Oklahoma. But I’ve discovered something while taking these cheap quick road trips……an appreciation of my home state and the history and people that built it. I have 5 great reasons for you to explore the towns surrounding your hometown and I hope that I can encourage you to get out there and take a look for yourself.
It’s Really Convenient
What can I say, it’s really convenient to explore towns within 1 to 2 hours of your home, but you still get the feeling of a major road trip. Road music, packing games so the kids don’t kill each other or send you into a sociopathic break, snacks, drinks and miles of scenery. But you’re not crammed into the car with your nearest and dearest so long that you start thinking about cashing in on that life insurance policy. And considering that these are usually fairly short trips, you don’t have to update that Top 10 Most Disgusting Public Bathroom list. BONUS! This past Sunday for Mother’s Day we decided to take a Road Trip to Shawnee Oklahoma. It’s about 45 minutes from my house (30 if I drive), but we weren’t in any hurry and we found some really cool sites along the way on the back roads. Where else will you find a junk yard filled with only 50’s, 60’s & 70’s rusted out cars, an old farm house site overflowing with yellow Iris or a Llama taking a stroll along the road.
It’s Really Cheap
If I’m honest, it’s really cheap to take road trips so close to home. We can fill the tank, go on our adventure and come back with enough gas for work the following day. We can choose to pack a lunch and find somewhere interesting to have a picnic or eat at a local diner, either way the entire day costs us less than $50. And as this is Oklahoma and everything is closed on Sundays, we can walk around at our leisure. If you wanting to shop, visit local museums and Historical Societies I suggest you go Tuesday through Saturday. But our goal is to see the town, stop at Historical Markers and Roadside stands, google the history of the town and read it aloud as we drive around the deserted downtown buildings. We stop and visit with the old timers that you almost always find seating on benches in front of closed businesses downtown. We want to breath in the town and marvel at what they were able to do in the middle of nowhere with nothing but an idea and the will to build it.
It’s Keeping It Local
What money we do spend is going into a local community. Paying to pick lavender at the Lavender Farm, buying strawberries from that stand, visiting the local Farmers Market, eating at the local diner, or paying park entry fees. And sometimes other people are encouraged to visit the town after we finish showing them our pictures. Well, possibly they just say that so we’ll shut up, but I’d like to think that I’m a one woman tourism department.
It’s Beauty Where You Find It
I am constantly amazed at all the things I find to admire about the small towns that surround me. The amazing buildings that were built to stand the test of time. The art everywhere….in architecture, murals and signs. Even a cement staircase that leads to an open field floods your imagination. What stood there? Was it a business or a home, who lived or worked there, what did it look like. Some of my most creative ideas that I incorporate into my own home or garden was inspired by these short day trips. You simply have to slow down and take the time to look around you and being a visitor I have no expectations to what I’ll find or see so anything can delight me.
It’s Feeling Connected
Every time I come home from one of these Road Trips I feel a closer connection to my home state. A deeper appreciation for those that came before me and the hardships that they faced to build their town. Look at what they were able to accomplish. Roads that were laid with bricks still as tightly packed as the day that they were laid. Buildings that reach for the open sky, industries that still flourish, 100 year old tree lined neighborhoods and majestic homes that still stand tall in the prairie. As I said, we visited Shawnee and Tecumseh, and got lost in Bethel Acres for awhile, and lost again trying to find the township of Pink. I couldn’t have asked for a better Mother’s Day gift from my family. We spent the day together, laughing, talking and exploring someone’s dream that has since crumbled to nothing but a field of Irises. We saw a rock castle and absorbed the trials of the Pottawatomie tribe. We talked to total strangers and left with new friends. We stepped outside our hometown only to find out that it is bigger than we imagined because we are all Oklahomans. I love this state and I am proud to be an Okie. Yes, we have our loonies and while unfortunately most of them seem to either find their way into politics or be the only one available to discuss the tornado on camera, we prevail because we are also filled with people who have retained that adventurous spirit that led our forefathers here, and the generous hearts that compelled them to quietly lend a hand to a neighbors in need. These Road Trips tighten my bond to my state and my fellow Okies. It refreshes my spirit, flames my creativity and encourages my children to really look at the little details that tells the story of these little towns. We are building memories, and I think that is the best reason of all to take a family road trip.
I hope that I have encouraged you to go exploring in your own backyard! If you have a story or town you want to share, leave me comment! I’d love hearing about it.