COBWEB CORNERS: Getting off the Interstate
By Mel McFarland
Back before the radio was in about every car, traveling across country was rather boring, even to adults. I just got back from traveling across our country and I have been doing this, 50 years that I can remember. As a kid, there was not a radio in our car, so we paid attention to what was around us as we traveled. Kansas can be quite dull. Outside of the tower where you can see five states, a two-headed calf, the biggest prairie dog or some other novelty, there might not be much to look at. Some places still want to draw you in off the Interstate, but others are not so interested.
I like to travel the old routes, bypassed by Interstates, unless I am in a hurry to get someplace. You see a lot more interesting things that way. On this last trip, I drove several sections of the original Route 66 in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. We are fortunate that examples of how it changed over the years have been preserved. I have even driven the road that became 66 in Arizona, which had large parts of it bypassed when the new and improved paved 66 was built. You don't see the old signs along the road anymore; the highway signs have all been stolen or rusted away. A few billboards have survived, but no Burma Shave signs.
There are some interesting places to visit off the beaten track if you look for them. I have seen Jefferson Davis' house in Biloxi, Mississippi - both the original and the re-creation built after Hurricane Katrina (which looks the same, almost). I have seen Jefferson Davis' jail cell at Ft. Monroe, Virginia, where he spent time after the war. I have seen the Yorktown battlefields of the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Standing in the forests of Virginia watching their brilliant fall colors, I've been just about ready to see a Union or Confederate soldier step out from behind a tree. I can understand why some have sworn up and down they saw parts of the battle at Gettysburg, only to blink and it was not there!
People who fly over this great country of ours, unable to take the time to see the little things that make it up, will never know what they missed. I enjoy talking to the foreign tourists visiting in this area because they are seeing parts of our country that a huge number of Americans will never take the time to notice.