On the next road trip, turn off the GPS and take the road less traveled

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  • An armed forces memorial in Arcade, Ga. (Photo by Todd DeFeo) An armed forces memorial in Arcade, Ga. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)
  • A field of concrete corn in Dublin, Ohio (Photo by Todd DeFeo) A field of concrete corn in Dublin, Ohio (Photo by Todd DeFeo)
  • Granville, Ohio (Photo by Todd DeFeo) Granville, Ohio (Photo by Todd DeFeo)
  • Fried chicken at Sybil's Family Restaurant in Jesup, Ga. (Photo by Todd DeFeo) Fried chicken at Sybil's Family Restaurant in Jesup, Ga. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)
  • Christ Chapel in Memorial Park is remarkable not for its size, but because of its small stature (Photo by Todd DeFeo). Christ Chapel in Memorial Park is remarkable not for its size, but because of its small stature (Photo by Todd DeFeo). Photo by: Picasa

JESUP, Ga., Aug. 22, 2012 — When it comes to taking a trip, far too often the GPS rules the day.

We turn to this little electronic device as though it’s some sort of omniscient power that will guide us and watch over us. We override our gut instincts and blindly follow a device with outdated maps that might actually lead us off the side of a cliff.

But, we will make great time in falling off the cliff.

In a way, it makes sense; it’s hard enough to break away from the office, and smart phones keep us connected in real time on a 24/7 basis. Traveling has become all about finding the quickest route to the final destination so we can maximize the amount of pool or beach time.

The giant dinosaur is a frequent roadside oddity.

The giant dinosaur is a frequent roadside oddity.

What if, for a moment, we took a literal and figurative detour?

While it might sound cliche, there is something to be said about that age-old adage: “It’s the journey, not the destination.” Or, as Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Making a journey a little more the experience and a little less the journey isn’t that difficult; it just takes stepping back and re-thinking what it means to travel.

With that in mind, here are five tips for making the most of any journey where time isn’t of the essence:

  • If the GPS offers up two routes: one with interstates and one without, take the one without. Back roads are the backbone of this country; there are a thousand stories waiting to be discovered, and they aren’t along the interstates.
  • If there is a random roadside oddity — i.e. a field of concrete corn, a surplus Titan I missile from the Cold War or a cobra attack helicopter mounted high above a war memorial — stop and explore.
  • Read the monuments scattered throughout town or on the courthouse lawn. Chances are, they tell of interesting stories that helped shape the town or the local heroes who fought in wars in faraway lands.
  • Road side signs provide information known and unknown

    Road side signs provide information known and unknown

  • Don’t be afraid to wander into that locally owned roadhouse and order outside of your comfort zone. You might actually enjoy the eats.
  • If the waitress in the locally owned eatery says to try the fried chicken, try the fried chicken. It’s a good bet she knows what she’s talking about.
  • Experience the country from the back roads, and make unexpected detours through small towns.

As the late great Levon Helm once said: “I never subscribe to the stay-at-home policy. I’m not sick of the road or sick of eating in good restaurants around the country. I like to travel.”

That’s a philosophy we should all follow.

Todd DeFeo is a former award-winning reporter and a wanderlust. He is editor of Railfanning.org and thetraveltrolley.com.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.

 

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