Thursday, June 11, 2009
My Review: Off the Beaten Path
When I was a kid, every summer my folks would load all five of us kids up in the station wagon and we'd head from Mississippi to Wisconsin for two weeks at my grandparents' house where we would visit with relatives of all sorts and ages. It was a long two day drive and it didn't allow time for sightseeing. A couple of times, they made the decision to take three days to make the trip, so we could stop and see something other than interstate highways and corn fields, but stopping was the exception, not the rule. We'd travel down the interstate and while I wanted to stop and see the big stuff--the Arch in St. Louis comes to mind--I also wanted to stop and see the little stuff--the caves, canyons, museums, shrines and other small things advertised on those roadside signs.
As a young single adult one year I took a trip where I drove from Louisiana up into Arkansas. I stopped where I wanted to stop, saw what I wanted to see and loved every minute of it. Last year I went to Wisconsin for a family reunion. I rented a car in Minneapolis and drove to Durand WI, but instead of getting on I-94 and getting there quickly, I wandered through cornfields and small towns. I stopped at the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Pepin, admired Lake Pepin, and enjoyed a Minnesota state park that was right outside the airport. A few years ago my family drove from New Orleans to Lafayette LA taking the old road rather than I-10. We stopped at an aviation museum in the middle of a sugar cane field and saw the house of a former Supreme Court justice.
Our country is huge and there is a lot to see, and not all of it makes the front pages of travel books. Off the Beaten Path covers those smaller attractions, though many of them are not unknown. Here in New Orleans, they mention the WWII Museum (which is certainly not a minor attraction IMO) and the Audubon Insectarium, which is run by the same folks who run our world-class zoo and aquarium. Wildlife reserves get mentioned in several states and even some of the lesser known national parks are listed. There is a teapot museum, a cotton museum, a museum of Tibetan art, and enough forts to start an army.
Each state has a listing of fifteen to twenty attractions. The symbols for such things as handicapped, picnicking, hiking, camping etc. are after each attraction. There is a map showing the major roads in the state and a listing of seasonal events. Did you know that Jamestown North Dakota had a Kite Festival in June? Now you do.
The book itself is hard covered with glossy thick paper. It is illustrated with photographs of some of the attractions and colored ink is used to mark the states. Besides being a handy reference for trip planning, this is an attractive coffee table type book.
Thanks to FSB for providing a review copy. Lots of books come into my house. Only a few take up permanent residence; this will be one of the few.
For more off-the-beaten path travel ideas, see their website. Meet the author.