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Take A Sip - Short Side Trips Off The Interstates

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I am thinking outloud here but there may be an ideal lurking in my musings. As I was responding to Roadhound’s questions about the route between Dunsmuir and Ashland in the US 99 forum, I realized that he had posed the real question for many road trippers. What can I see on the two lane that doesn’t cause me to go too far out of my way off the Interstate?

 

Like many places, Roadhound’s route between Dunsmur and Ashland is along a freeway, but old 99, and its predecessor the Pacific Highway, weave on either side. Some of those “weaves” take you to fascinating places along lovely old alignments….others are just old roads.

 

For example, taking Old 99 from Yreka to where it rejoins with the freeway is a 12 mile ride that might add 15 minutes of actual travel time to a trip between San Francisco and Portland, but will add hours of great family memories, as would a trip to the Cole Stage Station.

 

It occurs to me that there are thousands of places in this great land where you could swing off the freeway or interstate for a few miles of two lane bliss. It might even be that once introduced to the small towns and amazing sights family members would demand more of the good stuff. :)

 

So here is what my musings lead to. Should we identify our favorite segments of the old roads that “destination driven road trippers” can swing onto while maintaining their “forward momentum.” In other words, a sip of the good stuff.

 

American Road Magazine has done some terrific itineraries for longer adventures, so should we add some “Take a sip” routes as well. They might be distinguished by the scenery, a special site, or even a unique tourist stop, overnight lodging, restaurant, winery, etc.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Out here in Indiana, I'd recommend:

 

- The Michigan Road instead of I-74 between Greensburg and Indianapolis

- US 136 -- essentially the DH -- instead of I-74 west of Indianapolis; you can return to 74 by heading north from almost any small town along the way; there are several old alignments along the way if you're intereted. (Gotta make a US 136 trip myself one day.)

- US 40 instead of I-70 across Indiana -- even though 40 is four lanes and usually divided, it gets 1/1,000th of the traffic of I-70 and takes you through any number of charming small Indiana towns, especially east of Indianapolis. There are also a few old alignments to explore. You can get back on 70 by heading north (eastern IN) or south (western IN) from most of the small towns, too.

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Why not take a side trip now and again, just to break the monotony of the great interstate. There have been many times, when I was driving to Memphis and back to Maine on my yearly Christmas trip to my daughters, that I would drop off I-81, for example, and follow U S 11 up thru the Shenandoah Valley for a few miles.

 

I've done the same on short stretches of U S 70 between Trashville and Knoxiousville. And more than a few times have come back from Brinkley, AR, after a pet transport from Memphis to Brinkley using U S 70 over there. 70 is so close to the interstate that only a few locals use it and I can make almost as good time over there as I can on I-40 - and no freaking trucks on 70 either!!!!!!! Definite plus.

 

In the past, on trips down to visit my friend Cloyd in Mississippi I've used U S 51 instead of I-55. Again, the roads are so close very little traffic on 51. And a couple trips down to Clarksdale I've used the old U S 61 - 2-lane as opposed to the current 4-lane just to the east. Again, a 4-lane next door, no traffic on the old road.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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Jim, Alex,

 

Good stuff! Maybe we should try to figure how to compile your's and other's suggestions. A long freeway drive cries out for a little change up. I can see a series of books already. Interstate Escapes - I5, Interstate Escapes - I90, etc.

 

Keep 'em coming!

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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So here is what my musings lead to. Should we identify our favorite segments of the old roads that “destination driven road trippers” can swing onto while maintaining their “forward momentum.” In other words, a sip of the good stuff.

 

 

(1) IL Route 4 between Springfield, IL and Staunton, IL rather than I-55. Route 4 was the 1926 alignment for U.S. 66.

 

(2) The 4-lane Portland cement U.S. 66 alignment between Jerome, MO and St. Robert, MO via Devils Elbow rather than I-44. This was built in the 1940's to expedite military traffic to and from Fort Leonard Wood and features the famed Hooker rock cut.

 

(3) MO 96 between Springfield, MO and Carthage, MO rather than I-44. This is a former U.S. 66 alignment.

 

(4) U.S. 40 - Old National Road rather than I-70 between Vandalia, IL and Marshall, IL.

 

 

These are all fun two laners and great time travel.....Bliss

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(1) IL Route 4 between Springfield, IL and Staunton, IL rather than I-55. Route 4 was the 1926 alignment for U.S. 66.

 

(2) The 4-lane Portland cement U.S. 66 alignment between Jerome, MO and St. Robert, MO via Devils Elbow rather than I-44. This was built in the 1940's to expedite military traffic to and from Fort Leonard Wood and features the famed Hooker rock cut.

 

(3) MO 96 between Springfield, MO and Carthage, MO rather than I-44. This is a former U.S. 66 alignment.

 

(4) U.S. 40 - Old National Road rather than I-70 between Vandalia, IL and Marshall, IL.

 

 

These are all fun two laners and great time travel.....Bliss

 

 

This list reminds me of what I forgot in my last post. 8, 9, 10 years back I used to go out to Decatur, IL, on my way to Memphis to visit friends. Most of the time, going either way (east or west) I would use U S 36 out of Decatur to Indianapolis, then take either U S 40 or 30 just to get away from I-70. Other times, I would go north and take U S 24 across and pick up 30 in Van Wert (or come down off I-80 to Mansfield to 30. Or take 224 across. Truck traffic was/is heavy on 30 so not as enjoyable.

 

As I said in my earlier post, using the old roads was enjoyable - cruise along at 60 or even 65 with no problems and very little traffic.

 

Hudsonly,

Alex Burr

Memphis, TN

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(4) U.S. 40 - Old National Road rather than I-70 between Vandalia, IL and Marshall, IL.

 

How could I forget that one?!!? I'd go a little farther and say stay on 40 from Marshall to at least where it merges with I-70 just before Terre Haute so you can see more of the abandoned brick/cement highway that parallels current US 40. If you're especially adventurous, forget the I-70 merge, follow the Historic National Road signs, and stay on the old road all the way into Terre Haute.

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One of my favorite “Short Sips” is the old Yellowstone Trail segment at Snoqualmie Pass on I90 in Washington. West bound as you get near the summit, take exit 53 and work your way to the west side of the freeway. Turn north (right) on the side road which will take you past a rest stop in an historic building often pictured in old post cards. Continue on northward, passing under the freeway. Once under the freeway, bear left and downgrade following the paved Forest Service Road. You will pass again under the freeway, but this time only the west bound lanes.

 

You are on the old Yellowstone Trail. This paved segment is passable only when the road is snow free. They don’t keep it open in winter or early spring. The road will take you past very nice campgrounds and a trailhead or two. It twists slowly down the grade, reminding you of the old time way to deal with hills.

 

I think the Denny Creek campsite along the way was in use when the Yellowstone was in operation. John might tell us.

 

Just after you cross the bridge, you should see an original Yellowstone Trail sign on a rock face straight ahead.

 

East bound, take the Denny Creek exit.

 

Dave

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

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I'll add U.S. 90 from Mobile, Ala., to New Orleans, La., especially in Miss. where it is right along the Gulf.

 

Any town with a war memorial, including Hattiesburg (U.S. 11) and Canton (U.S. 51). Old courthouses are bonuses for some.

 

Some people like old through truss bridges--U.S. 80 in Hinds and Warren Counties, Miss., Old U.S. 82 over the Tombigbee River in Columbus, Old U.S. 81 between Temple and Belton, Tex.

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One of my favorite 2 lane sidetrips is the stretch of Old Altamont Road between Mountain House and Livermore that lies just east of Tracy in California.

 

When I am in a hurry and traffic is flowing at speed I will stay on I-580 over the Altamont Pass but when I have a few extra minutes to spare, or traffic is backed up on the interstate, I sidetrip to this 2 lane stretch of asphalt that was once the Lincoln and later US 50. There are a couple of postings referencing this section of road in the US 50 forum.

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