In case you didn’t know, I’m usually a get-there-as-quickly-as-we-can kinda guy. So when Ann told me that she and Meghan preferred to avoid the interstate on trips around Nebraska, I felt a little queasy. The thought of trailing long lines of cars and putting along behind slow moving tractors with no chance to pass made my palms sweat and my heart race.  As long as I was driving, we’d be interstate people, I thought.

When we headed out on our annual Nebraska trip this summer, our first planned stop was in Hastings, Nebraska, about  77 miles straight west of Crete. We started out on and stuck to Highway 6 merely because using the interstate would have taken us 28 miles out of our way.

We made it a whole 7 miles down the highway before we had to stop to get something out of the back of the car.

We made it a whole 7 miles down the highway before we had to stop to get something out of the back of the car.

From Hastings we headed north to Grand Island where we spent the first night. After a visit to the Stuhr Museum the next morning, we set our sights on Kearney and North Platte. Of course, I looked for the quickest way to the interstate, but Ann had another idea: “Let’s take Highway 30.”

I’ve got to tell you — I died a little inside when she said those words. Then, trusting my wife, I  took a deep breath and reassured myself that we didn’t really have to be there by a certain time. I turned the steering wheel and somewhat reluctantly headed down Highway 30. Little did I know at that time that I was not only heading to North Platte, but also into a new appreciation for a different pace of travel.

First, let me say that my fears of long lines of cars were unfounded. It turns out, those stretches of cars were actually on I-80 and not the highway. We had the road to ourselves. Sure we had to slow down every 10-15 miles for a little town, but it was fun to actually see the towns, parks, and attractions that had always just been names on interstate turnoff signs before. Like this stop at the dam at Lake McConaughy.

Meghan had a great idea for a funny photo at the dam at Lake McConaughy.

Meghan had a great idea for a funny photo at the dam at Lake McConaughy.

Steve took it one step further (and perhaps, a little too far).

Steve took it one step further (and perhaps, a little too far).

Gradually, I became more comfortable with the idea of staying off the interstate and away from the rat race of that 4-lane nightmare. At some point, we noticed that signs that said we were on the Lincoln Highway, and not knowing much about that, we Googled it. It turns out we were on the very first road across America that runs from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. Who knew? With that tidbit of knowledge in my mind, I was set on staying on this highway as long as we could.

There are lots of interesting things to see and do along the way and each small Nebraska town gave us glimpse of something you just can’t see from the interstate. Sure, you can cross the 100th meridian on I-80, but you won’t know it. Driving down the Lincoln Highway, Cozad, Nebraska, reminds you of the crossing with a large, lighted sign and a street named Meridian.

The 100th Meridian is nicely marked in Cozad, Nebraska, which even has a street named Meridian.

The 100th Meridian is nicely marked in Cozad, Nebraska, which even has a street named Meridian.

Yes, you can stop at a rest area on the interstate for a picnic lunch with all the other weary travelers. You’ll hear cars and trucks zoom past as you eat. Along the Lincoln Highway, we stopped in the small town of Shelton, looked for a park using our GPS, and savored our lunch as we listened to kids playing and birds chirping. Remembering Ann had a cousin in Shelton, we sent a quick text and she and her daughter were at the park for a visit in a just a few minutes.

It was great to say hello to our cousin, Rachel, as we stopped for a picnic lunch at a local park.

It was great to say hello to our cousin, Rachel, as we stopped for a picnic lunch at a local park.

I learned this summer that getting off of the interstate and slowing down makes the trip itself be the destination. You don’t just enjoy where you’re going but taking your time you can also enjoy getting there. That 1,100-mile trip changed me and my outlook on road trips. There came one point where the highway was closed for construction, and the detour took us back to the interstate for 13 miles. It was awful. I couldn’t wait to return to the back roads and a slower pace so I could enjoy the moment.

From now on, if time permits, we will travel away from the interstate  — there is simply too much to see off the beaten path.

Have you ever taken a trip on a scenic highway? Let us know about it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

 

  • This is our Airbnb, Postcard Place. It's located right in Pawhuska, just a two and a half minute drive from the Pioneer Woman's Mercantile. It even has its own Instagram account, @postcardplce. ⁣
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Postcard Place can accommodate up to six people. With comfy bedding (including clean duvets for each new guest), USB ports by every bed, make-up remover wipes, comfy blankets for tv viewing, complimentary coffee/tea, creamer, full kitchen, soap, shampoo, hand lotion, and even a luggage scale, we've tried to think of everything you might want when spending a night away from home. Of course, we also provide stamped Pawhuska postcards so you can send greetings to those who couldn't come along on the trip.⁣
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Find Postcard Place on Airbnb and book it for your next trip to Pawhuska and come @visittheosage.
  • Perched high on a hill in Tuscany is the medieval village of Montepulciano. In the center of town is the piazza grande paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern in the 14th century. ⁣
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Standing in the piazza, looking at the bricks, we were filled with a sense of awe at the history these bricks have seen. They've been there for 700 years so have seen times of war and peace, celebration and sorrow. Generation after generation of townsfolk were born, lived and died, and all have walked on these bricks. ⁣
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This is one of the things we love most about traveling. It gives us an authentic feel for history, one we wouldn't have if we just stayed at home.
  • We were so tickled when @thechefandthedish reached out and asked us if we'd like to take a complimentary cooking class with them. They offer private cooking classes with chefs from all over the world that you can take right in your own kitchen. ⁣
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For this class, we Skyped with chef Paola who taught us to make strawberry risotto, traditional bruschetta, and a delicious poached pear dessert that blew our minds. ⁣
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Risotto always seemed like a difficult dish to make, but Chef Paola explained it so well that it wound up being pretty easy. We spent a great afternoon with friends, learned something new, and enjoyed a great meal after. A class with The Chef & The Dish is a great gift idea, as well. Follow the link in our bio, and you can read more about our class on our blog.
  • The world is a big place, and there's so much to discover. Go places, and see things. It doesn't matter if you don't have a detailed itinerary, either. Sometimes, it's more about the journey and what you see and experience along the way, than it is about the destination.
  • During our trip in Tuscany with @italyunfiltered, we stopped at a small family winery. After learning about the organic methods they use to produce high quality Chianti Clasico wines, we had a tasting. ⁣
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Wine tastings in Italy are nothing like those in the US. They are glorious affairs complete with delicious foods paired with the incredible wines. This particular winery brought us samples of homemade, organic jams made from fruits grown in the family's garden. We dabbed these on locally produced pecorino cheese. Yum!⁣
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We're so glad that we had a local driver and guide. Stopping here was a highlight of our Italian adventure, and we never would have found it on our own.
  • The village of Marsaxlokk, Malta, is famous for these brightly painted fishing boats. The design is rather ancient, possibly dating back to Phoenician times, though it's still used today because it is very strong and holds up well in rough weather. One feature of each boat's decorations, are eyes painted on the bow of the boat. These eyes are said to protect the people fishing while they are at sea.
  • The blue cobblestones of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, are actually part of a recycling project which started 500 years ago. Iron foundries in Spain produced huge piles of waste, called slag. Rather than throw these piles away, the slag was made into blocks which was placed into ships as ballast. The ballast was offloaded in Puerto Rico when they loaded products bound for Spain. The blocks were then used to pave the streets. ⁣
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Pretty good idea, and 500 years later, they are holding up well!
  • The Overseas Highway connects Key West and the Florida Keys to the mainland U.S. While the entire road is a marvel of engineering, the centerpiece is the Seven Mile Bridge, which runs over water for, well, seven miles.⁣
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The next time you're driving, reset your trip odometer and wait until it gets to seven miles. You'll see that's a pretty long distance. And then think about the fact that people built a bridge over water with no land to support them for that distance. Pretty incredible-especially since the first one was built in 1912.

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