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Posts Tagged ‘tourist camps’

On the Road Again

Americans, they say, have always loved driving vacations.  When my parents planned a trip, it was always to go north from our southern situated home.  And as they planned, their concern was only for distance and time.  We never knew exactly where we would sleep en route and we just took our chances.  And Mom packed picnic fare “just in case”, with her famous hard boiled eggs, oranges, and yummy sandwiches and cookies for dessert.

Dad would spread out his maps on the kitchen table and mark off how many miles he thought we should go before watching for a place to spend the night.  “Keep your eyes open now,” he would say, “let’s find a good place to stop!”  Computers, cell phones, in-car t.v.’s and GPS systems were non-existent and in fact, never heard of and if there were any chain motels, they must have been few and far between because we never even thought to stay there or to book anything in advance.

I Remember Tourist Cabins
Like This!

When my brother, Steve, and I became cranky and tired of the eternal hum of the engine and being hot and sticky from riding in a car with no air-conditioning, or hungry and thirsty and eager to run and explore, our parents knew it was time to look for a tourist court/camp/cottage where we could rest, play, dine and hopefully, get a good night’s sleep.  Dad liked to get started at 4AM, so we all had to go to bed very early!

Yesterday, my husband and I drove on  U.S. Route 11, now a country road that was once a main north-south corridor and even now goes all the way from Louisiana to New York.   Once a bustling, commercial thoroughfare with an abundance of  shops, restaurants, gas stations and tourist camps, it has long since been replaced by a high-speed Interstate Highway System.  But like a Ghost Road, the highway holds secrets of the past, and if you take the time to look left or right on this ancient byway, you will see numerous remnants of another era.

Every time we take this route, I marvel at the old tourist courts along the way.  They are the kind where my family used to stay when I was little.  There it is again – the big main house where the owners lived and their little cabin-offspring spread out and waiting for occupancy.  Oh, how they represented mystery and adventure!

“What about stopping there?”  “How about there?” my brother and I would cry.  “That place looks great!”  We never did stay at the one that looked like a big teepee with little teepees around it.  But, eventually, Dad would pull in somewhere and we would eagerly inspect our overnight home.  I remember once we spent the night at a pine paneled little place with squeaky beds and linoleum flooring.  That evening my little brother and I stepped out the door of our private oasis to a world of fireflies and hundreds of tiny leaping frogs!  How exciting can you get?

An Abandoned Gas Station

Those old travelers’ courts were still in evidence as my husband and I drove along our Ghost Road. Some are vacantly hollow and crumbling like abandoned bee hives.  Others, though painfully small, seem to be occupied by young families.  There are many lovely homes along the way and parts of the old road have been designated a Virginia Scenic Byway.  But, every now and then a “Diner” sign reminds me that we might have stopped there once long ago. Or look, there is an idle, rusty gas pump that has ceased fueling anything but my imagination. Did we have a meal at that diner?   Did my Dad stop here for gasoline?  Did we stay in those cabins?

Let’s go for a ride!

Country Tip for City Dudes: 

When traveling Virginia Scenic Byways, look left and then right for the crumbling remains of another era.

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