When we travel, we like the back roads. They wander through miles of national forest trees or by family farms with silos and a bunch of cows. We like motels recommended by friends where there’s a small neon sign that says “Office,” and a letter or two is burned out. The room key is real metal key attached to a plastic diamond-shaped ad that encourages you to drop it in the nearest post office box if you forget to return it. The assistant manager works weekends as a sound man and knows all the regional musicians.
He spots my case. “Whatcha carrying?”
“Gibson, Montana era. Weber signed.”
“Cool. You know Frank Wakefield?”
“New Camptown Races?”
“Yep. We grew up together.”
“He’s a player.”
“Toured with all of ’em, even the Dead,” he said.
We like old museums and historical sites. When you see a Shaker settlement historical site struggle to survive that borders on disrepair from lack of funds, it’s a little sad. It’s right across the street from a busy airport and two blocks from the Interstate where cars whir by oblivious to local heritage. Mother Ann Lee lies in a tiny graveyard. She came from Manchester as a young girl to escape abuse and exploitation, and didn’t fare much better here. I wonder if we’ve learned much.
We like to poke around in downtown book stores where an old doctor with a mandolin and a million stories is welcome to have a cup of coffee and sit a spell. We’ll stay in a rental trailer just backstage at a small bluegrass festival and campground called Strawberry Park. Ted pulled some strings to get us a prime spot. A night on the town is roasted ears of corn over an outdoor grill or a late night jam session at the ball field.
I guess we’ll never be world travelers. Our only reason to go anywhere is to meet people like us. They’re still around if you know where to look for them.