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Archive for road travel

The Highway that Goes to Sea

By Linda Tancs

In 1912 millionaire Henry Flagler built what became known as the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad from Miami to Key West. An engineering marvel of its time, it fell into disuse after being badly damaged in a 1935 hurricane. It later served as the blueprint for the Overseas Highway, a span of U.S. Highway 1 from Key Largo to Key West boasting 42 bridges spanning the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. No wonder it’s dubbed “the highway that goes to sea.” The route is populated with coral and limestone islets comprising the Keys, locales that boast everything from yacht clubs to wildlife refuges. One of the best-loved spans of this idyllic road is its longest—the Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon, surrounded by water from start to finish. The highway was designated as Florida’s first and only All-American Road under the National Scenic Byways program, one of a short list of other roadways in the nation that have earned this prestigious title.

The Road to Hana

By Linda Tancs

Hawaii’s Hana Highway (Highway 36) is more than just a road; it’s the top tourist destination on the northeast coastline of Maui. That’s because the drive is filled with eye-popping scenes from waterfalls, lookouts and lush forest along with fruit trees, cane grass and verdant pastures. It’s a journey best taken in stages although you could blow through it in three hours from Wailea. If you choose to stop along the way, then consider the aptly-named Garden of Eden Arboreturm (mile marker 10), the lookout point with a beautiful view of Maui’s north coast at Kaumahina State Wayside Park (mile marker 12) and Kahanu Garden (mile marker 31), boasting a view of Pi’ilanihale Heiau, the largest temple in Hawaii. The road is often snarled in traffic; start before sunrise for the best experience.

The Gullah Geechee

By Linda Tancs

Gullah Geechee is a unique, Creole language spoken in the coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida by descendants of Africans who were enslaved on the rice, indigo and cotton plantations of the lower Atlantic Coast. Their culture is celebrated via the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a 12,000 square mile, federal National Heritage Area. From Pender County, North Carolina, to St. Johns County, Florida, the corridor comprises places of significance to the Gullah Geechee people both historically and culturally. Attractions include McLeod Plantation in South Carolina (the only plantation in the state to tell the story of slavery from the perspective of the enslaved), Harrington School on Georgia’s St. Simons Island (the main educational structure for three Gullah Geechee communities) and Fort Mose Historic State Park in St. Augustine, Florida, site of the first free black settlement in what is now the United States. 

Following the Carolina Coastline

By Linda Tancs

North Carolina’s Outer Banks National Scenic Byway follows the coastline as it juts into the Atlantic Ocean. Beginning at the northern end of the Outer Banks and ending in Harkers Island, you can drive its 138 miles without exploring the wild and scenic coastal landscape, but why would you? The area is home to two national seashores, four iconic lighthouses, two wildlife refuges and 21 coastal villages. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up the heritage of these maritime towns. Enjoy the summertime “front porch talks” by villagers in Ocracoke at the David Williams House and the unique flared hulls of boats in Harkers Island.

The World’s Longest Yard Sale

By Linda Tancs

Spanning the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, Lookout Mountain Parkway is a 93-mile drive with an abundance of natural wonders and quaint towns. This time of year it’s best known for what’s dubbed “the world’s longest yard sale.” A sight to behold, you’ll find over 5,000 yard sale vendors lining the parkway as well as the US 127 corridor, offering a staggering 690 miles of bargains on just about anything. This year’s sale takes place from August 4 to August 7.

The Beartooth Highway

By Linda Tancs

The Beartooth Highway is an All-American Road ( a special designation conferred by the U.S. Department of Transportation for a scenic byway) on a section of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming between Red Lodge, Montana, and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Once dubbed “the most beautiful roadway in America,” it zigzags across the Montana-Wyoming border through a series of steep switchbacks along the Absaroka-Beartooth Range, rising from about 5,000 feet to 10,947 feet at the Beartooth Pass. The ecosystems on display range from pine forests to alpine tundra, with snow that often lingers through the summer months. The breathtaking scenery includes high alpine plateaus dotted with glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. It offers some of the best motorcycling in the country this time of year.

The Road in the Ocean

By Linda Tancs

Opened in 1989, Atlantic Road is Norway’s answer to Florida’s Ocean Highway. Dubbed “the road in the ocean,” the 22-mile scenic route hugs the Atlantic Ocean, connecting islet with islet over seven bridges. Along with great ocean views, the journey presents the fertile cultural landscape of the coast across moorland to windswept crags. You’ll find ample opportunity for sightseeing along well-marked trails and elevated paths. Eldhusøya is the largest rest area along the way and is located on a scenic spot at the ocean’s edge. The road runs from Kårvåg to Bud.

The Pig Trail

By Linda Tancs

Arkansas boasts over 600 native wildflowers. Spring is a good time to watch them explode, especially along scenic byways like the Pig Trail. It’s a 19-mile stretch of State Highway 23 that passes through Ozark National Forest. The Pig Trail takes its name from fans of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks, who traditionally used it as a shortcut through the mountains to “Hogs” games in Fayetteville. The razorback (feral hog) is not only the university’s mascot but also a wild animal found throughout the state.

Wyoming’s Scenic Byway

By Linda Tancs

The Cody area of Wyoming boasts six federally-designated scenic byways. One of those routes is the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway. It follows the North Fork of the Shoshone River through Wapiti Valley and ends at Sylvan Pass, a mountain pass providing access to Yellowstone National Park from the east entrance. Sylvan’s sweeping mountain views (at an elevation of 8,530 feet) are just part of the journey’s charms. A stop in Buffalo Bill’s town of Cody is likewise irresistible. It boasts the Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill in 1902 and featuring an intricately carved cherrywood bar gifted to Bill by Queen Victoria, a fan of his Wild West show. Another charm in the city is the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Comprising five museums under one roof, it has earned the nickname “the Smithsonian of the West.” The route also features the Buffalo Bill Dam, a prototype for world-famous Hoover Dam. Its massive concrete wall boasts a structural height of 350 feet, and you can take a breathtaking walk along the top. No wonder this trek was called “the most scenic 50 miles in the world” by Teddy Roosevelt.

Following the Mississippi

By Linda Tancs

You may have wondered whether you can drive along the course of the Mississippi River. Yes, there’s a road for that. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through 10 states. Its designation as a National Scenic Byway is in recognition of the route’s outstanding assets in the areas of culture, history, nature, recreation and scenic beauty. The different roads and highways comprising the byway are marked by a green pilot’s wheel logo to keep you on track. Watch for river-related attractions and interpretative centers. You can take in the whole route in 36 hours of straight driving, but why not stretch it out for four to 10 days and enjoy the ride.

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