While I’ll admit that I prefer Interstate drives for those long road trips, I’ve recently rediscovered how much fun backroads are.
After Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Seeing familiar places from your childhood and early adult years reduced to rubble can do that to you. I realized, after several trips home to see family and deliver supplies, that I was having a hard time readjusting between what Savannah looks like and what the Panhandle is now. As an experiment, I tried using backroads on my trips to help decompress. It worked! (I mean, I still have PTSD, but this definitely helps me process things better.)
Since I grew up in a small town, these backroad trips remind me of being a teen and driving with my friends to punk shows on the weekends or music festivals in the summer. They make me think of the good times I had growing up and all the aspects of small town life that I enjoyed.
Don’t get me wrong. I love living in Savannah. Small cities are my jam! But you have to admit there’s a charm to an old skating rink or little museum for some historical figure you’ve never heard of.
In communities along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts, there are decaying church ruins and Gullah art shops to explore. In the Florida Panhandle, there are random festivals to attend and adorably weird antique shops. You just never know what you’re going to find.
On a recent trip to drop off my sister, I passed by the Suwannee Music Park & Campground. The last (and so far the only) time I went there, I was with my grandparents and my cousin Johanna. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, the Macarena was very popular. I think Johanna even taught me that dance on this trip.
I don’t remember much (besides learning a new dance), but I do remember how cold the water was in portions of the river. As soon as we get a camper, I want to take Josh and Vash camping there. I would’ve completely forgotten about that camping trip if it wasn’t for backroads.
As my trip continued, I passed by an old, and obviously abandoned, church with the doors wide open. I strongly considered going back and exploring it on my own, but I’ve watched enough horror movies to know how this turns out. My death would be the catalyst for my husband and friends to go looking for me, and next thing they know they’re being chased through the woods by a guy with a machete. And while I think death by black mold is still more likely than death by machete guy, I decided to continue on, live another day, and save my loved ones the hassle.
The rest of the trip was largely uneventful. No spooky encounters, no getting lost in a swamp, and I didn’t have to dodge any wild turkeys. (That last one happened on another trip.)
The next time you plan a trip, or just have a weekend with no plans, consider driving around some backroads. You might find a hidden treasure.