The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had for them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost (1920)
This has always been my favorite poem. I like the thought of not following the crowd; of choosing your path because it is the one fewer people are or have been on, both in life and in travel. But what about the places where there are no “roads less traveled”? The places where crowds flock to see something amazing. Some that immediately come to mind are Yellowstone National Park, the Texas State Fair, and Hershey, PA. We’ve been to those places, with the crowds, and awed at the sites for sure. Our favorite trips, though, are when we we slow it down and enjoy quieter spots.
When I was a kid many of the interstates weren’t completed, and we were forced to take the back roads. We passed through small towns and saw all kinds of roadside stands and attractions. We had picnics along the way in roadside parks. Once or twice we were really lucky and saw the Goat Man along US 17 between Brunswick and Savannah! How cool was that? (If you aren’t familiar with the Goat Man, check him out.) Although I was too young to realize it then, that was a better way to travel. Later, when MW and I took our first road trip from Cherry Point west to visit the TN Jones Clan (since changed to the FL Jones Clan), he said “no interstates”. We stuck to that plan and had a long and amazing trip highlighted by lots of great scenery, small towns, and light snow while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We have plenty of friends and family for whom vacation is just “getting there”…the beach, the mountains, a particular town. For us, vacation starts the moment we leave home and ends when we walk back into the door. We wouldn’t run across Babe the Blue Ox or the crash site memorial for Patsy Cline while running 70 mph down the interstate. We’d also miss out on the chance to meet terrific, small-town people, see beautiful country, and sample the great food at local diners.
If you like a good road trip and have some free time, try slowing down and seeing what you can find. You might like that path better, too.