I just got my new Rand McNally Road Atlas. To be more specific; the 2014 90th Anniversary edition, chock full of nostalgic ‘looking back’ over the past 90 years edition. I don’t know a lot of folks that are 90 years old, so being able to read about what happened over the past 90 years, as referenced in this memorable publication is definitely a great way to travel down memory lane.
I think what struck a ‘travel’ cord more than anything else [for me] was when President Eisenhower initiated building the Interstate Highway system in the US in 1956. After all, this really opened up the opportunity for people from all walks of life to truly tour America. Although I am not a fan of super highways, it does provide a quick way to get to the by-ways that take you to those out of the way scenic places.
So it began, America’s love for the open road, which; depending on who you speak with, began in Kansas with the upgrading of U.S. 66 (now Interstate 44), or Missouri where a portion of I-70 was completed. Regardless where it first began, as of 2012, the US Interstate system had a total of 47,714 miles of roadway; the 2nd longest roadway system for one country (China being first).
Oh, there still is a Route 66, made famous in song and in the movies, but I-44 allowed for more expedient travel for commerce in particular. Still, if you travel along I-44 in Wichita Falls, Texas, you just might spot the man-made water falls at Lucy Park, or in Oklahoma, where I-44 parallels US 66 from Oklahoma City to the Missouri State Line, then your destination might be the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum (an absolute must see museum filled with numerous collections of the Frontier West). Once you travel across the state line and reach Joplin, Missouri, a sweet treat awaits you at Richardson’s Candy House, a sure way to energize oneself for taking on Joplin’s Route 66 Carousel Park.
Unfortunately I-44 ends near the Mississippi River after it passes under the St. Louis Gateway Arch. What a wonderful road trip we had though, traversing the wide-open spaces in Texas, motoring along in southwestern Oklahoma and ending up in the Show-Me-State of Missouri.
I have to admit, technology is great, and I wonder what a lot of travelers would do without a GPS, but I’m still old-school. Give me a Rand McNally, a full tank of gas, blue skies and a sunny day, and no matter what highway system I’m about to embark upon, I am bound to discover a real tourism find; and the beauty of it is, I can easily find my way back home; thanks to the Interstate system created some 58 years ago, and my trusty map.