Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Long Trip

Columbia River Gorge: needs a tea room with the view.

I have spent the first weekend in July driving over 450 miles for a family reunion, transporting young family members from place to place. I must have driven along the Columbia River Gorge and Cascade Locks four times or more. Stan drove the distance ahead of me in another car.

Road travel:  a long time ago the roads were "not as good" but the trips were better. Little winding ascents up and around hills, accented by plains and meadows with few curves made travel interesting. There were places to stop by the side of the road for artists and picnickers. How long has it been (if ever it ocurred in your lifetime) since you have see people stopped by a pleasant little situation on a road, having tea or taking pictures of each other with a mountain or lake or a cute house in the background?

(painting: Stephen Darbishire, available to purchase online) This scene looks like some lakes I've driven by. Buy this at Allposters and online stores.)

The driving is smooth and you never see a car broken down. That is the good part, but the bad part is the SLEAZY DIVES  you have to stop at for rest or essential purposes, that aren't very clean and have three times the price in an ordinary store at home.

(Painting: Stephen Darbishire, available to  online at Allposters and other online shops)

Because I was driving for very long stretches between stopping areas, I wanted to be able to look forward to a NICE, travel friendly, clean, cheerful and interesting stop, similar to Little America. That place was truly an oasis for the traveler. The gift shops carried items related to the location and to the weary driver the restaurant was a luxury.
This scene is like the lavender farm with hills in the background, which I have seen on a car trip.

(Painting: Stephen Darbishire, from Allposters and other stores online) I drove past scenery similar to this, thinking how appealing a nice rest stop, complete with luxurious amenities. So many people have recreational vehicles and trailers these days, so they may not feel the need for travel luxury, but the car traveler needs nice stops.

I always heard that you could succeed in life by "finding a need and filling it."  Travel comfort would be a great business to create in places where there is nothing to stop for.  Sometimes I would have to drive more than 50 miles before a stopping area. I was thinking how beautiful rest stops similar to Little America would make car travel more comforting, and especially reassuring for car of the car, fuel, bathrooms or just resting an overheated car.
(Painting by Stephen Darbishire, available at Allposters and other online shops) Familiar scene from highways around here.

The stopping areas should be refined and luxurious, but not overpriced. These places should all have a beautiful appearance, complimentary  surroundings.
Stephen Darbishire painted the perfect picture of what could have been a scene from a car. This looks like some parts of Mt. Hood.

It has always been the Wild West out here so I don't expect much change but it would be a dream come true for some enterprising people. And if you could possibly, along with gas, food, a lookout point and clean restrooms, include  a tea room on the way around the mountain, the road along the coast line, in the forest, high desert, wheat fields lakes, rivers and prairie, I would appreciate it. Could you please include the option of a take-away tea for those who want to turn off on a little scenic area?

Above: familiar scenery in this Stephen Darbishire painting (available at Allposters and other online shops.) looks like something I have seen while driving.

The car traveler needs to look forward to the next nice place not so many miles ahead where they can stop and take on the scenes they are driving past, unable to photograph or record while driving. Having nice places to get out of  the car often to stretch, remove a coat, wash our hands and in general refresh ourselves really helps if we are driving a long distance.  

Stephen Darbishire painting, above looks like scenes we pass while traveling by car.  It would be such a refreshment to be able to stop in a setting like this and get some relief from the traffic noise.  This scene looks like places around here alongside the roads.

Stopping by the side of the road should be an experience to inspire artists, poets and composers.
Wooded scene depicted by Darbishire resembles roadside scenes here.

In Australia, the picnic business is a very big deal. You can buy a any meal of your choice  in a box that looks like a basket, some of them created to be reminiscent of bygone picnics and leisurely car travel.  That enterprise has not really gained much interest here but it would certainly be another opportunity for anyone keen on pursuing it.  
It would have been a welcome rest to have a place like this to stop and view the beautiful view. Instead of whizzing past, it would be a welcome stop for a weary driver. Stephen Darbishire painted scenes that look a lot like places a car traveler would drive past.  It is a loss to the senses and the mind that there is no place to stop by the side of the road and enjoy views like this.  We have the scenery. There needs to be more places to stop and rest the mind from driving.

(Find Stephen Darbyshire paintings at Allposters and other online stores)

Those who have recreational vehicles and trailers with their own comforts might not demand better stopping areas, but there are still more car travelers who need something more. We get aches and pains driving long distances and need some great rest areas that take advantage of the surrounding beauty and provide some luxury to look forward to: good water, clean facilities, comfortable and pretty places to stop and spread your own picnics to break up long distance driving time, especially to give us refreshment to be more alert on the road.

Added 7/06/17:  It appears from comments other people have the same complaints.  If only the rest areas complimented the scenery (like Darbishire paintings). We have everything in Canada and the US, from farmland to rivers and prairee, and there are areas that look like some other country in the world.  It's a cryin' shame, (yes, I said CRYIN', because it is a tragedy) the car travelled is reduced to stops even an animal would sniff and walk away from.  Like one commenter said, at least in the days back yonder you could pull off to a scenic area and lay out your own tea party or picnic, walk around and breathe in the wonderful air around a spectacular view, and get back in the car feeling revived.  

What I am saying here in this post is that while I am thinking it is 50 miles to the next halfway adequate rest stop, I am thinking how disappointing it will be, instead of something to truly look forward to. Some of you might have been to Little America when it was an oasis in the desert, a relief after many miles on the road. What a delight it was. Maybe you know the story behind it.

If I owned the series or franchise I would call it A Pretty Good Rest Stop. It would major in view, cleanliness, comfort, hot and cold drinking water, shopping, refreshment areas where a girl could comb her hair and refresh herself.  For those of us who don't have campers and motor homes, how about a place for a reclining lawn chair to stretch the legs. When I get out of a car, especially as a driver, I feel I am molded into one pose, so it would be great to have somewhere to recline for a few minutes. 

If such an enterprise where ever realized, think of the employment for young people in such a setting.  

We have great roads. We have good cars. We need better rest stops.  A woman who spoke to our tri-county chamber of commerce made a speech about how the east and west Highway 99 across the country was dotted with beautiful stops with shops. The coastal road had old coach houses tha sed to be overnight stops for coaches and horses, converted to inns.

Here are more photos taken from the car by a passenger:


anonymous said...

A very nice post. I enjoyed the paintings.
Yes, gone are the days of leisurely drives and nice little roadside refreshment stations. There used to be many of them in California along Route 66. Some of them even had little museums or attractions. I remember in the 1950's one such attraction in Calif. along the coast route. A gentleman who sculpted sandstone images had a display of Bible stories and the whole exhibit was free. It was his ministry. He even offered soft drinks to refresh his viewers. I also remember an article in the paper about him. People always seem to be in a hurry and never stop to see these places.

My husband and I still enjoy going to History or Natural History Museums on road trips. On past trips I used to keep a daily journal of the day's events and photo albums of places we stopped. Its nice to look back on.
Thank you for sharing.

galant said...

I have found your blog via Fiona Ferris's How to be Chic. I've always been very fond of Stephen Darbishire's paintings. Once saw originals in a gallery in Broadway in the Cotswolds but didn't push our fiscal boat out sufficiently to buy one, sadly. I have a large collection of greetings cards of his paintings. I love the ones of interiors as much as those of picnics with a wonderful background view. Thank you for bringing his paintings to an even wider audience.
Margaret P

Christine said...

Dear Lydia,
It was so nice to see your post this morning. You must be worn out from all the travelling, but I hope you enjoyed the family reunion. I think the points and suggestions you made were spot on. Wouldn't it be so comforting to know such fine places of rest were available on these long journeys! I loved the painting too. So restful and lovely.
It would be wonderful if someone would take you up on your fine suggestion and create a small haven for the weary traveller.
In the meantime, we are grateful you are home safe and once rested, looking forward to your next post.


Lynn said...

Oh my could this idea of yours,Lydia,be any better??!!! If I had the funds and where with all, it would be the ideal 'business'...but more like a lovely hobby, to me, to create such a place for the weary traveler!
Your choice of artist is fantastic....I have never heard of him...what time period did he paint...or is he still a contemporary of ours?

Lynn said...

Did you take the picture of the first view?

Anonymous said...

Oh Lydia, you have shared the same feelings I have when we have to travel long distances by car. I wished for a clean and restful area to stop and just walk around a bit, but alas, the rest stops are dirty, smelly and well disgusting! And yes, the prices are quite exuberant! A nice place to rest for a bit after been in a car for miles and miles would truly make long distance travel more enjoyable.

Maybe it does exist somewhere in this beautiful country :-D mari

Lydia said...

Galant, I love Fiona's blog and so thrilled she moved to the country. Now it will be interesting to read what all she observes about that .

Mari, we used to dress up, even for car travel, but now the stops are such terrible places it makes you feel quite silly wearing a skirt and possibly a hat, getting car filled with gas, going into the horrid roadside shop, and bathrooms...ugh. Maybe people would dress a little nicer if the stops were more like mini vacation resorts

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

My mom and I drove 1800 miles alone from MN to CA. We drove over miles of prairie with mountains in the distance. We stopped at Little America in Wyoming and enjoyed a nice lunch and an ice cream cone. The restrooms were well kept and very clean. When we drove east, we stopped at the state welcome center for every state we drove through. Some were manned others weren't. New Mexico was a delight as was the one in Amarillo Tx.

When I was little and the family drove down to IL to see my aunt and uncle on their farm, we'd always stop at the Harvey House which was built over the Interstate. Each side had a gas station, a restaurant, and a gift shop. It was so exciting to sit above the road and watch the cars zoom under us.

I worked for an Allied Van Lines agent and if we were planning a trip of any length, I'd always ask my drivers which were the best truck stops to stop at for food. Some places had bad reputations but my guys always knew the best. Plus the gas prices for cars were cheaper than name brands.

I loved road trips. When we'd go to our cottage in Northern Wisconsin, my dad would give us the choice of picking which of the 3 routes to go. They were all scenic and we had our favorite spots to stop and look.

Huskerbabe said...

I loved your mention of Little America as I lived in Cheyenne for several years. Most people who live there don't even know what a nice stop it is.
I love your lunchbox idea. This could be a great idea for farmers markets too don't you think? We live near a large lake that attracts lots of tourists. I think a premade lunch might just be a fantastic idea!

Jaclyn Juliette said...

While I cannot offcially relate to the travails of a typical driver (I do not have a license), as a Manhattanite (NYC), I love looking at the pleasing nature paintings you included. I totally agree that your descriptions of ideal rest stops sound wonderful! (Based on when my husband is driving) I'm sure he would agree! As Americans, we should travel more within our own wonderful country...and our governments (state and federal) should include various picturesque, relaxing, roadside stops to encourage just that!
We often travel between NYC and the Amish Country of Pennsylvania but it has, sadly, a lot of depressing towns along the way. Why must it just be "extravagance" (Manhattan) and "pretty/quaint country" (Cental Pennsylvania) and nothing interesting in between? Why not line the main highways with beauty all along the way? I don't think I'm being naive to expect that ALL Americans want their towns to be represented beautifully, even if just along the major highways. Maybe it just might inspire a driver to pull off the highway to stay a while.

Unknown said...

It would be wonderful to have lots of small businesses that are clean and serve a decent meal along the major roads! It seems fast food or restaurant chains are about all you see anymore! The photos you posted were very nice and I enjoyed the beautiful artwork!

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

Love your photographs! For those traveling through the Columbia Gorge, I recommend stopping at Maryhill, a mansion built in the early 20th century by a tycoon who never actually lived there but instead turned it into an museum. It's not far off the highway and it's a nice opportunity to stretch your legs. There are interesting artifacts, including many donated by Queen Marie of Romania, who visited in the 1920s. There is a soup-and-sandwiches type restaurant (not as elegant as a tearoom, alas, but good food) with lovely views overlooking the gorge, but it might be open to museum patrons only. However, there are also shady, inviting-looking picnic spots on the well-kept grounds outside the building.

Lydia said...

Jennifer I went to the Sam Hill Castle/Mary Hill Museam, a few years ago. I was not aware of the restaurant. As we were on a family reunion schedule , no one was able to go, but Stan and I will go there ourselves this month I hope.

Justme said...

I so agree! In England, our motorways (interstates) have dreadful service stations, with overpriced fast food outlets.
On long journeys I always take a packed meal and a camping gas ring to make warm drinks. We English need our tea! Of course, we don't have the distances to travel of my American friends, but I do think there must be better ways to refresh the weary traveller.
I enjoyed your beautiful pictures. Thank you.

Lydia said...

It all seems to amount to the heart for true enterprise and for the care of human beings! Even in Bible times there were Inns and wayside places to rest every few walking miles. In pioneer days here, horses were brought to rest about every 7 miles, and that is where all the charming stops and wayside rest stations were for refreshment. Cars are better and roads are better but the service stations are just terrible. Should every customer register a written suggestion of something more dignified, it might help. It is possible we can do a lot of it ourselves, where tea and lunch are concerned, but we still need for proprietors to be responsible for sanitary, pleasant bathrooms and decent places to park or sit outside. So many beautiful views we are forced to race past because the only tirn offs are at the sleazy dives!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

You have certainly posed a great question about the conditions of the road stops when traveling. We have a little rest area close by our home and there are quite a few people who stop and use it, which is nice to see. Often we will see picknickers out there having a lunch too. I know in Texas there are a lot of rest areas, and some states are better than others at providing rest areas where one could stop and eat a picnic lunch. I enjoyed all the pictures you shared, what truly beautiful and amazing scenery you were blessed to see!