“Just Down the Road” on U.S. Route 30– Ten things we learned


Ten Things Learned on a coast-to-coast drive along U.S. Route 30–

  1. Even people whose home address was on U.S. Route 30 had no idea how long a road it was, or where it went. It’s the third-longest highway in the country (3,000+ miles), coast-to-coast. There are a few rough spots where the road is being expanded, but in general, the road surface, stretching ahead for miles, is as smooth as your dining room table.
  2. Except for bare-knuckle (or white-knuckle) driving through a few big cities and rush hour traffic, the drive was beautiful– if you have time to wander. It’s not a road to take if time is limited or you just enjoy fast driving. In places, drivers can fly over the road at 70 miles an hour but beware. U.S. Route 30 in the east is a mixture of pretty country roads and annoying four or six-lane traffic. Small towns scattered throughout the midwest– planted there to provide support for the trains– force drivers to slow down or pay the consequences to city hall. york route 30 york small
  3. Don’t show up at a rodeo in sneakers, shorts, a T-shirt and baseball hat. The crowd of cowboys/cowgirls will collectively stare at you as if you have three heads. Then, they’ll try to explain (with a straight face, yet) why they jump off a perfectly good horse onto the horns of rampaging steer. When in Rome (or horse country), do as the Romans do and dress for the occasion. That includes a cowboy hat, blue jeans, plaid long-sleeved shirt, and cowboy boots. If you dine out, check the local menu. You might be pleasantly surprised and take the recipe home with you.route 30 road shot
  4. Wander through tiny towns (some with a population of two), stop at a shop and show an interest in the place. Those folks are as proud of their house, business, garden, or family as you are. That you stopped to inquire is often taken as a supreme compliment, unlike a larger city where your intentions might be taken as creepy or suspicious.  If you subscribe to the interstates, you’ll probably miss the Maid-Rite sandwiches of Iowa’s lovely diners, the Wyoming shop that was busily mining fossils, or Donna’s spectacular garden of rainbow colors.  Or the intriguing story of why Chamberlin’s store closed down (it had nothing to do with Interstate 80 being built).
  5. Trains are everywhere. Throughout the midwest to the Pacific Ocean, railroads (mostly the Union Pacific) won’t let anyone forget their importance. A train rumbles and whistles through one Nebraska town every 7.5 minutes. Bailey Yard in Nebraska is eight MILES long and two miles wide. One train aficionado claimed if our enemies wanted to bomb the U.S., Bailey Yard would be a top target because of its importance to transportation. Somehow, Nebraska being an enemy’s top target seems strangely odd.straight road
  6. Not every town has quick and easy access to doctors, grocery stores, car dealers, coffee shops or theaters. In one Wyoming town, the last food store closed four years ago. Folks there drive 30 miles across a state line for any services. The dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General) sit on the edge of many small towns and do a booming business. They are a small town’s WalMart.pa fog
  7. Online shopping (and generally, the internet) is a blessing for isolated rural consumers. Instead of driving across U.S. Route 30 to the store, sign on to Amazon-like shopping site and have it delivered. One delivery company driver said he travels 300 miles a day playing Santa Claus to grateful customers.
  8. Nebraska is NOT the longest 460 miles of a driver’s life. Think of it as a 460-mile history lesson (Oregon Trail, Morman Trail, Pony Express, California Trail) with the benefits of wonderfully friendly people, quaint small towns, and the always-present Union Pacific trains racing you to the next town.wyoming highway
  9. The historic and more famous Route 66 is not like U.S. Route 30. The latter is a complete and intact highway, although it shares pavement with the interstates, mostly in the west. Route 66, on the other hand, still survives in some spots and some states, but is overgrown to nothingness in other places. Some towns along the way were bypassed by interstates and then died. Most on U.S. Route 30 just shrank to a fraction of what they were.
  10. There is one burning question that remains unanswered– The Pacific Northwest is exquisitely beautiful. So, where do the people who live there go for vacation?snow on mountains trucks








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