Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reflections from the North Woods - final edition

- The glory days of piling the family in the station wagon in the '60s and '70s and hitting the open road are long gone. Traveling two-lane highways back in the day seemed an adventure. We would travel through towns like Denison, Cherokee, Parkers Prairie and Menagha on our way north, often stopping to dine at places marked with signs saying "good food" or "dine here." If we stopped for the night, the motels went by names like "C'mon Inn," "Sleep Inn," or "Lazy Inn." This week's trip was marked by interstate highways, more orange barrels than I could count and seemingly ubiquitous "road work ahead" signs, fast food joints (Dairy Queen is big in Minnesota and the Dakotas), and a general sense that road travel just ain't what it used to be.

- Best signs of the week: "Mom's Diner" with a sign right above saying "Dad's Roadside Eatery," "Charlies: Good Food Inside," and "Retired--no more berries...sorry."

- Did you ever wonder where the whole notion of a "vacation" came from? In the United Kingdom, "vacation" once specifically referred to the long summer break taken by the law courts. Many upper-class families moved to summer homes, leaving their usual family home vacant. In North America, "vacation" ultimately came to denote recreational travel, such as a short pleasure trip.

- Friday Night Lights is still one of the best shows on television but this season's story line featuring Tim Riggins indicates that the show's execs aren't sure where to take his character.

- Welcome to Kansas City, Eric Berry.

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