ROADS REPORT: Oh, the places you’ll go

As summer winds down, why not make that one last road trip to a place that’s out of this world

Blog Entry August 09, 2013

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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Road trippin’

According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, you took more than one road trip this summer—2.7 to be precise.

 

Harris also found that your top five road trip destinations this summer were beach locations (38%), city centers (27%), rural locations (23%), national/state parks (23%) and theme parks (21%).

 

If you still haven’t hit the road, or are just looking for a different way to spend that last 0.7 of a trip, here are some ideas.

 

Live long and prosper

Sacramento has been called many things, but usually not “the final frontier.”

 

Apparently that’s what city planners in the 1970s thought when they were tasked with thinking up unique street names for the Sky Parkway neighborhood on the south side of the city.

 

Feeling that the area wasn’t complete with Nova, Planet and Satellite parkways, planning officials boldly went where no man has gone before. Just down the street from Galaxy and Uranus parkways you’ll find Klingon and Romulan courts.

 

As you can imagine, the intersection of these two cul-de-sacs, named after Star Trek alien races, has been a road trip destination for generations of lonely basement dwellers Trekkies.

 

For the residents of these streets, however, the initial charm wore off long ago. “I want to meet the guy or the person who decided to do this. I really do,” resident Simone Kyles told KXTV News10. “I would say, ‘what were you thinking?’”

 

Pure and simple

The birth of the automobile might have been a game changer for road tripping, but the early horseless carriage was loud and smelly, and some communities actually outlawed what they saw as an annoying novelty for the rich.

 

Of course, over time most communities lifted those restrictions—most, but not all. There is still one place in America where cars have been banned since 1898: Mackinac Island, Mich.

 

Located just offshore of northern Michigan in Lake Huron, the small island of 600 was not impressed with what one resident called “mechanical monsters,” and in 1898 the village council resolved “that the running of horseless carriages be prohibited.”

 

The law still stands today, and aside from emergency vehicles, transportation on Mackinac is limited to walking, bicycling and carriages of the horse-drawn variety.

Visitors park on the mainland and take a 35-minute ferry ride over to the island, which can feel like a trip back in time to a simpler era before car horns and stop lights and road rage.

 

Of course, winter on an island in northern Michigan with no mechanical monsters is a whole different story.

 

Car art

Usually when you see graffiti-covered cars, it’s a sign that your road trip has run off-course into a shady area of town.

 

In Amarillo, Texas, it just means you’ve found “Cadillac Ranch,” a public-art installation featuring 10 spray-painted Cadillacs half-buried nose-first in a pasture. The cars are evenly aligned in a straight row, with their tail ends protruding out of the ground at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

 

The installation was developed in 1974 by local artist/millionaire/prankster Stanley Marsh 3 and a trio of architects. Visitors are encouraged to bring a can of spray paint and add their own artistic adornments.

 

While visiting Amarillo, look for Marsh’s ongoing “Dynamite Museum” project featuring hundreds of fake traffic signs throughout the city displaying random messages like “Road Does Not End.” R&B

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