On The Road

By Patrick Piper

They connect north with south, strangers with friends, families with each other, work with play, and boats with water. In between, I-75 and I-95 cover a lot of road.

Map of US Interstates 95 and 75

There's always been a movement away from snowstorms and toward sunshine. Decades ago, the trek required a day or two by train; now, making the drive on one of the more than 200 interstates in the country can take less than 24 hours. For some, it's a simple activity: Leave Point A and get to Point B as soon as possible. For others, it's an adventure of stopping along the way.

Many people in the Midwest travel Interstate 75 to get to Florida's Gulf Coast, although it actually makes a sharp easterly turn ending north of Miami. Interstate 95 is the busiest highway of all with as many as 300,000 cars and trucks scattered somewhere along its 1,197 miles from Maine to Miami. It's been said that the best story about traveling on an interstate is no story at all because everything goes according to plan. Trailering Club members Jeff & Suzy Nicholas log thousands of miles pulling their 18-foot Seaswirl hoping for exactly that.

Dave Hunter, and Stan and Sandra Phillips Posner however, are exceptions to the rule. For these folks, it's the journey that counts; they've collected stories from the road over the years and put them in writting. Hunter has been driving I-75 for 45 years and just completed the 16th edition of Along I-75, while the Posners will have a new edition of Drive I-95 available next month. These folks have built careers exploring these north-south asphalt spines.

Interstate 75

  • 1,786 miles
  • States: 6
  • Northernmost Point: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
  • Southernmost Point: Hialeah, Florida
  • Total Exits: 589

Interstate 95

  • 1,927 miles
  • States: 16 (including Washington, D.C.)
  • Northernmost Point: Houlton, Maine
  • Southernmost Point: Miami, Florida
  • Total Exits: 605

Interstate Facts

  • Exit numbers get higher going north but always change back to Exit 1 when crossing state lines.
  • Even numbers go east to west while odd numbers go north to south.
  • Four state capitals are not served by the Interstate Highway System (Juneau, Alaska; Dover, Delaware; Pierre, South Dakota; and Jefferson City, Missouri).

Dave Hunter's I-75 Food Favorites

  • Athens, Tennessee, Exit 52, Mayfield Dairy (www.mayfielddairy.com).
    This is the place Dave stops for an ice cream fix, and a lot of other I-75 drivers do, too.
  • Juliette, Georgia, Exit 60, Whistle Stop Cafe.
    This was featured in the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes."
  • Tifton, Georgia, Exit 62, Pit Stop BBQ.
    Family owned and a must-stop for anyone craving a meal with their secret sauce.
  • Brunswick, Georgia, Exit 6, The Georgia Pig.
    One quarter mile east of I-95. You can eat inside or outside or take some to go. The Georgia Pig is a favorite of Jane and Michael Stern who write Roadside America and appear regularly on NPR to discuss local food.
  • Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, Exit 176, Aunt Sarah's Pancake House.
    This is a chain but don't let that stop you from trying it out.
  • Toledo, Ohio, the hometown of Jamie Farr, "Maxwell Klinger" from the television show "M.A.S.H", who talked about having lunch at Tony Packo's, a real Toledo restaurant.

Dave Hunter's I-75 Favorite Stops

  • Monroe, Ohio, Exit 29.
    The popular 62-foot-high Touchdown Jesus statue facing I-75 was destroyed by a lightning strike in a June thunderstorm. The statue was part of the Solid Rock Church. No word on whether it will be rebuilt, but it was a favored site by I-75 travelers.
  • Kentucky Artisan Center, Berea (east side of I-75 Exit 77).
    This magnificent building in the style Chateau is a free showcase of Kentucky art and artisan craftsmanship. It's also an excellent stop for I-75 travelers because it has a comprehensive information center, a cafeteria serving local Kentucky foods as well as typical American fare, and the cleanest restrooms on the interstate. Lots of parking, including space for vehicles with boat trailers. www.kentuckyartisancenter. ky.gov
  • Oak Ridge Secret City, near Knoxville, Tennessee, Exit 122 South.
    This small town was so secret during WWII even local folk didn't know it existed. Enclosed with barbed wire and security patrols, many of the residents weren't allowed to leave for the duration of the war. This is where uranium was extracted from ore and used for the production of the atomic bomb. Some of the original secret sites are now open as museums. Don't miss the American Museum of Science and Energy where most of this secret story is told with fascinating exhibits and once-classified photographs.
  • War sites from both the Civil War and the War of 1812 abound in the I-75 corridor.
    The Battle of Resaca, May 1864 (I-75 between Georgia Mile Markers 320 and 323); the Battle of Allatoona Pass, October 1864 (just east of I-75 at Exit 283); and the Great Locomotive Chase, April 1862, which took place between Kennesaw (Exit 271) and Ringgold, Georgia (Exit 348).
  • Cordele, Georgia, Exit 101, Titan 1 Confederate Air Force. It's a real intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) retired in 1965 that was obtained by Cordele to "make our community stand out," a city official tells the Cordele Dispatch. If missiles don't move you, Cordele is also the Watermelon Capital of the World and holds a week-long celebration every June.
  • Ashburn, Georgia, Exit 82.
    The largest Peanut Memorial can be seen from I-75. It's 20 feet tall and observes the fact that 50 percent of the country's peanuts come from Georgia. Ashburn is also home to the Crime and Punishment Museum, which has The Last Meal Cafe where you can have the same elaborate final meal many of the prisoners on death row consume. If that's not enough, there's also an annual Fire Ant Festival every March www.fireantfestival.com
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