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.
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.
- 1,786 miles
- States: 6
- Northernmost Point: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
- Southernmost Point: Hialeah, Florida
- Total Exits: 589
- 1,927 miles
- States: 16 (including Washington, D.C.)
- Northernmost Point: Houlton, Maine
- Southernmost Point: Miami, Florida
- Total Exits: 605
- 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
Stan and Sandra Phillips Posner's I-95 Food Favorites
- New Haven, Connecticut, Exit 47, Louis' Lunch.
The birthplace of the hamburger. www.louislunch.com
- Baltimore, Maryland, Exit 50, Polock Johnny's.
Home of the Polish sausage www.polockjohnnys.com
- Fredericksburg, Virginia, Exit 133, Carl's Ice Cream on Princess Anne Street.
Open from Valentine's Day through November.
- Weldon, North Carolina, Exit 173 (just south of the Virginia/North Carolina border).
Ralph's BBQ. Brunswick Stew is a favorite. Has a buffet. Cash only.
- Richmond, Virginia, Exit 78, Buzz and Ned's Real Barbeque. buzzandneds.com
- Summerton, South Carolina, Exit 108, Summerton Diner.
Lots of fried food including squash fritters.
- Santee, South Carolina, Exit 98, Lone Star Barbeque and Mercantile.
This place has 100-year-old wooden floors, a regular buffet and a general store.
- Pooler, Georgia, Exit 104, Sonic Drive-In.
Carhops, good food, and fun. This is a franchise but gets great reviews from those stopping in. www.sonicdrivein.com
I-95 Favorite Posner Stops
- Albacore Park, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Exit 8. "It's a submarine in a ditch," he says and adds, "The USS Albacore was a prototype for nuclear powered submarines and was used for testing between 1953 and 1972. In 1966, the submarine set an underwater record speed of 44 mph.
- Cranbury, New Jersey, Exit 8A, Dick Clark American Bandstand at Molly Pitcher Service Area.
- Quantico, Virginia, Exit 150A, National Museum of the Marine Corps, next to the Quantico Marine Corps Base. www.usmcmuseum.org
- Smithfield, North Carolina, Exit 97, US 70 Westbound, Ava Gardner Museum. Costumes and scripts from her films are on display. www.avagardner.org
- Florence, South Carolina, Exit 164, Young's Pecans. The largest pecan sheller in the country. www.youngplantations.com
- Walterboro, South Carolina, Exit 68, Colleton State Park. A New Deal program spanning 35 acres on the Edisto River. There's a canoe and kayak trail (they supply the boats).
- Dillon, North Carolina, Exit 1, South of the Border. Yes, it's the definition of tacky, but the 150 billboards of Pedro scattered north and south along I-95 will tell you, eventually, that this is a place where one can get a meal, fuel, go shopping, get a hotel, and get off the road for awhile. South of the Border has more than seven million visitors every year.
- Hardeeville, South Carolina, Exit 8, Golf Ball Outlet, where all the golf balls that have landed in the water or have been found on golf courses go. www.gogogolfballs.com
- Dania, Florida, Exit 23, International Game Fish Association Hall of Fame.www.igfa.org
Interstate Tips From Those Who've Been There
- "Pack your car so that its contents are reasonably balanced across its width, that is, with equal weight on the left and right side. An unbalanced car can cause unpredictable results during any emergency stop." — Dave Hunter Along I-75
- "I indulge in what I call 'The Hundred Mile Nap.' Twenty-minute naps, after each 100 miles, can be enjoyed at the slightest notion. We have a window unit and small generator for both the van and boat so horizontal comfort is guaranteed even on the hottest days." — Jeff Nicholas BoatUS Trailering Club Member
- "You can always get fast food at the first stop along any exit, but take the time, drive a few miles past the exit, and you'll find cheaper prices and local hangouts. It's also a way to support the locals instead of the huge chain stores. At breakfast you can see how waitresses know the regulars and each has their own seat and everyone knows everyone else. Those are the places where you'll get a good meal and a good sense of the local character of a town." — Sandra Phillips Posner Drive I-95
- "I never drive over 55 mph. Among other things, this means I seldom touch the brakes. I have 95,000 miles on my van and still running the original brake pads. I consider 15 mpg very good for towing at 55 mph and it happens regularly, even with my V10. When I've checked the mileage at 70 mph; it's 12 mpg." — Jeff Nicholas
- "Many welcome centers now have free wi-fi available for Internet connection." — Dave Hunter Along I-75
- "Books on tape are great, especially John Grisham novels. We were stuck in traffic but the book on tape had our focus. When traffic started moving again, there was discussion about turning around to find another rush-hour traffic jam so that we could finish the book!" — Stan Posner Drive I-95
- "Try and shift breakfast and lunch out of their normal timeslots. We have coffee and a Fiber One bar in the morning before we leave, then drive 100 miles before stopping for an out-of-rush-hour brunch/ breakfast. We use a similar strategy with a mid-afternoon meal. This means more driving-time and less waiting for restaurant service." — Dave Hunter Along I-75
- "Get off the exit for gas and drive a few miles into town and the price will be cheaper." — Stan Posner Drive I-95
- "In an emergency, never look at what you're trying to avoid. Always look in the direction of your escape route. Your car will go in that direction!" — Dave Hunter Along I-75
This article was published in the November 2010 issue of Trailering Magazine.
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