Just read an article in the NY Times from the Frugal Traveler who spent 5 weeks wandering through the midsection of the US and commenting on what he saw. It is worth reading--
Traveling the Heartland
I enjoyed this article -- agree with most of it. The author especially enjoyed going to local fairs. We exhibit at the county fair too and volunteer to make it fun for the kids, just as much as it was 150 years ago when it started in our neighborhood. Rural fairs, big or small are quite wonderful!
We drive to Seattle most every year starting in NW Wisconsin and taking a different back road each year spending a week or more traveling each way. This year it appears to be off the list, but who knows, we might still make it.
Crossing the great plains off of the interstate highways is a heck of a good deal. You pull into a small town and look for a cafe where most of the pickups are parked, go in and pick a table and when there is a lull in the conversation where the big group of farmers are gathered for late breakfast, you ask about the corn (wheat, beans, sunflowers or in Canada the canola or flax) and compare notes with what you have seen along the way. You get peanut butter and jelly along with your black or white toast.
The hardest part is finding a place to stay for the night--not many motels, so we pull a popup camper or bring the tent and cots and park off the road if we can't find a campground. Back when I was a kid, the folks camped at rural schools--playground swings, pump and outhouses all free.
Although many of the folks are quite conservative, as the NY Times author found, they are not so conservative as their representatives seem to be. Most are pretty much middle of the road; watch out for your neighbor types, and friendly if they think you understand rural life (being 100 miles from medical care; having your kids ride 2 hours on a school bus; and being dependent on just the right weather to make the crop).
Reading the article as we are underway on our own mini-trip in the midlands headed to Elkhorn Iowa to the Danish Immigrant Museum out there in the corn and bean fields to return the Danish Pioneer Newspaper exhibit loaned to the Luck Museum for the past 2 months, makes me think about rural travel. On the way down we are hitting the freeway to get there quickly, but on the way back we will wander through the back roads.
Britt IA, home of the hobo festival, is on the itinerary to look up a 93 year old cousin Mom has not heard from in 2 years. Maybe a stop in the hobo capital of the US will get us back on the road again after 2 years off for health problems. Think this year we will head to North Carolina to see a niece and then on south to rassle alligators. The Hobo Convention was earlier in August, so maybe one of the hobos will be needing a ride north!
Hobo Festival Link