With pride I say that I once knew the state.
By having a parent who traveled a lot, I could go anywhere in the state without a map.
My dad pointed out the same landmarks each time we passed them. The geographical center of the state, the ramshackle home of the Goat Man, the home of one of his favorite students
Since interstates follow U.S. highways, there is always a slower way to get anywhere you can get to fast. I-75 follows U.S. 41; I-20 parallels U.S. 78; I-16 follows U.S. 80, I-70 traces U.S. 40; I-95 is an upgrade from U.S. 17 and so it goes.
I hate interstate highways. The speed, aggressive and impatient drivers, billboards blocking views, and broken pavement makes driving the interstate highway not worth the time saved.
One mile out of five on the interstate was not designed as an emergency landing field. Just ain’t so.
Interstates ending with a “0” are transcontinental, or “trans-cons.” That’s true.
Last month I took back roads to my hometown. It was worth the extra hour of slower driving.
I drifted down U.S. 23 reciting places as if he were with me. The hotel owned by chief William McIntosh at Indian Springs, the home of Dudley Hughes, and on it went.
Roads in the south eventually go somewhere, but they wind, curve, dip and climb. If there is a double line running down the middle, then the road is going somewhere. Otherwise, you are on someone’s long driveway.
Southern roads followed trails and were dependent upon river crossings.
I often travel Ga. 166, a twisting highway originally known as Five Notch Trail. It followed the Chattahoochee River from one Indian town to another. It runs sort-of-southwest.
It is handy to know where you are.
Some towns are south of you, some are north of you. We’ve covered this before, but nobody in the south knows which way is north. Down here it isn’t important.
Across the Mississippi things are laid out square with the world and land divided into sections, a square mile (640 acres).
Roads and everything else (but railroad tracks) run north/south and east/west. If you need directions, you might be told to go four miles west and then a mile south.
You would pass three roads, turn on the fourth and your destination would be at the next cross road: simple.
In the south, those directions would be meaningless.
The first federal highways were named not numbered and indicated with colored bands on utility poles.
The Lincoln Highway went from Times Square to San Francisco.
The Dixie Highway connected Chicago to Miami.
The Victory Highway honored boys killed in World War I and connected New York City to San Francisco via St. Louis.
Bankhead Highway, named for Alabama Congressman and Speaker of the House William B. Bankhead, went from Washington, D.C. to San Diego. He was the father of actress Tallulah Bankhead.
Maps are no longer free, but they are abundant, and I have something on the dash — a GPS receiver.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, a former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.