A festival or event is a great reason to road trip, and I still do it, albeit less often these days. So, what gets us on the road? For some, it’s a visit to see family, but for many of us, we need a raison d’être or, in this case, a raison de faire un road trip!
Ryan and I have been exploring themed travel (beyond festivals) for the last few years. It started with our Dust Bowl Road Trip in 2022. I was overjoyed at the amount of interaction those posts inspired. Many people left comments or even emailed me about it.
That travel was inspired by literature about the Dust Bowl, both fiction and nonfiction. I think, for us, most themed travel will be inspired by literature.
A writer I’ve known for many years now, wrote during that time to tell me that I should consider exploring Nebraska inspired by literature. In graduate school, Carrie Dow, originally from Nebraska, took a Literature of the Great Plains class.
She had to read Willa Cather, John Neihardt, and Mari Sandoz, all Nebraskan writers. She suggested a road trip based on those authors. There is a Cather Museum in Red Cloud, plus, she is a fan of the entire state.
“I think that area of south/central Nebraska is gorgeous,” she wrote. “I also think Nebraska’s Panhandle has some stunning natural scenery that many people don’t know about. What people see driving across I-80 does not reflect how beautiful my home state is.”
Another themed road trip idea also involves driving the Lincoln Highway through the entire state of Nebraska. Of course, many do the Pennsylvanian route, but that would be a bit of a drive for us.
We have been on the road several times in Nebraska, but the farthest we’ve traveled is from Kearny to Ogallala. We’ve also been on it in Wyoming when we stopped for lunch at the Historic Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow.
The Lincoln Highway is the original transcontinental road completed in 1916. Starting in New York City, New York, it ends in San Francisco, California. The route through Nebraska goes through midwest Americana-style towns. Obvious that some of these towns have seen better days, the road passes retro motels (many remain open) and the occasional vintage gas station, which are sadly no longer open.
It seems like everyone wants to drive Route 66, but the Lincoln Highway would make a unique road trip.
Television can inspire road trips. Many years ago, we explored Deadwood, South Dakota, due to our enjoyment of the HBO series, “Deadwood.” Unfortunately, the article I wrote about it in 2010, is gone. When HeidiTown.com was updated in 2016, all posts that were linked via pages (I used to do that because someone told me it was good for SEO) disappeared. Yes, I have moments of pure sadness about this.
A fun trip that unintentionally turned into a themed road trip was our visit to Albuquerque, which is around a seven-hour drive for us. We were going for the Fiery Foods & BBQ Show, but as it turns out, I ate a lot of tacos, even on the way there.
Once there, we drank a lot of beer. There are around forty breweries in the greater Albuquerque area, and every one of them has a taco truck out front. I was in heaven!
Food is a favorite when it comes to themed road trips. Our friends Mechelle and Caleb took a long road trip based on barbecue. Mechelle kindly wrote about their adventures for me in the BBQ Belt Road Trip: 4,000 Delicious Miles.
Road trips around food can take place in Pueblo too. We’ve visited in the early fall several times to visit the farms/farm stores and get freshly roasted green chiles.
The North Fork Valley is another place that excels when it comes to a fresh food-based road trip, it’s also an ideal spot to take a road trip around wineries. Don’t miss a personal favorite, Big B’s. They make amazing hard ciders and Ryan’s much-loved Pommeau.
Of course, Mesa County, where the cities of Grand Junction and Palisade are located, makes a sweet winery tour spot. Plus, you’ll find loads of fresh produce and veggies here.
As it was with the Dust Bowl Road Trip, our next one will likely be related to a new literary obsession for Ryan: cowboys. Specially, the cattle drives between the border of Mexico and ending in Montana. “Lonesome Dove,” the book-turned-television mini-series, outlines a cattle route that we could take. The book, by the way, is great.
As with the Dust Bowl Road Trip, this is a doable outing for us as the cattle drive routes are all around us in Northern Colorado, but mostly just east. It would involve driving down to Texas through many small towns and then up through Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.
We probably won’t make it to Montana on this cattle drive-inspired road trip because we won’t have the time. Right now, we’re considering April 2024. I’m excited because I might finally get to see Kerr County and Kerrville, Texas. This area has long been on my radar for obvious reasons. As a Kerr, I should be a celebrity in Kerr County!
A real benefit of doing a road trip, by the way, is the ability to bring the dog. Fritzi has been to nine states already. She is more well-traveled than some humans.
I’d love to hear about any themed road trips you’ve taken or themed road trips that you’d like to take. Leave a comment!