The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Roadtrippin’ The Right Way

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Thursday, October 13, 2011

There are certain experiences that forever bond you with your friends. It’s that first freshman dorm party where you met. It’s the laughs you share at 2a.m. as you’re both stressing over exams and papers. It’s the care packages from parents you always share. And it’s the road trips.

The bonding experiences on long road trips are endless. For one, there are hours of driving to fill with chatter about life, love and Lady Gaga’s new song on the radio that you just don’t get. There are cornfields to gawk at for hours. There are hilarious license plates to read. There are awesome places to stop for food and rest … and entertainment.

Inevitably, you will need to leave your car — possibly multiple times depending on the length of your trip. Whether you need a bathroom break or some real food, you’ve got a lot of choices. That is, unless you’re traveling east on I-80 through Pennsylvania — then you’ve got to get to Scranton before you reach civilization and food.

But there’s another reason to stop: for your sanity. Hours in a car can affect your mood and crack the strongest nut. Inane objects become hilarious, the road begins to blur and your mind just stops functioning. At this point, you should not only consider switching drivers, but also getting out of the car for at least 20 minutes to recharge.

And this is where RoadsideAmerica.com comes in. This website is a treasure trove of random, interesting and just plain wacky sites to visit on or near major American highways. It provides excellent suggestions for those random places to stop when you hit that wall, places for you to walk around, regroup and experience the offbeat culture of America.

In order to use the site to its potential, you need to have your route planned out beforehand. On the site, you search the states you are traveling through, and then receive lists of towns and the attractions found in them. Though this takes a little extra planning on your part, it’s worth it.

This site made my road trip across southern Missouri something I could actually tell people about. Who crosses Missouri? And who cares? No one, until I tell them about the eight-ball-shaped water tower we saw. Or the store of award-winning brats, sausages and cheeses. Or the town of over 100 bed and breakfasts and the most delicious German food I’ve ever had.

Are you headed south? Maybe you’ll find the Statue of the Bird Girl in Atlanta, Ga. Or the tool box-shaped building in La Porte, Texas. Like firehouses? Check out the only underground one in the world in Colorado Springs. No matter what sort of random things you enjoy, you’re sure to find stops that will entertain you.

The stories of the hilariously offbeat places you stopped could tighten bonds with the people you love. What better way to cement a friendship than to visit the Home of Sliced Bread in Chillicothe, Mo.? Or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kan.? 

Make your road trip exciting and forge new memories with your friends. Visit RoadsideAmerica.com and see a side of America you never new existed.