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Driver Lifestyles

Seeing America

By Trish Dalton
Posted May 17th 2002 6:00AM

So you get a load to Los Angeles. OK, so it's Rancho Cucamonga, but it's still California. Two days later as you sit in the parking lot of the TA in Ontario, waiting to get a load east or anywhere, you have some down time, and you get out your map.

Hmm. LA is actually about sixty miles from here, not as close as you thought. Oh well maybe next trip. Your next load is to Knoxville,TN. You don't actually see Knoxville though, on the I-640 around town. You miss Nashville on I-440 and I-495 skirts around Boston. And don't even think about getting any closer to Washington DC than I-495.

I-287 around New York City is probably close enough, but the postcards at the truck stop are about the only way you'll see some of this country's famous landmarks.

But with a little planning, you can see some of America's real treasures. When you are stranded in Ontario CA, it is only a few miles to remnants of old Route 66. A long stretch of "The Mother Road" still exists as Foothill Blvd., in San Bernardino complete with an old teepee motel. And much more of it is still accessible from I-40, in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

And speaking of Texas, did you know just west of Amarillo, lies one of America's greatest works of art? In 1974 Stanley Marsh III, a Texas rancher, farmer, and art collector, commissioned the Ant Farm, a group of experimental architects to build a piece of art that represented the American dream.

The result is 10 Cadillacs, buried nose down in the dry Texas earth, sort of interactive art. You can park at the Love's Truck Stop on Arnot Rd. to see it.

If you drop your trailer, you can visit the National Military Cemetery at Vicksburg, MS. It is also home to the restored Civil War gunboat, the USS Cairo, which was recovered from the nearby Yazoo River.

While in Vicksburg, you can also see its historic museums and walk to Biedenharn's candy store, the first place anywhere, to bottle Coca Cola.

Did you know you could go to Mardi Gras, in New Orleans for about six bucks? You can park at the Mardi Gras truck stop, tip the security guard, and take the bus for one dollar down to the French Quarter, and after the party another dollar to get back

If you are a fan of American history, you can see where General Custer met his demise, the Little Bighorn Battleground is off of I-90 near Crow Agency Montana.

It is possible to actually walk on the Civil War battleground at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In nearby Carlisle, the same church that George Washington used as a meeting place before the Revolutionary War still stands. Across the road in a very old and historic cemetery, is a monument to Molly Pitcher.

According to legend, she served beside her husband bringing water to parched soldiers, during the Battle of Monmouth, in 1778. No matter what your interests are, America probably has it and with a little research, you can find it.

Spend a little time on the Internet, check visitors centers, often located at rest areas, or call AAA to get maps and tour books about the places you frequently run.

Be sure to check locally to find hour of operation, and any size or weight restrictions. Also, be sure to check your company's policies about dropping trailers and bob-tailing.

It might take a little planning ahead, but it's much more rewarding than sitting in the TV room at the truck stop, listening to the same old stories.

Then you can really say that you've seen America.

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