Garry and I are old enough to remember the good old days and I’m the perfect age to have been one of the kids in the back seat pinching and punching a sibling while whining: “Are we there yet?” How come our parents didn’t kill us before we grew up?


It’s a question that has taken on considerable depths of meaning with the passing decades

Those of you who wax poetic about the wonderfulness of slowly trundling down America’s scenic back roads should take a car trip across New England.

New England roads — the good roads, the paved roads, the roads with passing lanes — run north and south. For reasons no one can explain (lack of money? no interest? not enough tourists?), only one or two lane local roads travel east and west. If (for example) you are traveling the 231 miles from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont, you will experience some of the nation’s most beautiful scenery. Very slowly. On roads that have not changed and in many cases, also haven’t been repaved, since you were knee-high to a grasshopper.


No limited-access highway will sully your pure travel experience. You won’t be tempted to eat fast food from familiar chains. No driver will tailgate to make you speed up. The car ahead of you — what we refer to as our “pace car” — will likely be an aging pickup rattling down the mountain. One of the driver’s feet will be glued to the brake pedal while he or she engages in a lively conversation as the truck weaves left and right from shoulder to shoulder. You’ll be hard put to figure whether or not the vehicle has a steering problem, or the driver is doing it on purpose to make you crazy. Whatever the reason, you are not going to pass that pickup.

Although you won’t find fast food chains, you won’t starve. There’s plenty of good food and gasoline you can pump as you pass through the quaint New England towns. Classic towns with white clapboard churches and at least one or two pizza parlors. Baked goods for sale. Chilled pop in bottles and cans. Clean bathrooms.


It’s a breathtaking journey through the mountains. Magnificent and surreal. Directly in front of you for the entire trip will be a poky driver who will never exceed (or even meet) the speed limit.He or she would never consider letting his vehicle get within 10 miles of whatever that silly sign says is a safe, legal speed for traveling those twisting roads.


There will also be plenty of construction. Everywhere and oddly, if you go back the following year, the construction will still be in progress. After four or five of the dozen hours of that drive, the urge to get your car up to ramming speed and push the slow drivers out of the way becomes an obsession.

Slow drivers lurk on side roads. Do they use spotter craft so they know when we are coming? We try to pass, but they appear out of nowhere. They pull out and immediately slow to a crawl. If, by some miracle we briefly break free, another slow driver is poised for action at the next intersection.


When Dwight D. Eisenhower decreed and built the interstate highway system. I bet I know why. He was from farm country himself and had been recently traveling America’s glorious back roads. He knew he could never defeat the slow drivers … so he just built bigger, faster roads.

Just … not in New England.

Categories: highways, Humor, Photography, Roads, Travel

Tags: , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. Lol slow drivers are a problem everywhere in the world! But lane hoggers on multi-lane roads are my pet peeve.


  2. I like slow roads, no haste, no stress, and you are not pushed to keep up the speed limit, if there is one. I do not really drive now, but would if I had to. Despite the narrow Swiss mountain roads, and other country roads, everyone seems to be in a hurry. You are taught to keep up the speed that you are not hindering the others. I never did like motorways. Have now had experience of the english roads for a week and they are not much better. It confuses me how they are changing lanes all the time to get ahead. Suddenly there is a block, one way traffic because of road works. I think it is international. The most ruthless driving I met was in Marrakesh. Every man for himself, and if you happen to knock someone over on the way, it is their fault.


    • Slow roadz are wonderful, especially for photography and most particularly when you don’t need to get somewhere on time. Also, having someone in front of you with a foot always on the brake, slowing, speeding up, then slowing down again — really IS crazy making. I’m not a terribly fast driver. I like to go a reasonable — even — speed suitable for the road without the drivier in front of me caroming back and forth (having a good conversation on the phone, I expect) … with occasional random stops for no apparent reason. It’s not just that they are slow drivers. They are also very BAD drivers.


  3. Sundays around here are the worst! The term Sunday driver was invented here I think. Drives me crazy!! Love your road photos- made up for the thought of those slow drivers


  4. Yes I remember those road trips. (and so do the children) We went to Niagara on the Lake yesterday and a trip that should have taken an hour took us 2.5 hours. It was very frustrating, but beautiful scenery.


  5. I have a really horrible car – too small so that I get blown around with the wind, and then the transmission is so bad that I get overtaken by tractors going up a hill. Yesterday I annoyed a tailgater behind me. I could see that cars were lining up behind me, and I saw something that I wanted to take a photo of so slowed down suddenly and pulled over. The tailgater literally had to stop. They were that close to me. Serves them right. I bet I got a few choice words said in my direction. Don’t blame the driver. Blame the car.


  6. It’s the same down South too. Back roads in disrepair and yet being repaired all the time. Slow drivers everywhere, but the views are pretty breathtaking.


    • I think the roads might get repaired if the guys supposedly doing the repairing ever actually did some work. I’ve never seen a crew member doing anything but eating, chatting, leaning on a shovel and chatting, or sitting on a curb watching the traffic pile up.


  7. “Like” is not an appropriate response to the subject matter. Slow Drivers are a conspiracy!! A nefarious, vindictive, personal conspiracy to drive me mad and into fits of senseless violence!! A man can take just so much.
    You can tell ’em I’m comin’…and hell’s comin’ with me!! Hell’s comin’ with me!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing your memories! 🙂


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Tish Farrell

Writer on the Edge



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