Trucker Tourist (Part 3)
With summer coming up, I thought I would give you more ideas for really great places to visit if you have the time, and happen to be in some of these states making deliveries or picking up loads. Some places can’t be accessed in a big rig, but a cheap rental car will get you anywhere!
#6 New Orleans, Louisiana – Now, everyone knows you can always go to New Orleans Mardi Gras, but I like a little less party, and a whole lot more adventure when I have the chance to visit. New Orleans is full of wonderful things to do—bayou airboat rides, gator sanctuaries, voodoo and ghost tours. Since it’s May and almost Mother’s Day, maybe some of you team drivers should think about taking a Steamboat Natchez Dinner Cruise. You can enjoy a quiet dinner with some of Louisiana’s famous seafood, listen to Jazz music, and star watch in each other’s arms, while floating down the Mississippi River. There are a few places in New Orleans where you can park your truck, like the Palace Truck Stop & Casino, or The Big Easy Travel Plaza, then you can either grab a cab or rent a car.
#7 Missouri – I’ve been to Missouri many times, and there are so many great places and things to do in this state. I want to remind you that Joplin is a trucker hub and hosts several truck shows during the year. Two shows that I am very familiar with are the Joplin 44 Truck Stop Truckers Jamboree and the GBATS at 4 State Trucks. Both are great shows to attend. There is parking for big rigs, a KOA camp site in the area, and hotels not too far away. There is also a special place just 22 miles from Joplin that I love to visit in Carthage—The Precious Moments Chapel. I know, it’s a “girl” thing, but I just love those little sweet-eyed characters. However, if you’re just not into that, you can run south from the I-40 toward Kansas City. You can take your kids to the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, or Legoland. There are also winery, brewery and distillery tours. Kansas City was listed on Forbes Top 10 cities for trucking jobs and pay, so it’s definitely a trucker-friendly place!
#8 North Dakota – Don’t ever forget, the middle fly-over states are full of history and adventure! After spending some time personally trucking in the state of North Dakota, I can tell you this is one pretty state. If you’re taking your down time, or waiting for a load, grab a rental car in Bismarck, travel for a couple of days, and see some amazing American history. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is awesome. I think you can take a truck through this park, but it’s pretty expensive. I stayed in a rest area on the west end of I-94, where I took a walk and enjoyed the stunning sunset. If you do check out the park, be sure and see the Maltese Cross Cabin Roosevelt once lived in, the Painted Canyon, and the Little Missouri River that runs through the park. You might also like the Lewis and Clark Expedition historical site in Fort Mandan. It’s located between Underwood and Washburn on Highway 83. Lewis and Clark spent the winter at Fort Mandan during their exploration of the Central, Northern, and Western unexplored territories of the United States. That fort is located at the southern tip of Lake Sakakawea State Park. The Big Missouri River empties into this lake and then continues on south towards Bismarck. Another place you might consider checking out is Cooperstown, north of Big Road 94 off Highway 1. This place is famous for the Ronald Regan Minuteman Missile Sites (OSCAR ZERO, north of Cooperstown on Highway 45, and NOVEMBER-33), located two miles east of Cooperstown on Hwy 200. These sites were for keeping the Russians at bay during the Cold War.
#9 Vermont – Wow, what a marvelous state to visit. I enjoy scenery, and when I’m trucking I get to see a lot of it. Many times, I just pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my truck, and took a few snapshots of some of the special sights. That’s the way it was for me in Vermont. The one time I was there, I was totally awe-stricken. If you’re trucking in this state, park your truck, rent a car, and take a few days to explore. You won’t regret it. Visit Mount Mansfield if you’re into hiking and steep climbs (you can’t take your truck up there, however). There is also Burlington (a hopping little hub on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain) with Cobblestone roads, shops, street performers, restaurants, and night concerts. Take a night dinner boat ride on Lake Champlain, or enjoy a few rays on the beach during the warm summer sun. Another wonderful place is the quiet little town of Stowe. You can get anywhere in the town on a bike. Find one of the secret swimming holes, or enjoy some great places to eat and shop. Rent a room at the mountain resort and spa there during the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival and enjoy live music while you watch those beautiful balloons climb into the sky. Don’t forget about Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury! They have daily tours of the factory, and, hey, who doesn’t like a good scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day?
#10 Georgia – It’s May, so perhaps if you’re in the Georgia area this month, you could check out the Jaemor Farms Strawberry Festival, near Alto (go north out of Atlanta on Hwy 23). If strawberries aren’t your fruit, you have nothing to fear if you’re in peach country in June. Just go south out of Atlanta on Highway 75 about 70 miles, right off Highway 49 are two sweet peach communities, Byron and Fort Valley that host truly awesome peach festivals. Fruit isn’t all that Georgia has to offer! You can spend some quality quiet time in northern Georgia, at Amicalola Falls State Park off Highway 52, or Smithgall Woods State Park, near Helen just off Highway 19. Both of these places offer some needed tranquility away from the hum of your truck engine. Take a few days off, rent a cabin, and bask in the sweet sound of silence. Don’t forget that Georgia is also an Atlantic Coast state, so if you enjoy the water, or want to take a fishing tour, Tybee Island will offer you sun, fun, and jet skiing! They also have light house tours, if you’ve never seen a light house up close. St. Mary’s Charter Boat Tours will be happy to appease any of you truckers who love to fish. Tybee Island is located off Highway 80, east of Savannah, and St. Mary’s is located south of Savannah, off I-95.
Don’t let the humdrum of your job keep you from seeing these wonderful places. You’re a trucker on the roads of America…explore!