What are drive by towns? They’re the signs along the interstate, the places you pass on your way to somewhere else. Most of the time they don’t get a second glance, except as an exit where you can fill the tank or make a rest stop as you follow the paved ribbon to your destination.
The big cities get all the glory. There’s more to do and more to see, more to eat, more everything. They can be overwhelming, so I created The Local Tourist to break down Chicago, one of the biggest of the big cities, into bite-sized, manageable, small town-sized pieces. For over a decade I’ve shared the ins and outs of this booming metropolis, and have dipped my toes into sharing Milwaukee and San Diego, too. I love these cities and the enormous number of opportunities there are to have fun.
But… for as long as I can remember I’ve had a dream. I dreamt of traveling with my journal, and later (once they were invented – I’ve had the dream that long) my laptop, and my camera and sharing stories of the people and places I’ve met along the way. For me, the idea of pulling over at every historical marker and lookout point, of taking it all in, is like a hearty embrace of life. Moments of significance are everywhere, if you take the time to slow down, if you don’t just drive by.
This idea crystallized earlier this year when I was invited to visit a small town in Central Iowa. This town of about 8,000 is smaller than most Chicago neighborhoods. I accepted the invitation without hesitation and spent two days in a crash course on what living and working in a small town is like. My fellow travel writers and I met people who love their home and who love sharing it. We arrived strangers and left friends.
The morning before I left I wrote in my journal “There are lots of drive by towns in flyover country,” and that phrase has stuck with me. As a Midwestern gal, I’m familiar with the misconception that you can just fly from one coast to the other because there’s no reason to land in the middle. That idea couldn’t be further from the truth. There isn’t just one reason to land – there are about five gazillion. There’s no such thing as flyover country. And there’s no such thing as drive by towns.
This site will highlight those small towns and the spaces in between, in the Midwest and everywhere. I want to share the stories that aren’t often told. This is not a departure from The Local Tourist, but an extension. My goal, just like with my original concept, is to help you experience the fascination of a tourist while feeling the comfort of the local, but this time it’s on a more intimate scale.
Every town has a story. Don’t just drive by; pull over and stay awhile.