Monday, July 8, 2013

Tale of Two Cities – Taking Construction Detours on a Road Trip

In Michigan the snow obstructs the roads in the winter.   In the summer, it is construction.  The longer I live in the state, the better I am at locating those alternate routes that run free of traffic within sight of that parking lot occasionally known as an interstate highway.   On a recent trip to Indiana we ran  a foul of two traffic backups that put in contact with two extremes of small towns.

The first detour selected took us on back roads running through farms and abandoned gas stations.  We stopped briefly in a crossroads of town called Pompei.   The place was so deserted on a Sunday afternoon you would have sworn an invisible volcano had erupted and the inhabitants had dropped everything and fled.  We parked across from a general store with a front window so dusty they didn’t need curtains to keep out the light.  Crooked letters made of tape on the window advertised “Taco Tuesday” specials.   We wondered who was around to take advantage of this special, or how old the special was.  The gas station, closed, still posted a last gas price of $1.50 a gallon.   This place made Dorothy’s Kansas look like Wonderland, to mix mythologies.

The second detour took us through rolling countryside of farms once again. This time we ended up in downtown Angola.  The picture perfect town square with the pillar topped with a war monument could have been a movie set for small town America.  We passed a shop called “Touch of Lace’ that had all red, white, and blue outfits in the window to celebrate July.   In the corner of square was a cute little cinema with the old-fashioned marquee advertising a current movie.  On another corner was the county courthouse.  Two doors down was the First National Bank (of course), a two story building only a little wider than a townhouse.  The square was edged with multi-colored flower beds with petunias and marigolds, and a few other plants my botany-challenged brain couldn’t identify.

One town reeked of depression, with a brave cry of “Taco Tuesdays” to rally the remaining inhabitants.  The other lifted our spirits with its silent simplicity, small town America charming and real.    Sometimes detours can provide better entertainment than the DVDs and music on the car radio.

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