One of the things that keep a person engaged is finding new locales to explore.
A person doesn’t have to take a plane, train, bus, or even a car. All that’s required is physical mobility. Some use feet, others use personal wheels. Sometimes when the weather is bad, a leisurely finger walk through the yellow pages can give a person an entirely new look at their hometown.
When Sister Jo and I go into a new town where we’re going to spend a few days, I look at the yellow pages as soon as I can. From those pale tissue leaves I discover the range of amenities available to locals and visitors alike. The demographics of the community are contained with that phone book section.
If you don’t believe me, go to the restaurant section of the pages. See what’s available for your dining pleasure. How many Mexican restaurants are there? Chinese, Thai, or Japanese? What about Mid-Eastern fare? Any Russian, French, or American Steak Houses? These numbers often reflect the population of an area.
What about churches? What denominations are there and how many of each can one choose from?
Is there a dealership where you can take your car if something goes wrong or you need an oil change? What if you need a new tire? Can you find a reputable local tire dealer that won’t cost you the contents of your bank account?
Sheer volume of entries in the yellow pages, their sizes, and the boldness of print tell the explorer much about where they are and what they can expect while in the area. This kind of information is overlooked many times in favor of asking available locals specific need-to-know questions. That’s fine, too, but laborious in nature. The phone book holding the yellow pages also gives you a map of the town so that you can find your way around without having to use the trial and error method.
Much entertainment can be reaped by locals from tourists asking those “Can you tell me…?” questions. Ask any farmer outside any small town how much fun it is to give directions to newbies.
Of course, if you ask the right questions and pay attention in the right locales, you can find your way around easily. Oklahoma is one of those places. The state’s smaller road system is set up on a one-mile grid and named accordingly. That holds true everywhere with one exception. Those areas in former logging areas along the eastern edge of the state and where rivers and lakes don’t allow for straight roads.
Local signage also clues the traveler as to the demographics of an area. There are clues everywhere. It’s up to the visitor to look for the gems.
Here’s an example from yesterday. We took in a local fresh-air farmer’s market in Templeton, CA. There was almost a carnival air to the occasion. Kids ran and played while parents selected the best of the locally grown produce.
We saw artichokes twice the size of softballs. I’ve never seen anything like them. Beside them were egg-sized purple artichokes. I’d never seen their like before either. Vine-ripened tomatoes that filled the hand snugged up against green onions that could feed three. It was marvelous.
The local historical society building was open for visiting where we found fodder for many future investigations. Watching the shoppers told another story. Old or young, they enjoyed the sunshine and produce presentations. Conversation was lively and relaxed.
The morning activity allowed us to see the people of that small Victorian town as individuals and as a community. What more could a visitor want from one farmer’s market? Of course, the marvelous fresh strawberries the size of hen’s eggs would have kept our attention with no difficulty.
Here’s another question for you. Have you tried to find tourist post cards lately? During this trip we’ve learned that finding post cards for the folks back home is an adventure in itself. Some Visitor Centers have them, but certainly not all. Some Travel Plazas have them, but not all.
It seems to depend on where a person is as to whether such travel reminders and neener-neeners are available for purchase. We’ve contemplated using some of our own photos later to make personal post cards for sending to friends. No final decision has been reached on that.
A local calendar of events presented us with our next adventure—a wine-tasting tour of the local wineries. There are so many to choose from with a terrific selection of types and vintages. That excursion will take up a day and a designated driver. We’re so looking forward to it.
You can see the types of decisions we have to make right now in Central California. Should we do wine on Monday or do a photo shoot of the thoroughbred farms? Another trip to the beach or photo ops at the area missions? How many more days can we schedule for?
Today is for planning and regrouping. I hope everyone can take advantage of their local areas and discover something new to explore.
Have a marvelous week ahead and enjoy the trip. A bientot,