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THE VIEW FROM PAEONIAN SPRINGS
Off the Beaten Path...
Road Trip destinations for people who like to drive.

by Michael H. Thomson
June 22, 2005

I'm one of those people who do not spend hours on the web looking for a cheap plane ticket – not unless I have to, of course. I would rather be driving – sometimes without a destination. I don't do as much driving as I used to, but I would wager I drive more than most.  Over the years, I've seen many different places quite by chance. One of those places is Pass Christian, Mississippi. Pass Christian is a laid-back place on the Mississippi Gulf Coast between Biloxi and New Orleans. There is not much there and that's the beauty of it. You can get a reasonably inexpensive motel near the beach and enjoy the summer scenery. It's a great place to enjoy local seafood, read, write, paint, or simply walk a beautiful beach. If you become bored, you are only a short jog from Biloxi with its gambling and nightlife. Going west in, the other direction there is New Orleans, which – what can I say – is New Orleans.
 
I lived in Texas for five years. Except for the very large easily recognizable cities, there are a great number of off the beaten path destinations in Texas. One of these is Nacogdoches, Texas located in east central Texas. Nacogdoches is a very important in Texas and national history. Nacogdoches is where the Texas Revolution was plotted and planned by Sam Houston and other conspirators. This city nestled in the heart of a great pine forest is possibly one of the friendliest cities in the U.S.  It is the home of Stephen F. Austin State University, which boosts over fifteen thousand students and brings the population of Nacogdoches to past forty-two thousand. The cost of living in Nacogdoches is very reasonable and there are plenty of other amenities. One of the things that most impressed me about Nacogdoches is the amount of participation by citizens in local government.  It has an attitude that I imagine you would find in the city-states of early Greece.
 
For anglers and the boating crowd you are very close to several lakes the biggest being the Sam Rayburn reservoir that is co-located in Texas and Louisiana. Yes, Nacogdoches is in the heart of Cajun country and all the delicious food choices found in that region.
 
You have probably guessed that most of my destinations are in the South. Well I'm from the South so it is reasonable that I would be inclined in that direction.  My apologies to anyone I may have offended by not including their region of the country.
 
If you're looking for a small town just to kick around in or even possibly retire to – my personal choice is Fairhope, Alabama. Fairhope has some credentials other than Mike Thomson just having passed through there. Fairhope at one time was listed by Money Magazine as being one of top twenty small towns in the United States. It has a beach on Mobile Bay, which separates it by about 11 miles from Mobile, Alabama. The tourist area with its art galleries, antique shops, and great collection of restaurants is as nice as you will find anywhere. Tourist attractions such as the battleship Alabama and an impressive military museum are nearby. One of the nicest trips I enjoyed in Fairhope was attending its Mardi Gras. New Orleans is not the only city on the Gulf of Mexico that celebrates Mardi Gras. Cities from Pensacola to the Texas Gulf Coast celebrate Mardi Gras.  Fairhope's Mardi Gras has two qualities I enjoy – It is safe and FUN! What is doubly enjoyable is watching how Fairhope's numerous winter residents from Wisconsin and Minnesota enjoy themselves.  If your journey brings you within 50 miles of Fairhope, you would definitely be cheating yourself if you don't take time to visit.
 
Those three should keep you occupied for a while. I have several others to talk about in a later column. Off the beaten path locations like Townsend, Tennessee, the alpine village of Helen, Georgia, and the fisherman's paradise of Steinhatchee, Florida.
 
Continue to enjoy your summer!


About the Author:
Mike thinks small town America is more fun than big city America, but then, everyone has their own tastes.


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