Those of us who are old enough to recall Sunday drives of the Fifties or Sixties probably have fond recollections of those easygoing family outings. Younger folks may have heard about those short summer excursions from parents or grandparents. This was motoring in a gentler mode, before urbanization took firm hold of the country.
There’s nothing gentle about modern commuting. Everyday driving in urban areas means being on guard at every moment. Impatient, even crazed, drivers vie boldly for position, threatening the safety and sanity of all in their paths. Long-distance vacations can be taxing, too, trying to pile on hundreds of miles each day.
So, whatever happened to that pastoral, unhurried Sunday drive? In decades past, those day-long treks were occasions for the family to experience new sights, sounds, smells, without traveling too far from home.
An hour or two’s drive outside most cities brought you into a different world. Meandering two-lane roads eased through unfamiliar towns, passed colorful farms, crossed scenic bridges, perhaps even skirted pristine forests. Or, in the southwest, magnificently barren desert and stark mountain terrain. Heading north from Chicago, for example, families could easily head up to Wisconsin; or, for a longer journey, all the way to the lush forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. more