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July 5, 2024 24 mins

Holly and Tracy talk about the various roadside stops that people can find in various places. They also examine the arduous nature of long bicycle and hiking trips. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you missed in History Class, A production
of iHeartRadio, Hello and Happy Friday. I'm Holly Fry and
I'm Tracy V. Wilson, and I seem to be forgetting
how we do interest to shows lately he talked about

(00:21):
roads and highways. This week we did, and we promised
we would talk about comparing auto grills to things we
have in the US that we were more familiar with,
although we have been to auto grills, yeah and so well.
When I read your description in the outline, I had
this moment where I forgot we ever drove anywhere in Italy,

(00:43):
and forgot that we made stops on the drive in
Italy and must have been in a place that would
be like under the umbrella of an autogrill, which I
did not find to be enormously different from some of
the service plazas that we have in Massachusetts and other

(01:07):
parts of the Northeast. So, in my mind, a rest
area on an interstate highway in the US is one
of the places where you pull into a lane from
the highway and it takes you directly to the parking
for that like you're not getting off into secondary roads
and making other turns you're getting off the highway to

(01:29):
the rest area, and the rest area in most of
the places that I've lived in, like the Southeast, that
includes a bathroom and vending machines, and if you're at
a state line, maybe also a visitor center that has
maps and brochures and stuff. When I moved to Massachusetts,
the first time we went on a road trip and
we pulled off the highway into a service plaza which

(01:52):
had more like a bathroom, a convenience store, multiple quick
service restaurants, and gas pumps. I was like, what is
this miracle? And the places that I remember, specifically one
place that we stopped in Italy that felt like sort
of a slightly more upscale version of that to me. Yes,

(02:14):
although I will call you on a lack of memory, okay,
because it only just occurred to me that you and
I have stopped at such a service plaza in the
South uh huh on the way to Disney World, okay
in twenty twelve. Yeah, Oka humpka service plaza, which I
almost always hit on my head. And then there's like

(02:37):
also a thing I mentally have as a separate category,
which is the truck stop and the truck stop is
a lot like a service plaza, maybe also has showers
right to go with the bathrooms, but is like not
a thing that you pull into a lane on the
highway and that highway lane takes you directly to it.
Like the truck stop you get off the highway to

(02:58):
go to. Everyone I'm sure is very fascinated by my
mental hierarchy of places to stop on the highway. Well,
the thing that really separates for me about auto grills
is that one it is like a rest up and
that you just get off and you're right there, it's
right off of the highway. And two, unlike a service

(03:18):
plaza where it's kind of like a bunch of vendors
that are all working in one big space together, it's
they're usually one. It's one big thing. It's not so
like you can pick up your sandwich, get a candy bar,
buy a weird toy that you found down the aisle,

(03:41):
and you know, twenty seven sodas if you're me, and
then you check out with all of that at the
same place. Yeah, I only got snacks and a drink.
Snacks as in prepackaged things to be consumed out of
their packaging, not like a meal when we when I
remember stop and when we were in Italy, well, we

(04:01):
also had the wonderful thing of like that we have
had on all of our international trips that we've done
through the show spectacular groups of people. The Italian trip
was so fun because it felt very much like family.
And what was happening is when we stopped at auto grills,
people would buy things and then they would all get
passed around the bus. So everybody was trying everybody's everything. Yeah,

(04:26):
and it was very, very fun, to the point that
after the first one we were kind of plotting who
was gonna grab what so that we covered bases and
didn't have everybody with you know, the same licorice, marshmallows
or whatever. Yeah. I just remember us all being kind
of blown away by how nice they were. Yeah, because
they're way nicer. I will say I have never been

(04:48):
I feel like I should say this because someone is
singing right now. I have never been to a Bucky's. Okay,
you know what BUCkies. I know what BUCkies is. Yeah,
I know people that love love, love all caps, love
heart BUCkies. I find them slightly terrifying just in their largeness. Yeah,
and at one point. My beloved stopped there when he

(05:10):
was driving by himself to visit family, and I just
remember him texting me like, it's a lot, it's a
lot to take in. It's yeah, so I hear they
have the best cleanest bathrooms in the world and a
wall of jerky, and that sounds great, but I've never been.
I also will say that when I'm traveling in the

(05:30):
US myself, when we're traveling in Italy and it's like,
everybody stop and get out and have your bathroom brains together.
I'll take all the time in the world. But if
I'm driving people, particularly like to Disney World, I'm like
the worst stereo type of like a sitcom Dad there
ever was where I'm like, all right, you guys, pee
really fast. You have right back in this car. No,

(05:51):
we are not stopping for that, No we are not.
I'm It's one of the reasons I like to drive
through the night. If we can start at two in
the morning, everybody falls asleep and leaves me alone to drive.
I also like it because I will just be in
my head thinking my thoughts, and that's quite enjoyable to me.
And I'm not as much as like, oh this part

(06:12):
of the journey is the party. No, get back in
the car, let's go. Possibly why I don't really remember
the service Plastic that I stopped at on that trip,
Tracy Curry, we have time to buy one donut. Get out.
Here's what I remember about about that drive. I remember
that we left my house really really early in the morning.
It was two am. Yeah, And I remember we were

(06:35):
somewhere and you and I were the only ones awake.
I think Brian was asleep, and I was telling you
something that had happened on Rift Tracks. Yes, and I
started laughing so hard that I thought I might wet
my pants. If you are a Rift Tracks fan, it

(06:58):
was or can't spell, but it mouse, Yeah, And I
have no I have barely a memory at some point
that I think was on the way home where we
stopped somewhere, and the rest of the both drives, it's
just a fog. Well I do because I made you.
Because if I leave it too in the morning, we

(07:19):
can get to one of my favorite breakfast restaurants in
time for breakfast at a nine or nine thirty seating
go to Boma. Yeah, breakfast. It's the best to have
my waist. Although now I haven't done that in a minute,
and now we have been, especially if it's just me
and Brian, we're a little more loosey goosey about what
time we leave, and we have been flying down more,

(07:41):
especially if we were doing a short trip, just to
like maximize our time there and not arrive completely just
wasted in terms of energy from the drive. So it's
been a minute. I think the last time I did
that drive was It's been a couple of months at least. Yeah,
which is unusual for me, because normally, at least once
a month I would drive down. Now I'm there at

(08:03):
least once a month, but not not with the car.
Before moving to New England, I went on a number
of trips that were in driving distance from where I
was by myself, and like really enjoyed the drive. Like
I drove when I wasn't living in Asheville, I drove
to Ashville a lot. I would drive to the beach,

(08:23):
you know, I would drive up to kind of the
North Georgia mountains, and then moving to New England where
there are more trains, I'm increasingly like, can I get
there on a train? Because if I'm on the train,
I don't have to pay attention to the road or

(08:44):
other drivers, or like I can sit here and read
a book or listen to my podcast or whatever, and
it's probably gonna take me longer, which is irritating, but
you know, it's the trade off of not not having
to drive the car. I see. I like driving. Yeah,

(09:05):
I don't mind driving at all. And like I said,
it's like a little time where I am able to
watch the road and be in my head a little bit,
which feels very luxurious to me, because you know, I
can't be answering emails. I can't be answering texts. Oh
can now because technology is evolved, where like I can
talk texts into my car. But for the most part,

(09:28):
I just get to cruise and b Yeah, it's delightful. Yeah,
the meditation of travel. I do always marvel at highways
in other countries, just because I'd like to notice the
differences and similarities. Yeah. I drove all over Ireland when
I was there, which I had a surprisingly easy time

(09:51):
with because it's you know, opposite side of the road.
Not a problem when we were in England, though. We
were in London last year and I was really struggling
with the same thing. I don't know why. I'm like,
there's nothing different about these countries in terms of like,
you know, I wasn't like this road is so much
more obvious, And I just don't know why. I maybe

(10:12):
lost that skill. But in any case, roads roads been
on a lot of them. My family, when I was nine,
moved across the United States by car, stopping and camping
along the way. It is why I hate camping to

(10:32):
this day. Oh no, I just don't like it, you
know what I mean, Like I like the driving part,
but I don't like the roughing it part so much.
That's never been my jam. I'm like, I would like
to rough it at a nice hotel with a you know,
a lobby bar and a room service. That sounds great.
I don't want to put up tents, and I certainly
don't want to cook my food around a fire, right.

(10:54):
I know lots of people love that stuff so great.
Like I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. It
just just never been the thing for me, probably because
I have associations of like the bickering that goes on
in families on like week three of a trip like that.
Yeah yeah, yeah, not delightful. Uh So I'll travel the
world with you, but please don't ask me to camp.

(11:16):
I bet you camp please, yeah, please? Ah, roads, there
are so many other roads we could talk about that.
As I was working on this one, I was like, oh,
we could do a whole other We do a series
of these where we talk about like three more roads
next time. Yeah, famous roads of Rome and other places. Yeah.

(11:36):
I've had I've had Root sixty six on my short
list for a while, but just have had sort of
trouble thinking about how to tackle it because that's got
its whole persona. Yeah. In the United States, really and
then not so much roads. There are long distance trails
that I also kind of tinker with the idea of doing.

(12:00):
Sometimes total coincidence. Our other episode this week also has
some road overlap with this, because the like what we
were talking about in the United States, we were talking about,
you know, the funding of the government to build a road,
but there were a lot of other roads that were

(12:21):
really really really terrible for decades after that. Yeah, which
is like the other episode of this week. In our
accidental theme for the week, we also talked about the

(12:44):
twenty fifth Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps, which had another big
focus on roads, really yucky roads in some cases. Yeah,
the roads I mean, broadly speaking, the roads in the
United States were not good at this point, and like
the roads out on what was thought of as the
frontier for the most part, particularly not good. A lot

(13:05):
of them were like wagon roads and cart paths and
things that had never been like they were sort of
tracks made through the area without necessarily any kind of
additional surfacing on them. And this trip sounds so unpleasant
in so many ways, just awful, And I'm so I'm

(13:27):
so curious about how the soldiers themselves really felt about it.
Like we got all this stuff from Moss, and we
have all these newspaper dispatches, but so little from the
actual point of view of the soldiers who had. As

(13:47):
I understand it, people volunteered for this, and Moss selected
the twenty that he thought would be the most suited
for it, right, And it's like, was this more fun
than whatever they had been doing at the fort or
was it awful? Or did they think it would be
a and it turned out b Yeah. And I think

(14:10):
I've talked in our behind the scenes episodes before I
think about following other people's through hikes on various social
media and a couple of people I have followed who
have been doing like a bike around the world situation
or some kind of long distance bike ride. But overwhelmingly

(14:33):
the folks doing bike rides have been on roads and
bike paths and surfaces that are made for that purpose,
and also on specialty bikes that are made for that purpose. Yeah,
also on yet for sure, like way way more advanced
equipment than these folks would have had access to at all.

(14:57):
And you know, sometimes the people who are doing either
these the through hikes or the long distance bike rides
or whatever, will be like really candid about the fact
of like, this is actually pretty miserable today, right, even
with way more sophisticated gear to try to do it with.
So yeah, I wish I wish I knew more about

(15:19):
what those twenty soldiers individually and collectively thought about all
of it. Yeah, this is not my idea of a
good time. None of that is my right. Like I
just said that, I on road trips, I don't camp.

(15:40):
I can't imagine wanting to just be in the elements
constantly for days and days and days over hundreds of miles.
Certainly not in an experimental situation. Where you know everything
is going to go poorly, like I think about you know,
even like distance running that I've done is nothing compared

(16:02):
to this. No, Right, it's like three hours and then
you go inside and you have a shower and you
eat something delicious. Yeah, and you're very spoiled. Walk around
Disney with your metals on and everybody can cry away yeah, yeah,

(16:22):
oh thank you. I love to walk in the woods.
I haven't been camping in quite a while, but I
have had some really good camping experiences. I will say that, like,
the last time I went camping was many years ago.

(16:43):
It was when I was a massage therapist and I
was taking a continuing education class where you could camp
on the property. And so one of my coworkers and
I were camping on the property to save money, basically
so that we wouldn't have to pay for a hotel.
Right and night one camping on the property, woke up,

(17:04):
we were like, that was amazing, the best night of
sleep I've had in so long. Night two of sleeping
on our like sleeping mats on the ground. We woke
up the next day and we're like that, Okay, one
night was great. Two nights officially too much. And of
course that was long enough ago. I'm twenty years older
than that. Now. I love to walk in the woods.

(17:27):
I don't want to be too hot or too cold,
or too buggy or too wet. If it's raining. There
is an amount of rain that's great, but there's an
amount of rain that's miserable. So when I watch other
people on their through hikes, I feel like it's a
thing that I sort of sometimes will imagine myself doing,

(17:48):
and then I'm like, but there would be a part
where it would be hard and I would just want
to go home. Yeah, And I mean my hat is
off to people who like to take on challenges like
that just to see what they're capable of and push
their own limits. But I know where my limits are
and there, Yeah, I get angry when, like a hotel

(18:09):
bar isn't open when I want it to be. So
I can't I cannot even imagine being like, and you're
out of water. The only water will make you feel terrible.
And also strangers might have to give you some eggs,
or you're going to have a really rough day tomorrow. Yeah,

(18:31):
strangers might refuse to give you eggs, right, or the
strangers could want to hurt you. No, thank you. I
mean that's just aside from all of the physical arduousness, right,
but the physical arduousness is enough for me to go no,
but I thanks I live a very privileged life and

(18:52):
I don't need to make those kinds of decisions as
part of my career path. Yeah, there's just that this was,
as we said in the episode, it was covered extensively
in newspapers, lots of you know, official stuff on it,

(19:16):
written by Moss. So it's pretty well documented. And I
think you could have a whole podcast that's just like
the day by day almost account of what this ride
was like. Yeah, so we more in terms of the
actual last nineteen hundred mile ride. We hit more of
the highlights and the general sense of it and not

(19:39):
like every single stop they made and every single hazard
they faced. Still like kind of a remarkable thing for
a group of people to have done at the end
of the nineteenth century. That anniversary celebration that was back
in twenty twenty two, there were people that re enacted

(19:59):
the ride, Like there were some ride routes that people
could go on that were more like a section of it.
But I think there was at least one person who
was intending to recreate the whole ride, and I did
not look deep enough into it to know whether this
person was trying to go cross country or sticking to
like today's more established roads right with a more rideable

(20:22):
surface on them than going over soft sand ankle deep
like I don't even like to walk in the soft sand.
Just from like the beginning of the beach to down
where the tide has come. It's I mean, it's a
great knockout for your legs, but it's not comfortable. And

(20:42):
the idea of I mean, here's here's the thing. I
also think about a lot when we're talking about something
like this and just how difficult it had to have
been and how tough these people were, right, Like I mean, I,
as we just talked about lake, I have done like
half marathons and one marathon, and like I was doing
that in like the most advanced technical clothing and shoes

(21:08):
that have progressed over you know, more than one hundred
years since all of this went on, and I still
was like beat at the end of it, like wiped out, chafy,
felt gross, everything hurt. This had none of those benefits.
They had not invented wicking anything. At that point, they
had not had not you know, did it. We're packing

(21:31):
their little glide sticks that will stop chafing. I know
that various various times and cultures have come up with
their own ingenious ways to deal with some of those things,
but I just still marvel at how tough it had
to have been. Yeah, when I read the things that
they were carrying with them, one of the things I
was struck by was like it was not like they

(21:54):
even had additional changes of clean clothing. Yeah, And like
same from watching people talking about their through hikes, Like
I know a lot of people hike in an outfit,
but also a lot of people recommend bring something clean
to sleep and so that you feel at least kind
of better when you're trying to get some rest. And

(22:17):
this packing list was like one one of each of
these things, at most two of each of various things.
And I was like, you're gonna be in that your whole,
your whole, sweaty, dirty, buggy, stinky time. Yeah. I keep
thinking about the the song from the that was not

(22:40):
in the original version of Beauty and the Beast, but
it is in later on. It's called human Again. Oh yeah,
which is what I always sing to myself when I'm
changing out of sweaty, disgusting clothes into something Yeah, delightful.
It has nothing to do with you know, being turned
from what should be an inanimate object but is sentient
into an actual heath. And again because it is such

(23:03):
a like mental boost. I don't even know if boost
is the right thing, but a normalizer to just be
able to put on fresh clothes. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I
can't imagine. I'm I'm in awe of their resilience for sure,

(23:24):
for sure. Yeah, I'm so glad we got this suggestion
from Kalista for this episode because again I don't think
I had heard of them, and was fascinated by this
whole story of this bike ride. And then just also
in general, we've got a couple of episodes that have
been really interesting to me that are about people who
have been in the military doing jobs that are not

(23:46):
the jobs that immediately come to mind. Yeah, like you know,
the postal core, sorting out all the male problems and
that kind of stuff. So I was glad to get
to do it. You know, if you have IDAs is
about episodes, send us a note. History Podcast atiheartradio dot com.

(24:06):
Since it's Friday, whatever's happening over the weekend. I hope
that's going great for you. You will have a Saturday
Classic tomorrow and we will have something brand new on Monday.
Stuff you Missed in History Class is a production of iHeartRadio.

(24:27):
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Tracy V. Wilson

Tracy V. Wilson

Holly Frey

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