The wonderful thing about road tripping is you find things by accident. I have indulged in two major road trips in my life, and countless small ones. The big ones were in South Africa in 2005, and Europe the year after. The SA one involved riding from Grahamstown to Cape Town and then back to KZN where my folks live. I had been to a lot of places along that route in my years in SA, but there were still things we found along the way that were totally unexpected.
One of many possible examples: My dad smsing me when we were in Swellendam, and informing me that there was a fairy sanctuary there. And sure enough, when we went looking we found said sanctuary - a quite delightful little garden filled with various figures and statues ranging from the tinkerbell-esque to garden gnomes, from fragile glass bubbles that looked like they'd burst, to gigantic squatting toads beside ponds. I was delighted! The boys (my husband and his sons) rolled their eyes and indulged me.
Or accidentally taking dirt roads on our way to Cape Town, because we were off the beaten track. And eventually finding our way back to the main roads via many little farm gates. You are so not supposed to do that in SA. It's generally considered fairly dangerous, but as it turned out, we were ok.
Or driving merrily through the Klein Karoo, and accidentally coming across
Ronnie's Sex Shop, a delightfully idiosyncratic bar in the middle of nowhere, run by one of those marvellous characters you only ever meet in the middle of nowhere on road trips. One of these days Ronnie will get his whole own post, so I won't say too much now. :)
Europe resulted in these little adventures too. Taking the road less travelled meant that we drove through many a teeny tiny towns in France. In one of these little towns we ended up having lunch at a restaurant the size of a small study, with a huge number of roadworkers. We were shoved in a corner, shared our table with French people we could barely talk to, handed a carafe of wine and fed a very high-carb meal. And you know what? It was probably one of my favourite meals of the whole trip. It was so accidentally authentic. They rolled their eyes at us foreigners, stood on no ceremony whatsoever, and allowed for a fabulous people watching experience.
Short road trips can result in this sort of thing too. A and I have already stopped randomly at a restaurant in the middle of a teeny tiny peninsula village close to Dunedin. It had a lovely little courtyard, and when they said, "go on out, we'll bring the menu to you" we certainly didn't expect them to bring out the whole big whiteboard they'd written the menus on.
I am all in favour of taking the road less travelled. It's slower, but the view is always prettier than a motorway, and the food is better too.