Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's In a Town?

My new blog friend Donna recently had a post "What's In A Name?" and that got me to thinking (for God only knows what reason) about "what's in a town".  We've been on the road for over 11 years now. In the beginning we seemed to be on the road more, but even then, we'd stay at a place about 3 months, usually volunteering, before moving on.

You (or at least we did) get pretty much settled in if you stay in an area for 3 months.  You learn the area....  the roads, the best stores to shop, the places to eat...  you get to know the "locals" some...  and, if you're like me, you even start to pick up some of the local dialect.  (When the heck did I start saying "y'all"?)

So I got to thinking about what's important to us when we arrive at a brand new area.

Well, for the first 5 years or so we didn't have a tow vehicle.  So our bicycles were our main mode of transportation to get around.  This pretty much meant that most errands could be done on a daily basis if they were within a 5 mile distance.  We could have ridden further, but somehow this was about the limit.

Back then we had Pocketmail...  we had to find a pay phone to send e-mails to friends for family.  We belong to Escapees, so getting our mail once a week, or even once a month, became the normal.

We had our cell phone but since we were often way out in the boonies, we were totally away from any cell tower and phone service was limited.

Enter...  "What's In A Town?"....

From the beginning of our travels libraries have been important.  Not only as a source of reading material (we haven't had a TV for over 30 years)...  but ....  INTERNET!....  Everything from on-line banking to keeping in touch with friends and family.  Monthly reconcililation of credit cards...  bank statements...  all that stuff. 

I have probably a dozen or more library cards from all over the country....  I cherish every one as my love of libraries goes WAY back...  I have wonderful memories of when I was quite young and the BookMobile came around .....  I can't remember when books were not a part of my life.

Now we carry around our satellite dish...  not for TV, but for internet service.  While we no longer need a library for internet use, I can't imagine not being able to "borrow" books as both of us read voraciously!  Maybe this is why E-books hasn't appealed to me....

The local bank...  again, probably not a major issue these days.  We do have on-line banking services.  But...  we've found that having an account in a "local" bank makes life a lot easier.  Especially a bank like Wells Fargo that is throughout the west. We don't have a big balance in any local bank, but even a small amount allows easier cashing of checks, using a notary public, or other services banks offer.

Knowing where the local post office is....  Again, we use Escapees Mail Service.  And most of the time now we do have a physical address to have our mail sent to.  But dropping in to mail birthday cards and other stuff gives me the opportunity to get to know the postal employees in small post offices.  It's amazing how far a friendly hello goes these days.  I've had postal emplyees hold mail that they could easily have sent back...  just because they remembered me.

Church...  this is a personal choice.  I love going to different churches.  I'm particularly fond of bilingual mass.  Hey...  when I was a kid, it was all in Latin... what's the big deal?  I go to one church that is TRI-LINGUAL...  some in English, some in Spanish, some in Latin!  I LOVE it!  Listening to the sermons... listening to (and trying to participate in) the songs!  Different areas of the USA have different customs... I don't care what the"Church" says...  it may be the same, but it's different.

Grocery Stores...  Ah...  my favorite subject!  I love grocery shopping.  I love regional foods!  I love to shop, I love to cook...  I love to eat!  The "Mom and Pop" stores are fun... the IGA is LOCAL...  you can go to Wal-Mart and get plenty of food, but go to the local stores...  watch the people who shop there...  ask questions if you don't know what something is....  or how to fix it.  Most people (women especially) LOVE to tell you how to fix a cut of meat or some fruit or veggie you've never heard of.  I know this is pretty much a Big Box store, but here in Texas, the H.E.B. groceries are fantastic!  Go to one...  you'll see what I mean.

Let's see...  what have I left out....  bank, church, PO, grocery, library....  ????

I closed this...  then remembered an important place....  the Laundromat!  I don't know how many of you have traveled on a Greyhound Bus, but the local laundromat kind of reminds me of that.  You meet  the most interesting people with the most interesting stories. Everyone from the wealthy lady whose washer broke and she had to come here to the young mom with an infant, a toddler and an obnoxious 4 year old... who had to scrape together enough coins just to get the diapers done.  Laundromats kind of bring together people of all walks of life.

To me, this is what traveling is all about...  whether we're in the USA or another country....  each place is a  a new adventure....  Getting to know the local customs and surroundings is a wonderful experience.

No pictures this time....  just words.   Of why and how I love the places we live.

That's all for Today...


  1. What an interesting post. Things sure change rapidly don't they. So much is different just in the last 11 years. I can sure relate to the comments about the laundromat. There is always an interesting cross section of humanity. And have you noticed, many laundromats now have free internet! That, I like.

  2. Just found your blog after you began following ours and I have to admit, you have some great thoughts roaming around. Interesting...think maybe we should follow yours and keep up with all those thoughts.

  3. Great post Sharon. Both you and Donna write interesting posts and I certainly enjoy them with my morning coffee. We get so caught up with the speed of technology changes that we quickly forget how much easier life has become due to those changes. Sadly I for one, have come to rely heavily upon the technology and yet I somehow yearn for a simpler life. Go figure!

    Just BS!(Bob and Sue)

  4. All of those things are important and a town that has them close together is great for someone that is walking or biking. Most people drive everywhere. When I am in an RV park, I see my neighbors coming and going in their vehicles several times a day. I'm wondering about the satellite for internet service, I don't have a TV. I use a Sprint mobile Hot Spot but have not been happy with it. Is your satellite dish mounted on your RV, or do you set it up outside?

  5. A very nice account of what it means to travel, and to have a passion for that. Thanks for being a follower with the American-Traveler!

  6. Love your insight! With all those years on the road, you must be blessed. See ya

  7. I like being in a place long enough to know which laundromat is best, and where the post office and Walmart are. I don't use libraries anymore, since I have a Kindle and Internet in the motor home. I don't have a toad or a bike, so every ten days or so I drive to town and get everything done in a day. I DO like towns with a Walmart, because I can get pretty much anything I need to buy in one store.

    Interesting post! :)