Driving On Old Highways Is Good For Your Health


For the past three years I’ve taken a vacation in late June or early July, and this year it lasted for three weeks. This is a very therapeutic thing to do, and for me the best parts of the vacation are when I drive on the secondary highways in areas of pure prairie and a big sky. This year, on June 19th, I was driving out of the northeast exit of Yellowstone National Park onto a stretch of highway 212 known as Scenic Beartooth Drive. I was driving in the Beartooth Range of the Rockies at elevation of about 11,000 feet, and snow was still on the ground.

I drove on highway 47 in southeast Montana between I-90 and I-94 on my way to Medora, North Dakota located in the Badlands part of southwest North Dakota. I love that area in North Dakota, and have vacationed there the past three years. In northwest South Dakota I traveled on highway 16 to Mount Rushmore. I eventually got to highway 83 and drove into Nebraska and Kansas. I turned onto US 56 and drove thru the Oklahoma panhandle until I reached highway 385. Highway 385 took me thru the Texas panhandle to Brownfields Texas. At Brownfields, I turned onto highway 137 to Lamesa, and in Lamesa I turned onto highway 349 to get back home to Midland, Texas.

People who jet to a destination instead of driving along old highways are truly missing out on the opportunity to soothe the soul and rest up for political activism this fall. It’s good to take a break from the internet and not instantly learn the latest news concerning loss of liberty. The other good reason for travels in these parts of these eight states is the people you meet are the best rugged individuals you’ll ever come across. These people aren’t interested in going on the dole to the federal government. They aren’t looking to go on social security disability after their 99 weeks of unemployment compensation runs out, because they are working. They aren’t looking for federal food stamps or complaining about a state tax hike on cigarettes or beer. They don’t see themselves as helpless victims of tornadoes or winter snow storms. They just dig out and rebuild.

According to a CNBC special report five of these eight states are among the top ten, and the other three are in the top 24. Texas is #1 for the third time since this annual report started in 2007.

#1 Texas (#2 in 2011)
Governor: Rick Perry (R)
Top corporate tax rate: No corporate income tax but do have a gross receipts tax with rates not strictly comparable to corporate income tax rates
Top individual tax rate: None
Gasoline taxes/fees: 20.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 6.9

#5 North Dakota (#13 in 2011)
Governor: Jack Dalrymple (R)
Top corporate tax rate: 5.20 percent
Top individual tax rate: 3.99 percent
Gasoline taxes/fees: 23.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 3.0

#6 Nebraska (#10 in 2011)
Governor: Dave Heineman (R)
Top corporate tax rate: 7.81 percent
Top individual tax rate: 6.84 percent
Gasoline taxes/fees: 27.6 cents
Unemployment Rate 3.9

#7 South Dakota (#13 in 2011)
Governor: Dennis Daugaard (R)
Top corporate tax rate: None
Top individual tax rate: None
Gasoline taxes/fees: 24.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 4.3

#10 Wyoming (#21 in 2011)
Governor: Matt Mead (R)
Top corporate tax rate: None
Top individual tax rate: None
Gasoline taxes/fees: 14.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 5.2

#15 Kansas (#11 in 2011)
Governor: Sam Brownback (R)
Top corporate tax rate: 7.00 percent
Top individual tax rate: 6.45 percent
Gasoline taxes/fees: 25.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 6.1

#23 Oklahoma (#28 in 2011)
Governor: Mary Fallin (R)
Top corporate tax rate: 6.00 percent
Top individual tax rate: 5.25 percent
Gasoline taxes/fees: 17.0 cents
Unemployment Rate 4.8

#24 Montana (#38 in 2011)
Governor: Brian Schweitzer (D)
Top corporate tax rate: 6.75 percent
Top individual tax rate: 6.90 percent
Gasoline taxes/fees: 27.8 cents
Unemployment Rate 6.3

Montana is the only one of these eight with a Democrat governor, and I expect Republican Rick Hill will be elected governor this November. I also expect most of these Governors are going to join Texas Governor Rick Perry in refusing expansion of their Medicaid program.

The photos below are not taken by me, but they are memorable reminders of some awesome therapeutic places I have been.

This is a portion of the Beartooth Scenic Drive on highway 212 in northwest Wyoming

This is a portion of highway 47 between I-90 and I-94. The “Big Sky Country” moniker for Montana is very apt.

This is the motel I’ve stayed at for the past three years. The rock formations in the Badlands are awesome.

This is part of highway 16 leading up to Mount Rushmore in northwest South Dakota.

This is a stretch of highway 83 near Valentine, Nebraska.

This is a stretch of highway 83 near Oakley, Kansas.

This is a stretch of highway 56 in the Oklahoma panhandle near Boise City, Oklahoma.

This is a stretch of highway 385 in the Texas panhandle going toward Brownfield, Texas.

This is the skyline of Midland Texas that let me know I was almost home and my vacation was coming to a close.

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I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.
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I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.

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July 11, 2012 6:34 pm

Pilgrim, about 6 years ago my daughter and I took a week long bus trip/ tour from Scottsdale to Vegas. We went to Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce Canyon and landed in Vegas. As you say, road trips can be the best but it was still a marathon.

Thanks for pointing out all these great states and what they have accomplished. Ohio will also join the Medicaid boycott and of course the Dems are apoplectic.

July 11, 2012 9:34 pm

Oh, yeah.1963.  First real vacation the family was able to afford to take.  Do they still put on the Passion Play in the Black Hills?

July 12, 2012 8:35 am

I love long drives, Pilgrim. And the blue highways. And the prairie. And Montana and Wyoming, much better than the desert. Less blue hair, for one.

redneck hippie
July 12, 2012 1:47 pm

I’m a prairie gal, too, ‘pil, being from Kansas. Next trip is to be with family in AZ, but, unfortunately, it’s too far for me to drive. Hope to put my hiking boots to use on Mt. Lemmon – my brother-in-law who’s a musician is also a hiking tour guide as a sideline. I love travelling the scenic routes and blue highways. Followed Old Route 66 from “where the road began” in Chicago down to St. Louis. Then followed scenic routes along the west bank of Mississippi River all the way down to New Orleans. Took us three days to… Read more »

July 12, 2012 6:27 pm

Pil, just got a personal email from Schweitzer, he will be keynote speaker at Ohio Dems state party on the 28. Haha.

July 12, 2012 7:25 pm

Ok, two words” pot holes. Where were the state and/or federal roads the worst?

E Pluribus Unum
July 13, 2012 1:53 am

One of a kind journey, pilgrim.  I envy you this trip. Thanks for sharing a small piece of it.

Nothing quite like big sky, and there’s no telling that to people who don’t know.