The art of shun-piking is a lost one these days

3 mins read


There is a new phrase that now exists in my vocabulary. It is shun-piking. This is the art of avoiding turnpikes. The phrase came up on a recent trip when my husband suggested it.

“Let’s just stay off the main roads and go shun-piking,” he said.

Evidently one of his old buddies embraced the concept because he was too cheap to pay highway tolls. By avoiding turnpikes, he found he could save a lot of money. But the added benefit was the ability to see small towns and attractions that one normally would not see on turnpikes and interstates.

Although there are not many tolls for our trips up and down the East Coast, we do find ourselves paying tolls for the “easy pass” lanes and bridges sometime.

But my husband’s thought was not so much as to save money, but to see explore areas we had never been before. And so off we went – shun-piking. 

It allowed us to find places like Marie’s Diner for lunch (which was outstanding) and a cute little breakfast place which was packed with people greeting the waitresses as best friends and saying things like, “The usual, Mabel.” You just don’t hear that in McDonalds or Burger King. 

You don’t need Trip Advisor to tell you where to eat. Just find the busiest parking lot in a rural town.

We discovered that Roanoke Rapids really did have rapids and is located on the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont and the coastal plain. My fifth-grade geography slowly came back to me as I read the brochure.

We found many fruit and vegetable stands and the out of the way antique stores. I told my husband that I felt like we were Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz from the “American Pickers” television show. Fortunately, we saved one another from buying old junk that other people were trying to get rid of themselves.

“Please, do not buy that old wooden bucket,” he said. “It will just be one more thing our children will have to throw away.”

“You have no imagination.” I responded as I took the old pipe holder away from him. “You don’t smoke”

We did learn a couple of things, like take an atlas (we did). Because if there are no cell towers, your Google Map app is worthless. 

Also, make sure your car is in good working order and filled with fuel. Gas stations and mechanics are far and few between.

The shun-piking was very interesting, but there is one hitch. Watch the speed limit signs! 

Small towns have speed limits that plummet from 55 to 25 quickly. If you save any money on tolls, you may have to spend it on speeding tickets.

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