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Automotive Traveler Magazine: Vol 3 Iss 5 Page 6

The Road Ahead

Playing tourist in your own backyard.

By Robyn Larson McCarthy

I have never understood the concept of a staycation --that stay-at-home vacation so many Americans were supposedly embracing the last few summers, especially when gas prices threatened to hit five bucks a gallon. Pretending to be on a beach in Downeast Maine or Southern California while sitting with my feet in The Boy's wading pool just never struck me as very relaxing.

Perhaps those with the true staycationing spirit can resist the siren call of unweeded garden corners, unironed laundry, and unfiled paperwork better than I can.

Yet one feature of the ideal staycation--the local day trip--has appealed to automotive travel aficionados long before some clever blogger came up with a neologism to describe it.

Playing tourist in your own little corner of the world can be an enlightening way to rediscover what led you to where you live--or why you stay.

A recent visit from an old friend I met as a student in Munich brought this lesson home. Although his October trip to the States was not his first time here, he had never been to New England.

Rather than lend him a car and send him off as usual with our homemade guide to the region (a binder with articles, maps, road-trip itineraries, and lists of such important highlights as covered bridges and local breweries), we decided to take a day off from work and tag along.

Starting in Peterborough, the postcard-worthy hamlet that inspired Thornton Wilder's Our Town, we headed west on Route 101. Were a girlfriend visiting, we would have started quite specifically in the parking lot of Ava Marie Chocolates, after showing off, maybe even sampling, the wares at this special little shop.

As my German friend is an ER doctor, however, we thought a more health-conscious itinerary was in order. Accordingly, the GPS was set for Five Guys Burgers in Keene.

Over dripping burgers and crunchy