On potlickers...

The driving along the river road has been better these past weeks.

As fall fades into winter highway 61 empties of its tourists and all that are left on the road are locals, those who use the road for commerce, and occasional travelers south. The speeds have approached the posted again and the run to LaCrosse has shortened. All in all its a very good thing, except, of course if your business was about the potlickers.

Potlicker is a family term, from my wife's side, for people who drift along the road at whatever speed they choose, usually slow, as they gawk at the scenery. Along the river road they lead caravans of cars up and down the hills, people trapped by roads too narrow and winding to pass and the person leading the way at a speed somewhat less than posted.

They're a mixed blessing at best. For those who have places to go and things to do they're a nerve wracking obstacle. For the people who live along the road and make their living from tourists they're slow rolling cash machines prone to stop at every antique store and gas station on route. Avoiding them means traveling in the small hours of the morning or late at night. I choose the day as I never tire of the scenery and so I drive south and hope I miss them.

But these last few weeks the trees have gone bare, the sky has grayed, and the temperature has dropped. The summer tourists, the ones who sought vistas and a day on the river watch football games now. And the fall tourists, those who basked in the magnificent colors have trickled away. Only those who love the stark beauty of leafless trees remain and travelers with places to go and truckers carrying their wares along the winding river road.

And I drive alone with my thoughts and whatever is on the radio. Full speed ahead.

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