Are You A Shunpiker?

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What is a shunpiker? No, I'm not Sarah Palin so I didn't make the word up. (Sorry - I couldn't resist.)

I first came upon the word shunpiker while sitting on a Texas beach doing a crossword puzzle. Webster's dictionary defines shunpiking as the practice of avoiding super highways, especially for the purpose of driving on back roads. You'll understand why it quickly became a favorite word describing our preferred way of vacation RV travel.

Boondocking and shunpiking go hand-in-hand. I'm sure glad someone invented these two really neat sounding words. Together, they perfectly describe our style of travel.

And the following quote pretty well sums up why.

"Thanks to the Interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything."
(Charles Kuralt)

The word shunpiking became common between 1920 and 1940 when it was created as a combination of shun (to avoid) and pike (short for turnpike). The word seems to have originated in the eastern states, possibly Virginia, when tolls were collected for certain roads and bridges. Rather than pay the tolls, local farmers, businessmen, and other travelers protested by driving the back roads, often going miles out of their way to avoid payment.

How fitting then that, for us, the ever-frugal travelers, the connection is twofold. We're always looking for the least expensive and most scenic route, preferring the scenic back roads to the interstate highways whenever possible.

"Ahhh," I hear you saying, "so that explains the name: Frugal Shunpiker's Guides!

and the path I've laid out in them and, with a little experience and knowledge under your belt, you too may be shunning the pikes and bumping down a dirt road to stumble upon free legal camping -- possibly the only way many of us will ever afford to see this continent's most scenic attractions.

What wonderful discoveries have you made while shunpiking?




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