Sunday, April 22, 2007

Welcome to The Shunpiker's Guide

In a land that looks the same from one interstate exit to the next, with soul-less strip centers, big-box retailers and chain-store restaurants conspiring to suck the spirit out of the Great American Roadtrip, it’s a relief to know there are still roads lined with independent gems along the way. All you have to do is shun the pikes and expressways and point your ragtop along the bends and backroads of Pennsylvania’s two-lane blacktops.

It’s along these forgotten byways where you might run across the world’s only 3-D replica of Whistler’s Mother; a homemade, life-size dinosaur collection towering over the Lake Erie piedmont; artisan Pecorino-Romano cheeses hand-rubbed with olive oil by Amish children; a colonial tavern haunted by an 18th-century road pirate who was hanged in the barroom; the flag that cradled the head of a mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln, its stars and stripes still smudged with the president’s bloodstains; a coal town with more churches than most and more pizza parlors than churches; world-class wine made with frozen grapes harvested in the dead of winter; a chili-dog parlor feud fueled by intense family passions; a diner with chocolate pie so good trains make unannounced lunch stops behind it; and a 96-year old helicopter-museum tour guide who still jumps out of planes.

Welcome to the world of The Shunpiker’s Guide, your personal roadmap to the most interesting roadtrips that’ll ever consume a weekend. With each installment you’ll get a story of history, heritage and absolute gluttony, written with a reasonable amount of wit and a whole-hearted commitment to wide-eyed wonder. You’ll learn where to eat, what to see, where to stay and how to avoid the homogeny of franchise America. And we’ll always welcome your feedback, your stories, and your passionate recommendations in an email to

Roadtrips can still be miles of spontaneous fun and serendipitous discovery. Especially when we dedicate our efforts to preserving the experience of an independent proprietor's personal passion. It’s all waiting for you off the pike and along the beautiful backroads from the Civil War Trails of The Seven Valleys to the birthplace of Wooly Willy in Smethport. Hop in the shotgun seat and ride along with stories inspired by our favorite hidden gems in The Shunpiker’s Guide.

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