I am a Shunpiker. Are you?
What is a Shunpiker? I’m glad you asked.
Jim and I love exploring places we’ve never been. We’ve spent some time in Kentucky, since our son and his family moved there. What a beautiful state! Of course, we must explore. I love the lush green rolling hills covered with oaks, maples, pines, and other trees too numerous to list. Then there are wild berries, dogwood, and azaleas. The colors, in the fall, are breathtaking. The roads meander through quaint villages. Wooden fences border farms, and unique rock walls are everywhere. There is a downside, though. The roads wind in narrow ribbons, with no shoulders, and the locals drive like Nascar racers.
So we were driving along US 27 through Nicholasville, Kentucky one day, when we spotted an odd road sign.
“Shun Pike. What an strange name,” I said. “I wonder if it’s named after a person?”
“Lots of pikes around here, but Shun Pike?” Jim said. “That is different.”
Having lived in New England for several years during our Navy days, the term wasn’t new to us. Pikes are quite prevalent in the east.
Curious, which is my nature, I pulled out my trusty iPhone. Love technology that allows me to find answers, no matter where we are. And, after all, there might be a story here.
I checked The Free Dictionary. “It’s a side road used to avoid the tolls or traffic of a turnpike, or to travel on side roads, avoiding turnpikes. And this is interesting,” I said, still searching. “According to Wikipedia, Shunpikes were in use in the United States in the early 1800s. For example, a turnpike was built around 1810 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, and a toll was charged to cross it at Taylor’s River. The residents didn’t want to pay, so they got together and built a slight bridge called the “Shunpike” across the river west of the Turnpike bridge, so travelers and teamsters could cross without charge.”
Jim chuckled. “That sounds like our kind of road. We shun the pikes. We take side roads to avoid the traffic. Does that make us shunpikers?”
“I don’t know. Is there such a word? I’ll check.”
I engaged Siri. She came up with shunt piker, which led to a site about doing shunts for heart patients.
“No, no. I want shunpiker, Siri.”
“Here’s what I found on the web for I want shun Piker or Siri,” my friendly phone voice replied.
I couldn’t believe Merriam-Webster wanted to know where I’d heard it. I scrolled down and clicked on Wikipedia. “Hmm. It’s here and includes anyone who avoids major highways and prefers “scenic interludes along lightly traveled country roads.”
“We’re Shunpikers, then?”
“Yup, that’s describes us. I like the sound of that.” I couldn’t help grinning. I’d discovered a new word.
Whether in our rolling home or our car, we love to take the back roads, the scenic routes, and the roads less traveled. We are not in a hurry, but want to enjoy the beauty, the way points, the history, and the Americana. We are adventurers, looking for places others miss.
As we continued down the road, we put together a bullet list. Does it fit you?
You might be a Shunpiker if you:
- Love road trips
- Hate traffic
- Would rather take the scenic route
- Are in no hurry
- Drive erratically, due to rubber necking (looking at the passing scenery while driving)
- Like to stop at hysterical (historical) landmarks
- Have to try the Blue-plate special, or the miner’s special, logger’s special, Captain’s special, Peggy Sue’s special, etc at small town diners
- Will go miles out of your way to see a local attraction, historic battle ground, giant dinosaur, jack-a-lope or Sasquatch
- Like to check out local museums, antique stores, second hand stores, flea markets,
- Brake for photo ops
- Will turn around for a missed roadside attraction.
When you’re a Shunpiker, you never know what the day will bring.
See you down the road.