The majority of my childhood was spent with my face pressed to the passenger window of a car, eager to view the broad expanse of the east coast and midwest via the "scenic" Eisenhower Interstate System. The rolling hills and distant ridges viewed from the sweeping curves of a guardrail-lined, access controlled, non-stop super highway were all I knew -- my family planned routes and went out of their way to avoid everything else for the sake of getting there sooner. As an adult, I feel cheated because I know, now, that there is more, much more, to be seen along the two lane highways that weave together and connect towns outside major cities. I want to correct this deficit in my roadtrip journal and I plan to start with a trip from Tampa to Atlanta that will not include I-75 this summer. I also want to continue north after that for several days and explore the Carolinas, although I don't currently have an idea of where I'm going just yet.
...the only problem is, I'm not exactly sure how to go about this. My brain is still wired to look for the familiar blue "lodging" sign when I get tired and simply scout for a hotel from the top of an exit ramp. Is it still possible to do "random" trips without the interstate, or is careful planning, research, and reservation required before one heads out? Is finding available lodging on the back roads an easy task?