Imagine Mikhail Gorbachev, former Russian president, meeting the former governor of Nevada, Bob Miller, in Las Vegas to talk about scenic byways.
Sound absurd? Could never happen?
In March, these two men and the board of a newly formed group, the Russian Heritage Highway Foundation, met at a themed reception at Lake Las Vegas to discuss the creation of a scenic byway on a 435-mile route linking Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Some years ago, leaders in Norway created the Old Post Road, a scenic byway commemorating the route mail carriers took through the mountainous terrain before the advent of paved and plowed roads. This Norwegian byway features a combination of driving and walking with highlighted natural and man-made features along both segments.
Scenic byways have always had the potential to draw tourists, encourage cultural exchange, highlight an area's history, showcase natural beauty and now may even lead to improved world understanding as the idea begins to spread across not only our own nation, but also around the world.
Here in the Brainerd lakes area the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, officially designated in 1998, has become an increasingly popular day trip for not only visitors to the area, but also residents who enjoy the opportunity to appreciate the history, culture and beauty right outside their own back door.
The area is fortunate to already be a part of the ever-growing world embrace of the values and advantages of scenic byways.
To learn more about scenic byways in general, visit www.bywaysonline.org. For information about the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway, go to www.paulbunyanscenicbyway.org.
(Portions of this article are from Vistas May/June 2004 edition.)
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