My favorite thing about back roads is the general store.
Rebersburg in Penn Valley has two directly across from each other. The one on the south side of the street has hitching rings on its porch for the Amish horse and buggies. Another in Moshannon sells hunting gear and ammo. At one time you could outfit an entire hunting camp from that store—including guns. Some have lunch counters; others are attached to garages.
Waterville’s has a large, sweaty wheel of white cheddar under a glass bell. The bell is attached to a string and counterweight. The girl at the counter cuts large slabs and warps them in wax paper. Another in Cobern comes complete with rocking chairs and geezers on the porch. All have live bait.
These are the places I look for when I ride. They remind me of childhood road trips with my grandparents. Lazy summer days spent at produce stands and evenings out for ice cream at dairy stores and roadside drive-ins. These are the places that close early in the winter but stay open late into the night once summer arrives. Places that get swallowed up as rural America becomes gentrified. These are the places I love.