Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Road

Alton Brown is eating his way along the road again in Feasting On Asphalt. Last season they followed the blue highways from east to west and this season they're following the Mississippi River from south to north. I can't get enough of this show and it's not Alton and it's not the eating. It's the road, or the places and people along the road. I remember as a little kid lying in my bed not sleeping, imagining that I was actually in a motorcycle sidecar zooming over a ribbon of highway.

I've read all kinds of books about people traveling on the highways of the US, fiction and nonfiction (or roman a' clef, in the case of Kerouac), traveling by car, van, motorcycle, bicycle, bus, and on foot. I have done some road-tripping, up and down I-5 so often it has become a dance, and back and forth between the west coast and Colorado. None of it, however, has resulted in meeting people along the way (though I have dined in some fine and not-so-fine diners). I've always been on my way somewhere, trips where the journey was the means to the end, not the means and the end.

The national highway system exists because Eisenhower, a military man, saw that one was needed for national defense - he thought that in this big country of ours, soldiers and supplies needed a way to get to each other that was not reliant on railroads. I've only traveled across half of it by car and I'm always surprised at how far away everything is.

I don't know if I'm the kind of person who could jump out of a car in any small town and have a conversation with a local. I don't know if I'm too shy for that. But I hope that sometime I will be able to take a trip across at least part of the country and have the trip be the trip.

1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

Nice post.

I've been living on a small island for more than 20 years. When I say small, I mean small-about 6 to 7 miles wide and 14 miles long (at the widest and longest points). When I moved here, everything was close. Now parts of it seem distant!

And then I visit the U.S. where my family and friends think that any place you can drive to in a day is close. Detroit to Cincinnati--close. Wichita, KS to Lincoln, NE--close.

Love the perspective.