I don’t travel well. Confined spaces for extended periods of time make me twitchy. I want out, Long distances in a car are the worst, although airplane travel is its own special hell…
If we travel by freeway, and it is almost impossible not to in order to get to our destination in a timely manner, I zone out. The incessant sameness of every freeway lulls me into a semi comatose state.
I noticed on our latest trip along the road that never changes but only repeats the same 10o mile loop over and over again, that from the freeway the scenery changes very little from one end of the road to the other. Trees or brush or swamp on both sides of the road for miles and miles of sameness. The median either mown grass or lines of scrawny trees, more screen than scenery. Bridge barriers are too high to see over as well.
I am sure it is all about safety and swift simple travel, but it is boring, and gives no sense of the character of the place traveled through.
I doze on freeways. It is my escape from repetitive sameness.
And it seems more and more that we travel by freeways. Fast and simple, the reasoning being that we are going to spend our time not traveling but exploring our chosen destination. And those destinations are further and further apart, thanks to the convenience of freeways. It is a vicious loop.
And every time we get in the car and travel via freeway I feel a little less connected to the place I am and the place I am destined to be. I feel a little desperate to see the change in the landscape, the flora, the customs of the people, how they live, the style of house they choose to live in, the differences and similarities of life lived day-to-day. It is like a long line of ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————before the next phrase or line or thought.
It is not that I don’t like to travel. I am curious about other places, other lives. My problem lies in the method of travel, the means of getting from one place to another, The transition is missing. The story is abruptly stopped and started, the long tedious expository sections between brief periods of action, dull.
The solution, travel the backroads. Sure, but the added hours, days to a trip by traveling as if freeways didn’t exist, limits the distance of any trip. Slow down and watch the scenery is fine, unless you have committed to being a certain place at a certain time.
Break it up, freeway time and backroad time. We do that, it helps, but there remains the pervasive sense of freeway life extending into the backroads. From the freeway you see mile after mile of chain hotel signs and fast food restaurants. On the backroads you see the same thing- dollar generals and lumber yards. Small town main streets are short sections of the road with bars and hair salons amid boarded up or blank store fronts. All the commercial activity of the town has moved to the edges, where the freeway ramps are found.
We seek cultural and natural diversity and what we praise and promote is the past. The plantation system of the south, and the frontier town of the west are vague archetypes that no longer exist except as attractions for the tourist and traveler. We seek the diversity of the past while traveling through the homogenized present.
It makes me wonder why we bother to travel, the experience is as disconnected from the daily as the places we visit are from the world of freeways and comfort inns.
I like to travel; the premise is strongly favorable, the process is mind numbing hell.
He, who puts up with me and my sullen despair and boredom, deserves a medal, sainthood, a stiff drink, and an extra large bowl of ice cream at the end of everyday we travel. Yes, I am that bad.