mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I traveled like the wind through the rotten fruited plain..

Drove from Baltimore to my parent's house in central NJ today. I go via Pennsylvania (I-83 to I-81 to I-78). Depending on traffic, it can take longer than the traditional Maryland/Deleware/NJ turnpike run, but I've grown to like it better. I started going that way in college, mostly because my Dad liked it and thought I was safer going that way. However, I also like the fact that it doesn't have a ton of tolls (both in terms of time and money), and I like stopping at out of the way gas stations better than stopping at big ugly rest areas. The scenery isn't bad either.

I used to visit my parents a lot more, but the last 9 months or so I've been working Saturdays, so the only time I can visit is on holidays. It's kind of interesting traveling on holidays, because you see plates from all over the country - it makes you realize that Americans really do have strong family ties, and even though they will frequently move cross-country, they also frequently come back to visit and stay in touch with their roots.

I've really grown to like driving as a form of transportation - I've always been a car nut, and never been a mass transit fan, but there's something about rolling through the middle of nowhere in PA at 80 miles an hour, sunroof open, stereo blasting, singing along. It's my car, it's my life, and I can go where I want when I want. Even with high gas prices, silly insurance rates, and other high fixed costs, you can still go pretty far pretty cheaply in this country, and I think that's great. We can leave home for whatever reasons - education, employment, love, whatever - and still be able to visit those we care about.

Lileks had a really good fisking of a Gardian article about a visit to the central U.S. where the writer points out that only 1 in 6 Americans have passports, and Lileks responds that it's because the U.S. is so much bigger, that one can see so much without leaving the country. I think that's true, and that that's a great thing about America - there is so much to see, and it's so easy to see it.

People think of mass transit as a great melting pot - rich and poor on the same stinky bus. But driving is pretty egalitarian too - the guy in the shiny new Maybach and the guy in the beat up K-car share the same road, obey (or not) the same laws, and go to the same place. If there is traffic, they both get stuck in it. Yet they also have the freedom to go where they want, to listen to loud music or talk radio or whatever without bothering anyone, to stop when they want and go what they want. And I think that is a great and underappreciated thing.


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