Why I avoid highways

I've been doing a lot of driving recently. I left my very quaint hometown of Cary on August First. In my navigator, I charted up Washington, District of Columbia. And since I left my house at seven in the morning, I broke for lunch at my cousin's restaurant near Charlottesville, Virginia.

I might want to use our great national interstate system for this trip. According to Google Maps, the trip would take about three hours for each leg, adding up to five hours and fifty-eight minutes. This seems okay, but if I changed one option in my app, I would add a measly one hour to the total time, and experience so much more than seventy mph roadways can offer.

Why the interstate is good

In what might have been Eisenhower's only good policy decision, the interstate system was created and funded by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. It enables faster travel by car and truck for people and goods throughout the nation. The act's design created a national standard and funding for highways but left ownership and construction up to the states. It put lots of people to work and helped southern states beef up their industry.

Why the interstate is bad

Here comes the meat of this little anecdote. According to Wikipedia (which happens to be the only source of information for this post) the interstate is blamed for "contributing to the decline of some cities and for destroying predominately African-American neighborhoods in urban centers," and I'm sure we've all seen Cars.

5 reasons why I avoid highways

  1. Small Towns

    Since the interstate cuts out a lot of the trip time between places, I would miss out on all the small towns between destinations. I quite like being routed down the main street of a community that I've never been in before.

  2. Scenery

    The back roads that Google Maps takes me down are always very pretty and scenic. Very rarely do I go an entire trip without seeing one of those "NC Byway" or state equivalent signs. Even if they aren't always byways, the routes always end up being very hilly and curvy and fun to drive on.

  3. Uniqueness

    Every road has its quirks. Especially in Virginia, there are so many short state roads crisscrossing farmland. I try to drive down a road if I haven't been on it before; I try to take a new route whenever I visit the same place more than once.

  4. Lack of Cops

  5. Storytelling potential

    Just today, on my way through Pennsylvania to visit cousins, I passed through a town with not just a roundabout, but an oval-about! I thought it was the coolest thing to drive on an oval-about after only seeing them in quirky Cities: Skylines YouTube videos.

Those were some short reasons why I think that avoiding highways is sometimes worth it. I definitely did not list all of the reasons floating around in my head, nor did I elaborate as much as I could have. Having just arrived at my Irish-descendant cousin's home I was offered alcohol and now I'm just a little drunk. But in condolences, I'll post the GPX track of my trip from Baltimore to State College from the second.

Remind me to add taxonomies to this website so I can file this one under "anecdotes".