(Driving across Great Salt Lake Desert)

I am about to wrap up a journey of more than 8,000 miles while traveling (driving) from the far reaches of the northeast all the way to California and back again along a different route.

It has been an amazing and very enjoyable experience, and while I have traveled LOTS during my previous career, that travel always involved flying from one location to another and is no comparison to my recent experience. Driving these distances is an entirely (ENTIRELY) different experience.

Why? Here’s why…

Because driving from coast to coast on the highways and roads in-between reveals the VASTNESS of land between TINY DOTS of VERY DENSE POPULATION. It is really quite remarkable. The “in-between” is HUGE. Most of our country is rural, seemingly barely populated, or not populated at all.

It is true that east of the Mississippi bears lots more population density on average than west, however until you reach the notorious corridors of population (e.g the mid Atlantic up the coast from DC to New York to Boston), lots of the rest is mostly rural except for the city regions and their attached suburban regions.

Several key thoughts and observations really strike home while driving across this great country…

1. How the politics, rules, and regulations that emanate from these relatively tiny pockets of heavily populated regions affect the vast and immense geographical rural areas in-between where day to day life is so very different. Not sure how to solve that difference, but it is quite evident.

2. How you can be driving for hours and hours with a relatively light or normal amount of vehicle traffic and then suddenly it ramps up to chaos, close-calls, and crazy aggressive drivers as you traverse a populated region. And then fairly quickly you’re out of it as you drive on and it returns to ‘normal’. Exceptions to this are in the notoriously population dense regions of the country where it’s chaos all of the time (no rural areas in-between)…

3. The various regions of this country can be starkly different in their own unique beauty, geography, and climate. For example the difference and experience between driving all the way across the Mojave Desert to that of driving across I-70 up and over the Rocky Mountains to that of the hills and curves of West Virginia (today’s route) are astronomically different! Or by driving just a day South can make a huge difference in the temperature/climate (a nice relief during the late winter / early spring months compared to northern NH 😉 )

4. When you are within the population-dense regions, the potential encounters of “close calls”, dangerous situations, or most any human related risks are orders of magnitude higher than otherwise. It is the same regardless of which city region you’re in. The more people, the likelier of encountering issues. Very predictable as to the general increase in risks.

5. The Truckers keep this country stocked with food and supplies. They are always out there, driving the highways and byways of the land… People have no idea…

6. There are lots of apparently (visibly) poor regions in-between the dotted landscape of populated regions, however I suspect that many of the people there are probably happier than the stressed-out debt-laden city slickers 😉

7. There is an unbelievable and astounding number of flying bugs out there, seemingly millions of which have been “eliminated” on my truck’s windshield during the trip. I don’t know how many times I pulled off an exit to use a gas station’s window washer/scrubber to clear the windshield. I have probably extincted at least one species of bug…

8. With that said, there’s no place like home, no matter where that is. We will be glad to return there on Friday 😉

My Road Atlas

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