Epic Roadtrip 2k9: 17 States, 13 Cities, 27 Days Later

ER2k9 Map Epic Roadtrip 2k9: 17 States, 13 Cities, 27 Days Later

The life of a vagabond is one of shifting cities, hours in transit, waiting, boredom, loneliness, excitement and the unknown.

But that’s not always the case.

The past 27 days have been a fast forward blur of cities as a friend and I road tripped from Massachusetts out to Denver then down to Atlanta.

We have stayed in 13 cities (or metropolitan areas) and passed through 17 states in less than a month.  Generally an advocate of stays lasting at least a week (usually 2 weeks) this rush of scenery was a drastic change from city hopping via planes.

Traveling in a car through the U.S. as an American is an experience that so few of us actually take the time to do.  Had we been in Europe we would have passed through as many countries as we had states with their flags, culture and language.

In short the U.S. is massive and diverse in culture, landscape and even language.  The experience of driving through Nebraska end to end with a detour along a state highway towards Chimney Rock was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen.  I would never have called Nebraska beautiful but driving through the windswept plateaus and ravines, kicking up dust and rolling through towns with nothing but a water tower, a gas station/grocery, and dirt roads changed that opinion.  Admiring the country that you live in is something so few Location Independents do.  Most of us are technological nomads accustomed to urban centers with the occasional wilderness jaunt to sate a cultured desire to “get away from it”.

Yet the miles of cornfields, empty highways, decaying farm and industrial towns that I have passed through and stopped in has given me an appreciation that I think only an older generation of vagabonds and nomads understand.  There is a hint of Kerouac in the true cross-country road trip.  Kerouac saw the road as a spiritual journey, whether you are 300 miles into the middle of cornfields or in the heart of Chicago, it is a journey which changes you if you are willing to be conscious of it.

There is no getting away from it, it is always there.  Those cornfields go on for miles.  Those people work to feed hundreds of people.  Those roads are vacant with the occasional semi screaming through at 85 MPH.  The vistas of wind carved stone are populated with cows and rattlesnakes.  The world is always there – vast, living, growing, dying – whether you are there or not.

Consider that vastness.  It should make you feel small.  Then the vastness is in you. You are as much a part of that vastness as the dust, the windmills, the mountains.

Before you consider leaving the country you live in, take a moment to consider if you really know it or just your little corner of it.  Then, go out and journey.

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  • Some places get inside of us, become part of our souls and stay there. We will never know if a plains landscape caputres our imagination if we haven't stood at the edge of a cracked, two-lane highway and gazed across it. I'm glad you're on this journey, even if it occassionally make me homesick.

  • CathD

    What a great trip you've done! And I totally identify with your feelings about Nebraska. I felt much the same way traveling through Utah - the vastness, emptiness, dryness, toughness and ruggedness or the terrain is amazing! And it was so great meeting you in Denver, Carl! Look forward to hearing about your future adventures :)

    Cath

  • My favorite part of traveling around the US is staying in really small towns and taking it all in. It amazes me every time that, no matter how big the gulf between myself and the locals culturally (not having running water is a biggy), there are always such genuine and friendly people in each and every town, and in a lot of cases, I could see them living in any of the big cities I've been to without too much trouble.

    Really makes you think about all of these arbitrary borders and invisible lines we've created on the map and how they don't really amount to much in reality.

  • A trip around the US is definitely on my to do list. I left the US wanting a huge cultural shift and have gotten a little taste since traveling around most of Australia, but India and southeast asia are next. "The world is always there- vast, living, growing dying"...i love this! We need to learn how to partake more. I will definitely be back to explore the home land soon. I found as soon as I planned my first trip I finally woke up to the wonderful city around me. Seeing the most of it before embarking on another continent. All we can do in life is try to stay as present as possible in order to soak in all that surrounds us. Life is always there for the taking. ;D

  • Just by looking at that map I can't grasp the scale of your trip at all. The comparison to Europe does help a bit but still it's just to big. The internal journey is equally huge I imagine.

    Somehow the way you describe things makes me think of "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance". Miles upon miles of the same thing and yet it all has it's uniqute beauty you can only fully appreciate by really going there. I havn't been there (yet) but I can fully imagine feeling so very small while out there.

    There is a huge world right under our feet yet we hardly ever take the time to realize it, we just stay in our small comfort zone. Indeed, go out and journey.

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