Life, Liberty, and non-travel stories

A Powerful Way to Improve your Day

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Let’s be honest – commuting sucks. Unless you are one of the growing number of people who “tele-commute,” you are like me and have to drive to and from work on a daily basis.  And, if you’re like I used to be, you hate your commute: it’s typically a long, traffic-choked slog through a steel cage battleground, jousting with all the other miserable folks who hate their commute.  There has to be a better way to commute!

Interstate highway clogged with traffic at nightfall during an evening commute
Traffic clogs the interstate during the evening commute home

Who could enjoy a drive like this twice a day?

That all changed for me in the last couple years.  Part of this is because I changed jobs at the end of 2011; the location of my new job allows me to drive in the opposite direction of most commuters.  But the main reason is that I found it makes my daily mood dramatically better to develop ways to enjoy the drive to and from work.

A Better Commute

Face it: you have to make the drive anyway, so why not find ways to make it enjoyable?

An empty back road weaves through a lush green forest streaked through by the mid-day sun
A far more relaxing sort of commute!

Wouldn’t a drive like this be much better?

What I find especially intriguing is the way people act during the commute home. Think back to your most recent drive home from work – how many other drivers looked happy to you? And…. did you look happy to them?

Were you enjoying the fact that your workday was done, and you were finally free to head home – or were you frustrated and possibly even angry about the fact that you were sitting in traffic, fighting to get ahead and get home as quickly possible?  I know I’ve had my own share of traffic-related meltdowns, the worst of which have involved dangerous games of “lane chicken” and brake-checking people who follow too closely.  At one point, I even had a guy throw an open bottle of Gatorade at me!

How to Commute to Work on Back Roads

I work really hard not to commute this way anymore, especially on my drive home.  I make the drive home as enjoyable as I possibly can. For me, as you might have already guessed, that often includes incorporating back roads into my commute. Back roads are typically far more scenic, are often far less crowded, and for me they offer a chance to decompress and relax from the often-stressful days I had at work.

Back roads provide me with an elongated and scenic Zen moment, communing on the twisting roads with fresh air, trees, and flowers.  Back roads give me a crash course in nature and geography, allowing me to watch the subtle course of the seasons as they progress.  Back roads are especially beautiful in the spring, as plants come back to life after the cold grey winter, and in the fall, when the trees explode with color and bountiful harvests line roadsides with impromptu farm markets.

And, of course, back roads offer plenty of photographic and blog-writing material.

A loaded coal barge churns up the river under a back road bridge on my commute home
A coal barge passes under the Sewickley Bridge west of Pittsburgh PA

I mean, how cool is it that I get to see something like this on an almost daily basis?

Instead of spending time in our cars grumbling about the person who cut us off (much less being the guy who just cut someone else off), I urge you to join me and find a way to make your commute more enjoyable:  It may be books on tape, or finding a great talk show program, an excellent road trip playlist, or exploring the neighborhoods and shops between work and home. Maybe it’s calling and getting caught up with old friends or more distant family members.

And maybe, just maybe…. it’s seeking out new and beautiful back roads to explore and enhance your commute experience.

A twisty back road is lined with color as the initial leaf change of fall starts to occur.
What better way to experience the fall leaf change than on your commute?

The main thing I  know is that I have gone from being a miserable road-warrior to someone who loves his commute. My proof? I came up with the idea for this blog as I slowly made my way through the minimal spots of traffic I do encounter: looking forward to just getting across this bridge or through that red light and on to the beautiful freedom of my favorite back roads.

Editor’s note:  Aside from the traffic nightmare shot at the top, which was provided by co-editor Brian, all of the shots in this blog were taken along a back road route that adds a whopping 10-15 minutes to my drive home.  I look at it this way – would I rather 30 minutes of miserable driving, or 45 minutes of relaxing beauty?  Pretty simple choice, if you ask me.

Want to learn more about how to take back roads when you travel?  Click HERE

Looking for some road trip ideas?  Click HERE or HERE

Want our help with planning your commute?  Or planning your road trip?  Click HERE

 

 

 

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