Recently, my wife (Amanda) and I had an awesome weekend logging 880 miles on our motorcycle. I had so many thoughts and reactions to our first true long trip on the bike. One major reaction I had, after spending several hours traveling from Pittsburgh to Richmond to DC and back using almost entirely back roads: if I have the time to do it, it’s by far my preferred method of travel. (Editor’s update: more than two years after first writing this page, that sentence is more true now than it was then. The experiences I’ve had and the beautiful montages we’ve witnessed have only served to reinforce this belief)
While in Richmond, I was trying to explain to my parents why I so dramatically preferred taking back roads, especially on the motorcycle. At the time, I was struggling to put it into words. As we were riding home, I came to realize why I preferred it so much (aside from safety & traffic reasons) – we have the opportunity to truly experience America.
Go ahead and make fun if you like, but it’s really true. What you are seeing is not the cookie cutter McDonalds version of America that you experience when driving 75mph down the interstate. What you see is the real America – at least, a slice of it – while riding 40-60mph along back roads and the old interstate system – Routes 30, 40, 50, 250, 66 etc etc. People own property, live and work along these roads. Instead of skirting alongside the outside of town, these roads cut right through them. You get a feel for the place. The road plays host to a lot of the cheesy Americana stuff your parents experienced in the 50s, 60s, and 70s while travelling. You get to see and experience things, and meet people, that you otherwise never would.
This spawned an idea. I was reflecting on the whole experience, talking with Amanda about it while we ride. Taking the motorcycle and riding on these back roads has dramatically altered my thought process on how I travel. While I used to look at the trip to and from my destination as basically a hurdle to the beginning of my vacation, something that I wanted to be over as quickly as possible, the journey itself is now as much a part of the entire experience as the vacation I’m heading to. This thought chain ultimately ended up with the idea to start a blog. A place for people to share experiences, pictures, suggestions, and thoughts. Because I really feel like the majority of Americans just aren’t doing this anymore when they travel – the journey is no longer a part of the vacation experience. It’s now “let’s just get there as quickly as possible, cramming some McDonalds or Subway in and get back on the road” instead of exploring roadside stops and local family restaurants along the way.
Unfortunately, this altered mindset is also visible in the towns and places you pass through – you see a lot of restaurants and businesses that are closed, boarded up, or for sale. Family run operations are going out of business because people just aren’t passing through often enough for them to make a living anymore. This is another goal I have in mind – a way to get the word out to see what we can do to support smaller, more local businesses instead of these massive chains that are killing off American originality. Don’t get me wrong – I eat plenty of Subway or Mickey D’s myself. This is hardly some anti-corporation crusade. In addition, this is not a bikers-only kind of page – this is for EVERYONE – car drivers & bikers. I want to spread the word about the amazing experiences I am having seeing our country for what it truly is in hopes that A) you get out there and check it out yourself, and B) we can all find more amazing places to go see and experience! And, of course, to help keep the places that make America TRULY great up and running. Happy travelling!