Posted by Angie Luvara, ATLANTA, GA -- It’s nothing for me to jump in my little Honda Civic and drive six hours for something completely random—a concert with an artist I’ve been wanting to see, a long-distance friend’s housewarming party, or a football game that my brother or father is coaching. I recently drove to New York City (from Atlanta). Everyone I talked with naturally assumed I was flying, and expressed shock when I revealed that I was road tripping it.
Many people prefer the road to the sky because they are afraid of flying, but that’s not the case with me. I actually don’t fear flying at all. But I do mind flying because I find myself constantly looking out the window trying to figure out what I’m missing below. Sure, there is a certain convenience to being able to fall asleep in San Francisco and wake up in Washington, D.C. after a brief nap. However, the nosy child in me is forever wondering what I’m missing out on by being ten thousand feet above all the interesting places below.
This summer, I drove across the country with a friend as she moved to Seattle from North Carolina. When I tell others about the trip, a common response is “Wow! You are such a good friend!” This response always catches me off guard. I didn’t think of myself as being a “good friend” by doing it, I saw my friend presenting me with an awesome opportunity! Had she decided to fly to Seattle instead, we never would have seen how substantial wind energy use has become (or how GIGANTIC those windmills are in person). We never would have learned that the Badlands are not solid rock as they appear to be in pictures— in fact they’re really thick mud. We also never would have known that Mitchell, South Dakota has a “Corn Palace” decorated by local artists in different styles every year, or that Emblem, Wyoming has a population of 10 (and a Post Office!).
Had we been on a plane, we would have passed right over freeways that have unnamed exits onto dirt roads, signs that warn you the next exit with bathrooms and gas stations are over sixty miles away, and whole portions of interstates that close in the winter due to snow levels that would baffle even this native West Virginian. We would have missed a heap of elk antlers piled high in someone’s front yard. I personally never would have known that animal skulls make acceptable gas station décor in Idaho. But perhaps most importantly, if we were high in the sky, we would have been too close to it to see just how BIG the “Big Sky Country” is out west. I never would have been able to say that I stuck my head out of a sunroof while my friend drove seventy miles an hour just to take a photo of the amazing clouds in that sky. I also never would have had to spend the next hour untangling all of my hair.
Thinking about all these things I would have missed on a plane is exactly why, when we made it to Seattle, I begrudgingly made my way to the airport to fly back home—wishing I could continue the journey the way we started: on the road.
Angie Luvara is a photographer and Managing Editor of Social Shutter. She is also a Doctoral student in Sociology at Georgia State University. To view more of her photography, go to her blog at http://www.LuvisMyAmmo.com/blog.