We’re doing a lot of driving to research this book, and it’s really driven home just how much nicer it can be to tool around on county highways and country roads. There’s just something soulful about seeing where people live, rather than just hurtling at 71 miles per hour down a fast-food studded artery of commerce. In “Travels With Charlie,” John Steinbeck offered his perspective on the coming of the interstates:
These great roads are wonderful for moving goods but not for inspection of a countryside. You are bound to the wheel and your eyes to the car ahead and to the rear-view mirror for the car behind and the side mirror for the car or truck about to pass, and at the same time you must read all the signs for fear you may miss some instructions or orders. No roadside stands selling squash juice, no antique stores, no farm products or factory outlets. When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.