This I Believe

Ashley - Norfolk, Virginia
Entered on May 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Back Roads

For most of us, the highway is the only choice when going more than a few miles away. We have the philosophy that the quicker we get there, the better. I disagree. After watching the cars dart in and out of the several lanes provided I’m either carsick or my palms are sweaty with the intimidation of a panic attack. The thick concrete walls or wide grassy ditches between the two sides seem to eagerly be predicting the way my car could end up on the other side, threatening on-coming traffic. I get tired of seeing the same 4 story high signs for the same chain stores exit after exit and just can’t help but wonder what else I could be watching out the window. Sometimes I’m afraid my young generation is chasing away the simplicity we hear about in era’s past. I want to know that I took the time to see the effortless, natural beauty of our country before it was gone. This is why I believe in taking the back roads.

We have all heard the saying “Getting there is half the adventure” but very few actually take advantage of that anymore. I don’t need the redundant giant green interstate signs or a GPS unit to tell me where I’m going. With my boyfriend controlling the car, I like to control the trip. I take my atlas; pages crumpled and marked, with the front cover detached and make a finger trail from road to road. Sometimes I chose the roads with the most red dots on them (the red dots being the special attractions like the house where Stonewall Jackson died or a dinosaur museum.) Sometimes I chose the roads with a green dotted line by them, indicating a scenic route. Most of the time I just chose the roads getting us furthest from the Targets and Applebee’s and closer to the yard sales and backyard barbeque stands. We drive through tiny, tired towns whose goal it is to stay off the map. We drive along side curious streams and sometimes even get to be there when they find the river. We pull over for fresh fruit at the roadside produce stands. We get back on the road, turn up the music and roll down the back windows to smell the trees. We get so deep in that sometimes we go hours without seeing other cars. We get lost and ask for directions. We try to track our progress but can’t always find the right roads on the maps. I squeal with excitement when we see wild animals. We see things and people we would never had the chance to see. We learn about new places, each other and ourselves. It is these things that I believe make the difference in the kinds of lives we lead, the kinds of people we are. So maybe we won’t get to where we are going as quick or thoughtlessly as we could. We’ll get there when we get there.