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Road Trippin’

February 4, 2012

I’ve noticed a funny thing since I’ve returned to the East Coast, which is that I’m driving more than I was in Vegas. If it seems strange to you, then join the club, because it seems strange to me as well.

Granted, Vegas isn’t a very big town, but you would kind of think that with everything around it – LA, southern Utah, Death Valley, etc., that I would have been busy racking up the miles heading off to interesting places. And I did, on occasion.

There were some drawbacks to driving in and around Vegas, however. First of all, because the city is in the middle of the desert, everything feels very away. That’s partly because many things are, in fact, very far away, but also because of the fact that driving through the desert is kind of boring. Sure, it can be beautiful at times, but mostly, it’s just a lot of sand, dirt, and scrub brush, with an occasional mountain in the background. Even if you’re heading somewhere close by, the barren landscape makes it feel like you’re on the road forever.

Speaking of the roads, they’re basically flat and dead straight. This is great for travelling quickly, which I appreciated, but doesn’t do much to hold your interest while you’re behind the wheel. Things can get boring pretty quickly when you’re cruising on the 15 from Vegas to, well, anywhere.

Back here in the Northeast, things are much different. First, unlike Vegas, there are many more interesting places to drive to that are much closer in proximity. This makes taking a quick afternoon drive more likely since you can easily get to your destination and back without feeling like you’re wasting a whole day. What’s more, there are plenty of towns on your way from one place to another, which makes it feel like you’re covering much more ground than when you’re driving through open desert.

Couple the higher population with the fact that there are many more interesting things to look at (trees, lakes, etc.) from the highway, and getting in the car is suddenly a more pleasurable experience. Also pleasurable are the roads. Sure, they’re pot-holed and rough unlike the nearly pristine pavement you’ll find out west, but they make up for their shoddy condition by being narrow, curving, and generally more entertaining to drive than anything you’ll find in the Vegas area. In short, they’re fun, and that makes a huge difference.

With this in mind, I’m looking forward to my 3-hour trek up to Boston today much more than I normally looked forward to a similar 4-hour ride from Vegas to LA. Where I would normally find myself fighting boredom through much of the haul across the desert, I know the constantly changing scenery and quickly passing towns will easily hold my interest on my drive north.

The only thing that would make the trip better? My sadly departed BMW.

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