I’m not a fan of the U.S. Interstate System. I do realise that it is supposedly an ingenious invention, for with the construction of these vast concrete mega roadways that ribbon across our country, we are now able to go almost anywhere we like in a fraction of the time. For most people, I’m sure that is a wondrous thing. I, on the other hand, mourn for the days when the words “road trip” meant more than just climbing into your vehicle and hitting the interstate; only seeing the road and other fellow interstaters. It meant a weeks worth of driving, and seeing what there was to see between points A and B. Things like a small town with it’s diners and two screen movie theatres…or better yet, a drive in. Or some rinky dink museum of sorts which boasts the world’s only rock that looks like Abraham Lincoln as its main attraction, or even a quaint little hotel in an even quainter town which claims that George Washington slept there. You know the places: the ones off the now beaten path that no one seems to happen upon anymore because we’re far too interested in getting to point B as quickly as possible. Gone are the days of Route 66 and the enjoyment in the getting there. They have been replaced by I-80 (or I-90, or I-5…) and our penchant toward instant gratification. It really is a very sad thing, and a direct result of our “fast food” culture, where what we want, we need now.
Unfortunately, when one does travel in this inordinately large country of ours, you almost have no choice but to utilse the Interstate System. As much as I abhor the whole mentality behind it, I too would prefer to get to point B in a speedy manner. Now, for me, it means 6 hours to New Hampshire with 11 fidgety and quite often surly children in the back of the van, as opposed to possibly 10 or more hours to New Hampshire with 11 excessively restless, angry, screaming children in the back of the van. So while my choice to go against my better judgment may seem hypocritical, my reasoning why is hopefully understandable. It is this reasoning that puts me in Vermont, on I-89 south as I write.
Usually, I find interstates to be very ugly and even gaudy with their overabundance of far too bright billboards. But this is not the case on the Vermont portion of I-89. Here, the interstate runs gracefully through the Green Mountains. They are all around you as you drive, rising up majestically wherever you look. From time to time, you might see a sleepy village, with a few roof tops or a church steeple poking up through the foresty carpet which seems to go on endlessly along the never ceasing mountainous terrain. . You pass over valleys with magnificent rivers running through them…with names like the Black River, the White River, the Winooski River, and the Lamoille River. You drive past meadows teaming with wildflowers, and wonder if you’re really going to see a bear or moose when you see the sign indicating that one should be watching for them for the next 3 miles or so. The views are breathtakingly beautiful and absolutely make the travel along the interstate much more bearable. It also doesn’t hurt that each and every rest stop has the ultimate in hospitality: a free cup of Green Mountain Coffee waits for each weary traveler in need of a pick me up. This in of itself would almost be enough for me to actually like this leg of the trip…almost, but not quite. I do love those views.
One of these days, before I leave these shores in favour of those of the “Emerald” kind, I will forgo this road and take my time on the one now less traveled. I’ll allow myself to take in the sights and sounds of each small town I find myself in, and finally see things at a leisurely pace rather than at a blur. But for now, as I travel New Hampshire bound, I will be grateful for the beauty around me…and for that cup of delicious coffee…even on this road far too traveled.