Modes of Transportation (2)
Factoring out flying in planning my trip means I'll be using a land based mode of transportation. Driving would be the most obvious way to get around. But why go for the obvious? Why do things the easy way?
I'm not necessarily opposed to driving for long trips. I can see its necessity, and have taken my share of long driving roadtrips (and will be sure to do so in the future). But there are many reasons why I don't plan my trips around cars:
1) Environmental concerns. Single-occupancy vehicles are the biggest source of pollution in the world, and even if you put 2-5 people in the car, it's not going to be as efficient as something that can hold lots more people. Beyond this is the insidious destruction of the world caused by car culture--all the roads, parking lots, and communities built around such a vehicle. I'd like to be as separated from this as possible. Yes, you can lecture me on how those roads and vehicles provide the food on my table, the clothes on my back, etc etc. I know. I know I won't be able to live "pure" in this modern world, but I'm trying to do the best I can.
2) The Interstate Highway System. As Charles Kuralt once said, "Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything." In other words, the interstates are boring. Built to move large quantities of cars at the fastest speed possible, the Interstate foregoes scenery for straight-line efficiency. Sure, you'll get beautiful views on I-80 through the Sierras, I-84 in the Columbia Gorge, I-90 through the Cascades, etc, but in those places the scenery overpowers no matter what. Most of the time you'll see crappy big box stores and fast food outlets. Add to that the destructive nature of highway building in cities, destroying whole neighborhoods and permanently dividing others, and you've got quite a beast on your hands.
3) Dealing with your tripmates. Being confined in a small space for long periods of time with people you normally get along with is a sure recipe for disaster. The first car trip across the country I went on led to animosity amongst everyone by the time we got to Cali, and after the trip I didn't speak to a couple people for quite some time. And you'll never figure out where to eat.
4) I don't own a car.
There are pros to using cars for trips. You can stop whenever and wherever you want, and make as many side trips as you'd like. In certain circumstances long car trips can even be fun. But for now the car trips I'll take will be short ones.