June 5, 2018

Through The Windshield

Celebrating the love for driving.

Ever since I got the license, I have enjoyed driving to new places while being in charge of the directions and time. If there's a chance, I prefer to have the road itself as one of the goals.

It is strangely satisfying. You push your leg, and the car moves. You move your arm, and the vehicle follows. If you take care of it, it's not going to contradict you. It is like your best friend. Long straights offer room to think, while some winding passes require concentration to orchestrate this symphony of motion. In an ideal case, one connects the practical aspect of getting somewhere with meditation-like pleasure, as the mind gets occupied like when I do tight-rope walking. Yes, please!

This is a collection of a few of the memorable roads that I had the pleasure to drive:

The Rocky Mountains, paved..

...and unpaved. Both are fun, this one is better.

Some of the best driving experiences I had in Colorado.

"You and your car.. It is up to you if you will drive or stop; it is up to you whether to take a left or right at the fork. There's nobody to tell you where to go, what to do. But there's also nobody to pull you out of trouble if you get stuck or lost. Your choices; your responsibility. Just you, fresh air, natural beauty, and a strong sense of freedom.."

(From my post about one of the road trips I took there)

But I had fun driving in other US states too:

Kansas

Oklahoma

Driving on these empty roads in the middle of nowhere, where you have the road for yourself, is spectacular. But as one approaches an urban area, the situation can change quickly. While there can be moments when navigating through concrete jungles is neat...

When the traffic flows, it can feel like the roads are like rivers, and you are a drop in it.

...in most cases, having congested roads result in more frustration than joy. The issue with driving is that it is the best when very few do it, so it isn't sustainable in places with a dense population. There will always be someone cutting lanes without using mirrors and signals; some folks race ahead, some take it slowly, and the flow is ruined. The more drivers you add, the worse it gets. Jammed streets filled with noise and pollution, poor views = no fun.

The dark side of roads in Colorado: Not much driving is to be done in these conditions.

I prefer urban areas where people drive by choice, not by necessity. Sadly, in that respect, the US cities are doing rather poorly. Their design causes it difficult to establish any decent public transport and friendly infrastructure for walking or cycling to a point that any other way than by a car is so unattractive that understandably, many won't bother. On the other hand, many cities in Europe have developed networks of alternative transport.

Buses, trams, cycling paths... the better the public transportation is, the less congested the streets become.

It isn't that European cities wouldn't have traffic problems; they do. But in most cases, one can avoid them by simply not using a car. Eliminating all the boring or stressful drives to get groceries, commute, or do errands means that the only time I will use the car is to head to these remote roads carved through stunning environments. That said, I found the overall driving experience in Europe superior to the one in the US because when I get stuck in traffic there, it usually looks like this:

The photo above is from the Scottish Highlands, where I had a blast driving:

Some of the Highlands' main roads are fantastic..

..but, like in Colorado, my favorite are those less travelled.

Singletrack backroads are then a category in itself.

Like in the US, many roads across European mountains bring smiles.

Such as this pass in Jizera Mts.

...regardless of the season.


Besides all the natural wonders, I also enjoy the engineering that made the roads possible.

Bridges, for instance, are cool. This one is in Arkansas

..but sometimes, when a bridge is nowhere in sight, an adventure is certain.

No matter the region, driving has a place in my heart.


If you also like driving, you might enjoy stories about my road trips or other topics related to travels. Thanks for reading!

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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Collections, Essays

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