June 5, 2018

Through The Windshield

Celebrating the driving fun.

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. I push my leg and the car moves. I move my arm, and the vehicle follows. If I take care of the ride, it's not going to contradict me. Instead, it becomes a good friend for sharing the journey. 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.

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, but 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:


Besides all the natural wonders surrounding the road, I also enjoy engineering features that make the road itself. Bridges, for instance, are cool:

This one is in Arkansas.

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 results 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 often makes taking public transport, walking, or cycling so unattractive that understandably, many won't bother. Then, the roads are full of cars, killing the overall driving experience. On the other hand, many cities in Europe have developed networks of alternative transport, and so in most cases, one can avoid all the boring or stressful drives simply by not using a car.

Buses, trams, cycling paths... the better and more diverse the transportation infrastructure equals less congested streets.

Eliminating the need of using a car to get groceries, commute, or do errands means that when I drive in Europe, it is likely only to experience these remote roads carved through stunning environments. And when I get stuck in traffic here, it usually looks like this:

A traffic jam that I don't mind.

The photo above is from the Scottish Highlands, which is another driving heaven:

Some of the Highlands' main roads are fantastic..

..but, like in Colorado, my favorites are those less traveled.

Singletrack backroads are then a category in itself.

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

Such as this pass in Jizera Mts.

...regardless of the season.

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 travel. Thanks for reading!

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Collections, Essays


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