2,460 miles of blacktop stretching from Santa Monica, CA to Jacksonville, FL.
Known in various places as the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, the Veterans Memorial Highway, the Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway, the Doctor June McCarroll Memorial Freeway, the Pearl Harbor Memorial Highway, the Maricopa Freeway, and more.
Expansive in West Texas. 26 lanes wide in East Texas. Bumpy in Louisiana. Windy in New Mexico. Scenic in Arizona.
In the “serious traveler” crowd, however, I-10 and the rest of America’s Interstates are generally frowned upon:
“Life doesn’t happen along interstates. It’s against the law.” – William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways
“When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.” – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley
“The interstate highway system is a wonderful thing. It makes it possible to go from coast to coast without seeing anything or meeting anybody. If the United States interests you, stay off the interstates.” – Charles Kuralt, A Life on The Road.
“In less than two decades, America’s modern interstate highways drained the life from thousands of towns. No longer was it necessary – and before long not even possible – to partake of the traditional offerings of two-lane America” – Bill Bryson, Made in America
Even here on this blog, we recently posted about getting off the interstates.
While in Florida we realized that I-10’s eastern terminus is in Jacksonville. We were already lining up a St. Augustine visit so with a bit of driving we could catch the last significant piece of I-10 that we had not been on. Notice that I said “significant”.
So we drove it. While doing so I started thinking about all of the events and people that I-10 had brought us to.
And I realized that the travel pundits are wrong.
Life does happen along interstates.
You can see things and people by driving interstates.
And two-lane America? It’s still out there. No, not the same. Not as healthy. But it’s there. And often you’ll take an interstate to get close to it.
As our evidence, here is a list I culled from our blog, in vaguely East to West fashion, of people, sights, and experiences that I-10 brought us to:
- First time feeling “warm” on our first year traveling in Madison FL:
- Visited friends and met the last survivor of the Bataan Death March in Mobile, AL:
- First “Kings Cake” & a visit to the Space Shuttle engine testing facility in Bay St. Louis, MS:
- Finally got to visit New Orleans:
- Saw our first armadillo (dead)
- Met up with friends in Houston
(no specific post)
- Visited San Antonio
- Shopped for Groceries in Kerrville TX while at the farm:
- Saw our first Armadillo (live):
- Swam in a pool fed by natural springs (and came closest to running out of gas):
- First experienced “the west” in New Mexico at Rockhound State Park:
- And at City of Rocks State Park:
- Saw our first Saguaro Cactus south of Tucson, AZ
- Found the spot of the westernmost Civil War battle and visited the Sonoran Desert Museum in the Tucson area:
- Visited the Casa Grande National Monument in AZ:
- Saw our first Roller Derby in Phoenix:
- Camp-hosted at one of our favorite parks in the nation - Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, AZ:
- Had first major medical experience while traveling - MsBoyink getting cataracts removed in Mesa:
- Drove a NASCAR Racecar in Phoenix:
- Saw wild parrots, danced in an Indian Pow-wow, and experienced our first “out of gas” gas station on a trip to Pasadena:
Interstates may not always be the most exciting thing in and of themselves, but they aren’t “teh evul” either.
Here’s to I-10, and how it’s become part and parcel of our own family story.