Heaven On Wheels

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In an essay celebrating the American two-lane highway, Anne Helen Petersen explains why she finds the above map so beautiful:

Look at all those red lines! Those are the red lines of awesomeness, the red lines that I love. They’re the cross-hatching that fills in the vast “emptiness” between major metropolitan areas. But if you grew up where I did, where I live now, or in any of those substantial white areas, those red lines meant something familiar and, usually, beautiful. They cut through mountain passes, they wrap around bodies of water; there are places where the forest still threatens to take the whole enterprise under. They’re often isolated, usually dangerous, and absolutely my favorite way to travel.

Rural highways are the closest we come to the ways that people a century before us traversed and appreciated the land. The decrease in speed, either in accordance with posted speed limit or because of the truck hauling a horse trailer in front of you, forces you not only to consider the wildflowers of the field, but the towns you pass through on the way to your destination.