The Road Most Travelled
There was a place in Harriman State Park where I would climb the mountain and upon the top I would look down at the cars whizzing by on the New York State Thruway. From atop the Ramapo Torne the cars looked like ants scurrying around with no particular place to go. I wonder where is everybody going is it work, is to the mall or to grandma's house. I challenge you all to step back and look at the cars and wonder were they go.
Times have changed for me, where I am, I am infrequently inundated by the madness of a car-culture. Living in a town of 8,500 the streets are only flowing with traffic during the middle of the day. Rush hour is actually a mere ½ hour, unlike New York metropolitan area where traffic can exist all hours of the day. I wonder how much of today's problems are caused by tension driving around the asphalt mazes just to get to work.
This past weekend Sarah and I drove to New Jersey. Driving through Vermont is a pleasant relaxing drive. Due to the time frame, we choose the route through Connecticut. This time instead of looking down from a mountain, I came down from the mountain and immersed ourselves in the middle of the mayhem. Cars were weaving and swerving in and out of lanes to get that extra foot closer. Trucks were galloping down the road to get their precious cargo of stuff to the mall. Billboards broadcasted messages of consumption and the endless array of fast food restaurants were shining bright. Oh, America what has happened to your natural beauty. I wish you all can here our conversations about the pleasures and joys of the open road.
Timelessly we crossed the Chimpanzee Bridge (Tappan Zee Bridge) over the Hudson River, with Dar Williams's song "The Hudson" paying homage to its legacy. Ironically, just along the river General Electric had a plant in 1920's designing electric trolleys there. Imagine that in times not far ago business were designing methods of transportation that the world really needs now. Instead, while we crossed the bridge at nine pm, we were stuck to a crawl. I thought of the statistic that the average car will only drive 5mph in it is life time. Shocking that of all the driving we do at higher speeds in actuality it just averages out to 5mph. I guess that is what it means to being going nowhere fast.
We arrived into New Jersey and low and behold upon exiting the highway I had a car honk at me, apparently I was not quick enough for them. So, it reminded of that morning in Montpelier, I was standing out on a corner holding a sign to gain attention for the Lt. Governor candidate, Matt Dunne. The purpose was to give him greater name recognition and to get other supporters excited and honk thier horns in support. A discussion progressed on that Vermonters do not know where thier horns are, so we get a little less response, but in places like NJ horn use is part of drivers-ed.
The madness of the car culture, just keeps brewing. Over the weekend I visited some friends and of course I needed a car. How cute it is to see a three old child playing in his own imaginary world. But then things dawned on me, he was playing with his cars and trucks. Race cars, dump trucks and funny cars sprawled all along the floor. Then he looked at Sarah's car and was thrilled with it, asking questions like what is it? So, here I am looking at a three year old boy and I realized that this whole notion of cars has been ingrained into the heads of the youth. Yes, I do remember the days of my youth, playing with my matchbox cars and it was fun. But here I am in Vermont hoping that we as a populace will look for ways to reduce our uses of fossil fuels and cut back on causes of global warming, but I look and see the propaganda machine installing the love of cars into the mind of a child. Times like this I feel it is hopeless but we must move on and try.
So I continued my visits unfortunately by car, driving by shopping malls galore and at times I can barely see around me because half the vehicles are SUV's. It is shocking that I know live in a place where four-wheel drive vehicles are really needed but in New Jersey the land of asphalt and mild winters, everybody drives a SUV.
So we have come to a juncture where oil prices are high, wars are fought for oil and our planet is warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and the populace continues in it's endless pursuit of toys. This is where I hope that the rest of us will climb that mountain and look down and see. I returned home to Vermont and now hope…
"The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet." Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," 1841