OK, I know they have a purpose; but they really do give traveling a bad name. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig suggests that sanity exists only on the grey lines of the map. His, like every great American road trip, was about getting out of one’s own head, discovering the larger world beyond one’s known and comfortable existence. To my grandparents, the drive was never a means to an end; it was an integral part of the adventure itself. Interstate highways rob drivers of every single joy that once made the activity exciting, reducing the road trip to a soulless, utilitarian endeavor. It’s now entirely devoid of all the magic that made car travel the exhilarating, uniquely American experience it once was.
And now, as if to add insult to injury, the entire roadway infrastructure system, state local and federal, is designed to keep you on the interstates as much as possible. I say just say, “nope…”
I really had little choice but to take I-10 from Breaux Bridge to Slidell. It was unpleasant, stressful… And it took forever. There was an accident in Baton Rouge that caused traffic to come to a complete standstill. Once we did finally start moving, it took over an hour to go five miles. Fondly remembering my drive in southwestern Louisiana, I decided I needed a vacation from I-10. So when it finally started getting hot at the Pearl River campsite, we packed our stuff and headed southeast where we found sanity once again. For hours we leisurely drove the highway 90 route along the Mississippi coast, all the way to
Mobile, Alabama. And it was magical. The speed limit runs between 45 and 55 miles per hour between towns, and the many stop lights actually give a traveler the opportunity to look around. There really is a lot to see, too, which is why that is one of my all-time favorite drives. Dazzling white sand beaches stretch for miles and miles, tiny ribbons sandwiched between inviting gulf waters and stately antebellum-styled mansions, all facing south as if turning their backs on I-10 and its dreary landscape. Sadly, casinos
now blight the once-thriving little shipping towns towns like St. Louis Bay and Biloxi. But the drive is worth it nonetheless, especially as an alternative to that long stretch of misery a few miles to the north.
On the other side of Pascagoula, Boots and I found a little community so small it didn’t even make the map. But it did have a crossroads, a few tiny well-kept homes, and a gas station. It also had a stand of huge 100-year oak trees, all with flat clearings underneath bordering the highway. We tucked Taco up into that precious shade and had a fine lunch of sandwiches, potato chips and Friskies. Then, reluctantly, we were forced back on I-10 through Mobile, Alabama and on into Florida. We ended up stopping at a little campground (free of course) on Cotton Lake in the Florida panhandle. Part of the Escambia River Water Management District, it was very beautiful and quite remote. I could get a 3g cell signal if I walked 75 yards, stood on one foot and stuck a free hand up in the air; but internet speeds were crawling to non-existent. Que
sera sera… More time for reading!
I think we’ll enjoy another quiet night here before heading north. It’s finally supposed to cool off a little which will make the next episode a lot more pleasant.
Viva la Vida Bohemia!