Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Driving the US

One thing I thought a lot about near the end of the trip around the US was how different Americas are depending on their region. It shows up in all different ways. And I’m sure I’m not an expert in this. I would have had to spend more concentrated energy on Specific observations if I were to make a more accurate analysis of the whole topic.

One area that leaps to mind if how people drive and car culture in general. In Minnesota we are somewhat polite – at least in certain ways. We are pretty mindful of cars merging and will slow down main highway traffic trying to let someone in. It’s not like that on the east coast or just about anywhere else. We did a concert in Pontiac, Michigan. Just the name tells you cars are important there. I think someone told us that a lot of people are car owners, like more cars per capita than other places in the US. I should check that out.

We did learn about making left turns there. Most roads of any size require you to go straight through the intersection you want to go left at and then do a U-turn so you can make a right at the intersection. Crazy, huh? It’s called a Michigan left and it’s considered safer than a normal left turn.

New Yorkers, of course are often carless. At least those in Manhattan. Most of the team stayed in the City proper and therefore with families that don’t own vehicles. I stayed in Queens with a friend I hadn’t seen in years so we had a place to part the van and trailer. Not sure what we would have done without here.

Now don’t get me going about LA. The 4 or 5 or 6 lane freeways weren’t as overwhelming as we thought they’d be, maybe because we were so used to all the freeway driving. But also because we didn’t tackle them during rush hour.

I recently watched the movie LA Story, Steve Martin visits a neighbor two doors down and has to drive there. That kind of driving culture might be true, but I can’t say I saw it firsthand. I did stay 4 streets over from where the group met and I walked it several times. I noted the only others on foot were walking their dogs.

I will think up more, but this entry got long so I’ll stop there.

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