#108: Thoughts From The Road 📷
😷 Life, work & what matters (from the road edition)
September 19th, 2020 - Greetings from Boulder, Colorado! Thanks to Stephen L and Stephen W for becoming paid patrons of the newsletter. If you’d like to join them:
This week is a shorter issue of random thoughts from the road. Here is a shot of us camping in a $12 camping spot in the middle of nowhere in Kansas.
We spent the last seven days driving across the US from Connecticut, down to North Carolina, and then west through Tennessee to Colorado.
It may be surprising to some non-US readers that I’ve never really done anything like this. My past trips in the US were usually to vacation in one spot with friends or to visit family. Given how cheap air travel has become it seems that the road trip has lost some allure over the years but with Covid perhaps it will come back in style.
I figured I might jot down a few thoughts I had driving across the US
There is a lot of beauty in the US (Blue Ridge Parkway)
Sometimes its easy to overlook the beauty in your backyard and to look abroad for more exotic site, but I have to admit I was feeling a bit foolish that I had never thought to explore things like driving through the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina or the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.
There are so many Americas (Asheville, NC)
When I am abroad many people ask me general questions such as “what do Americans think about this?” or “How do Americans do this?” Both impossible questions to answer, it is even more stark after this road trip how many different cultures probably exist in the US. Most cities have different immigrant histories and different types of work and industry that emerged in different periods. It was fun to read different histories of the places we drove through and see the wide ranges of class, ethnicity and language in our many pit stops across the country.
I oriented my life more around work in my twenties than I thought (Blue Ridge Parkway)
It’s a bit shocking how little I explored when younger. When I was 30 I took a solo road trip driving up the California coast and it was probably the first time I let wonder creep into my imagination over a week. It’s easy to see how I followed that to living abroad but before becoming self employed I never really thought about a trip of more than seven days let alone without planning everything in advance.
Perhaps its a northeast thing, but I’m glad I’m finally getting around to seeing more of the beauty in the US.
Technology makes it easier than ever to have no plans or to plan almost everything (Bison in Kentucky)
Technology gives you the option of waiting until last minute to book a camping site on Hipcamp or hotel on Hotel Tonight but it also gives you the option to plan and schedule almost every aspect of any trip. Technology makes it hard to avoid planning everything in advance, but it is exciting to wander without plans for the next day.
Kansas City to Boulder is Flat & Empty AF (Somewhere in Kansas)
Hats off to truckers who drive some of the routes across the middle of America every day. From Kansas City to Boulder there is almost no people and nothing to see except vast flatness. It also makes you realize that Matt Yglesias’ proposal for “one billion Americans” isn’t so crazy from a space constraint perspective.
Housing Prices Have No Constellation to Size
It’s interesting explaining to my wife how the size of a house has no correlation to the price you actually have to pay for a house in different parts of the country.
“Wait we can afford a mansion here? What the…”
It also makes me realize how many of the housing issues across the US are either caused by space constraints (Asheville, NC seemed to be a bit somewhat space constrained) or by human driven policies (zoning restrictions in Boulder).
This always makes me think about the fun thought experiment of the Land Value Tax, which Milton Friedman called the “least bad tax.” It seem unfathomable that we could move away from housing a main store of wealth and value for people, but this newsletter is called Boundless, so I’m not going to constrain my dreaming…
Boulder Is A Pretty Amazing Place (Boulder, CO)
I’ve heard great things about Boulder, but I didn’t really understand why until driving into the city. It’s hard to go very long without a stunning view of the mountains surrounding the town. Plus everyone is incredibly friendly. Definitely a potential spot to live and come back to in the future!
Some More Pictures From The Road
A street in Philadelphia
A park in St. Louis
The stars in Kentucky
Empty Nashville Streets
A deer wandering the streets in Boulder
That’s all this week. Thanks for following along!