the periphery

Posted by matthew abbott on


road trip photo
* image by @samfiles

by matt abbott

We are made to move. Designed to roam toward the wonder of new and unknown spaces.

In my opinion, when its time to travel there is nothing quite like the feeling of a freshly packed vehicle, a full tank of gas, and the limitless wonder and excitement of what memories lay down the path of the open road. However, there has been a change in the beloved roadtrip over the past several years. An unfortunate shift brought upon us by our ever-growing dependence of technological “convenience.”

I am sad to say that this change has happened to one of my favorite components of the roadtrip: the map. Now, I’m not referring to a downloaded app that pops up on the few square inches of a computer screen you hold in the palm of your hand. I’m referring to the oversized, worn out, ripped edged, coffee stained, collection of printed lines, dots, dashes, and contours that all come together to make up a representation of the landscape you are about to enter: the paper map, or in book form the atlas.

There is a sense of expanse that an actual paper map provides that cannot be compressed onto the shiny faces of our digitized devices. The feeling of unfolding the map and slowly sliding your finger across the paper until you find your route cannot be replaced by a synthetic voice instructing you to turn left in 300 feet. The vast scope of the paper map does not hide those "just off the beaten path" spaces that could and should easily become a part of your journey.

Opening up the atlas to guide you on your travels allows for the backroads and scenic byways to potentially stitch themselves into the fabric of your experience. Maps and atlases give life to these hidden gems and at the least create a small window for them to be a part of your trip's memory.  

There is a uniqueness that can be found in the periphery. A uniqueness that cannot be found at 75mph on the quickest route from point A to point B. A uniqueness that can be as memorable to your journey as the destination itself. My journey is not a "stay inside the lines" experience. It is not a "follow the digital directions to shave 10 minutes off the drive" excursion. My journey is a twisting, winding, back-tracking, get lost type of adventure. An adventure that can only be found in the periphery and I would not have it any other way.

road trip on a dirt road by tristan stalbaum

* image by @t.stal

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