Super 8

Okay so a word or two about driving through America and where we sleep at night.
We drove down I95 and then turned right onto I40. These are major interstates. They don’t have the character of the “backroad” experience. But to travel the small roads would take a lot of time that we don’t have. So, instead, we travel these major arteries, green corridors interrupted by rest stops, where we eat our lunches from the cooler, and exits with generic gas stations and convenience stores, reassuringly similar from state to state.
We follow the directions on the iPad GPS, and at the end of each day’s drive, we shoot out of the green corridor onto an exit – and our motel is always right there, visible as we’re rounding the steep curve of the off-ramp.
Each city is so different in character it’s like changing the channel. An abrupt transition, as the long stretches of interstate are identical, with no gradual alterations to the landscape. Then BOOM we land in a new city.
This may change when we enter the plains and desert. Time will tell.
Where do we stay? The first two nights were spent in Motel 6. The second one was so bad we switched to Super 8. Yes, we are on a budget. But, what I’ve realized in the past several days is that this is how America travels. We’ve met such a variety of people from all over the south and Midwest, we’ve driven up and down 8 different Central Avenues, and the character of each place begins to emerge. If we were sequestered in a nice hotel in each city’s center this would be a very different experience. Nice, yes, but removed from some of the gritty glimpses into what happens behind the facade.
So every evening around 5pm we check into the Super 8. It’s always the same room we checked out of this morning. So I’ve started photographing the view from my window each evening. While the space looks the same, the shampoo, towels, bedspreads, soap are the same – “oh, there’s the fridge with the microwave on top of it”; “there’s the nook for the bikes”. But outside is subtly different from one city to the next.
Traveling through America you see the overwhelming homogeneity of the chain stores and the highway system. But these towns are distinct; the vast diversity of our culture is alive and well and living all over the place.

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