Saturday, August 21, 2010

Thanks Ike!

On the morning of July 31 my wife, son and I pulled out of our driveway. The trip odometer read zero. When we pulled back into our driveway on Thursday, Aug. 19 it read 3466. During that interval we drove through eleven states and the District of Columbia. We crossed rivers, swamps, and mountain ranges. It's easy to take for granted, but the interstate highway system is a marvel. It may be showing signs of wear and tear, but this 1950s-era brainchild of Dwight Eisenhower continues to pay huge dividends.

Like the information superhighway the automobile superhighway was originally conceived with national security in mind (the internet was originally a military communications network called the ARPANET). With the very real prospect of the cold war turning hot, Eisenhower and the Pentagon wanted a way to quickly move troops and equipment across the continent. Thankfully that scenario never played out. Instead, the interstate highway system has been an engine of economic growth and the means for average Americans to travel long distances in relative ease and safety.

Judging from the number of minivans we saw the family road trip is making a comeback. Who needs the hassles and unpleasantness of present-day air travel? If you have the time I recommend packing up the family car and hitting the open road. Ike's highways are still the best way to see America.

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