Take the highway to the Great Divide

"And it made most people nervous. They just didn't want to know what I was seeing in the refuge of the roads" -Joni Mitchell

Interstates get bad press. While two lane county roads that are barely paved get romaticized, the backbone of the US highway system gets called sterile, boring, and- worst of all- unadventurous. Ok, you never will suddenly discover the best pecan pie you ever ate in your life at a travel plaza; the best thing you can get is the Worlds Largest McDonalds on I-44. Yet somehow the people who make those claims miss the larger point.

While for a short drive, a US or state route is much more likely to be interesting, 600 miles of small towns that generate their money through speed traps gets old. Megahauls of 1000-2000 miles would just not be practical on backroads. Some of my greatest travel adventures (e.g. driving from Las Cruces, NM to Glens Falls, NY and back to see a concert or deciding that I could make it from Las Cruces to Baltimore without stopping for the night) would not be possible without the Interstates.

The 2000 mile road trip is an art form in itself. Major cities become transformed from destinations to interchangable masses of tall buildings and spur routes. Spokane gets known for having a Flying J travel plaza or Phoenix is the last obstacle before I-8 and the rest stops that allow overnight parking. The oddness of the entire idea of government never is as clear as when you cross county lines in the middle of nowhere.

While I currently am anchored in Seattle, I have not forgotten the call of the road. Once again I will spend weeks plotting the perfect route, will make sure to have the perfect travel music, and will once again explore the mysteries of the open road. However, like a Dead Head between tours, the best I can do right now is to study the roads themselves. Perhaps examining them in great detail will cause some of the freedom to rub off on my everyday life. More likely, I'm just being a road geek. In any case, here's my guide to the best damn highway system in the world. To the Interstate Highway system, long may it reign.

"Bringing me down, I'm running aground. Blind in the lights of the Interstate cars." -John Barlow

Introductory matters concluded with, some options are now presented. Take the road less travelled at your own risk.

Some basic knowledge of the structure of the Interstate system is the least you should come away with from this page. If you don't know the rules of the system, how can you complain when they are broken? Speaking of breaking rules, Ron Newman's guide to the violations of the numbering system details what happens when a nice set of rules has to deal with geography and generations of different planners.

As I said above, a large part of the appeal of the Interstate Highway system to me is in the fact that it makes it easier to make long road trips. The Ode to Roadtrips page, lets you know how to roadtrip the ZZYZX way.

Now the meat of the guide here is the listing of all of the 2 digit interstates. Wondering what cities I-78 goes through? Want to find out which interstate ends in a park and ride? The information is all there, or will be when the page is finished. Contained there also are thoughts about some of the drives. Favourite rest stops, cool tourist traps, bad stretches, and comments from my fellow road warriors are available to peruse. Any comments you would like me to consider adding will be happily considered. Send them to zzyzx@ihoz.com

Note: unless otherwise said, I will assume that it would be acceptable to place relevant email on the appropriate pages.

"You'd better study your road-maps very well" -Peter Himmelman

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