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The Roads Less Traveled

January 23, 2011
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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve recently been thinking about what it is that’s beautiful that I look for when traveling. Just yesterday in an effort to break the winter blues I jumped in my car and drove into the back roads of Upstate and Western New York. I have recently realized that so much of what brings me excitement and draws the spirit of adventure from within me, is found in my desire to go look for what is not commonly sought after. I have started to recognize that one of the greatest challenges of living life is that often we travel through it at such a blindly fast pace that we miss the very essence and character of what’s around us.

We travel our lives on a highway always thinking about how many miles are left until we arrive at Point B after departing from Point A. It is my belief that something tragic happens in this process, we forget the very concept of what it is to be on the journey itself, we lend ourselves to the disposition that all is predictable because we’ve seen it before. Our “journies” become so planned and predetermined that there’s no need to anticipate any added value, perhaps simply the unexpected nature of being delayed or stuck in traffic.

Recently I have found a real desire to really know and understand my environment and surroundings. When I’ve set out to travel I’ve made it a real purpose to explore and find the roads less traveled, to pay attention to the smallest details of how the area around me has been formed and organized over time and to find those local people, businesses, and places that uniquely represent the communities in which they reside.  It’s the reminders of the communities that existed in these small towns and places that brings me great fulfillment. Sometimes it’s the simplest details, an old church that’s stood through the years, an old homestead, an old farm and the wide-open spaces that accompany them. Sometimes it’s just the fact that I’m forced to slow down as I travel through these small towns, in a way these places demand that you do, and it seems so appropriate that a place that has existed for so long deserves the tribute of at least lending my close attention.

My favoritve photo from the trip

My travels reflected

I have begun to realize just how much these roads less traveled are a greater form of expression and how these small  towns reflect community. They are cohesive and collective and their unification speaks loudly in the fragmented and busy world around them.

As I traveled through towns such as Rush, Mumford, Caledonia, LeRoy, Batavia, Williamsville, Lockport, and Olcott ,I began to feel more connected to the communities around me. These sometimes forgotten places had to power to remind me that character and community are worth finding no matter how far the distance traveled.

Now I carry the beauty of these places forward, and I am realizing that in doing so, the destination is becoming less important.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2011 3:17 pm

    Great photos of your road trip. I wrote about one recently to Ajo. The topic of placemaking is an important one and I like that you are discussing it here. It’s about our shared human experience. I think you’ve highlighted some of the important elements; the natural beauty, the architecture but it has to be about cultural experience as well.

  2. February 28, 2011 6:08 am

    Thank you Tammy, great hearing from you again! Very true regarding the aspect of culture, I actually find it to be one of the most difficult things to find in Upstate New York this time of year. Everything is very cold and isolated and often just fighting the cabin fever feeling makes you anxious! I determined early on this winter that I would not let the snow, cold, or darkness or the North East stop me from exploring! So often I arrive in small new towns hoping for some chance to experience them but often they are so small they don’t have a place to engage in community and culture. It’s my hope to find ways to engage this and to help small towns across America to really create place-making communities! Thank you for your thoughts!

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