Monday, August 15, 2005

You Can Get To There From Here

The East Coast has had a "hella" long time to grow. What do you get when you mix fertile soil, a non-desert like climate, and 500+ years of American sweet lovin'? Cities and Towns, Everywhere!

When you drive east from San Francisco on I-80, you hit Oakland, then Berkeley, Berkeley-lite, then hella-nothing, then Vacaville. Notice how the city's web page makes the place look like some kind of paradise. It looks like a Windows XP commercial, or a Prozac ad! This is what it really looks like. Absence has not yet made my heart fondly reminiscent of those arid, redneck road-stops.

When you drive in any direction from Boston, you get to something. OK, it's probably a boring bedroom community which looks identical to every other boring bedroom community in the state, but it has a name! And this is where the executive bankers and their children live! And it probably has lattes! Hooray for yuppie civilization! I used Google to map out identically scaled swatches of land centering around San Francisco and Boston, respectively. Have a look at the difference:

The Boston area is a overflowing with cities and towns. They can't fit them all on the map.

San Francisco, on the other hand, has few enough neighboring towns and cities to practically count on two hands.

Now, to be fair, I notice that the San Francisco map is missing some gems like Daly City. I mean, you get Daly City. If you drive anywhere from the Boston area, you might go through podunk nowheresville, but before too long you're likely to be coming up on the outskirts of a city. A real city. Not a Daly city! Well, at least a large town - and maybe Jack Kerouac is buried there.

In California there are historical points of interest even in the middle of nowheresville. You may be amused to stop and learn that Benicia was once the state's capitol, for instance. Or you may recoil in awe at the unbelievable oldness of something that was built in the late 1800's.

In New England they also have this habit, but instead of learning things like "John Muir slept here," you learn things like "Washington died here," or "this is where the first American flag was erected," or "hella revolutionary war blood right where you're standing." In New England, things from the 1800's are hardly vintage, let alone antique. They've got bulldozers that are older than California, for chrissake! The towns are all in the habit of putting the date of incorporation on their "welcome" signs. I've learned quickly that if you're any newer than the 1600's, you're a full-on New-England-Newbie, and you should get the hell out.

The truth is, though I'm trying to talk myself into believing that Boston is better for driving to fun and exciting places, it's only partly true. I can find plenty of boring-ass depressing destinations in the Boston area. You can make wherever you live into an exciting day-trip locale.

So, in the spirit of encouraging us all to explore our surroundings, I'm going to play a little un-scientific game where I pick at random 3 spots from each of the maps I linked to above. I will close my eyes, move the mouse around a lot, then double-click to center the map on some spot. Then I will zoom in as far as google will go, and look for the closest "town or landmark" name. I will then type that name in to google images, and paste the most intriguing photo of the area that comes up:

Boston, You Can Get To There From Here:


Those are: Dracut, MA - Harvard, MA - Bellingham, MA.

San Francisco, You Can Get To There From Here:


Those are: Vallejo, CA - Union City, CA - Sugarloaf Park, Walnut Creek, CA

Have a nice trip!