WOODY BASSETT: On the road again

Trips by car something special in U.S.

Take a long road trip. You won't forget what you saw, where you saw it and how it made you feel. Destinations matter, of course, but what counts the most is the journey itself. The American road trip is an end in itself, with the real joy found in its spontaneity and unpredictability.

Travel begins with dreams and inspirations of where you'd like to go. Road trips have an almost universal appeal and can fulfill some of those dreams. Our highways and byways provide an ideal and thought-provoking way in which to explore the United States.

We are a country without roadblocks. At their heart, road trips are about escaping restrictions. They are also about the towns and interesting places you stop to enjoy as well as the gawk-rich scenery along the way. Each person will experience the road differently but motoring around America allows us to learn about our country and ourselves. You will engage with people you've never met before who are friendly and interesting, and come from every walk of life and from places all over the world.

Hopping in your vehicle for a multi-day road trip is unlike heading to the airport to fly somewhere, largely because the car represents freedom and mobility, giving the occupants a sense of control over their destiny and destination. Fueled by curiosity and the notion of adventure, one out of four Americans get behind the wheel each year to take a road trip across a part of the United States.

We live in a vast and beautiful country. From border to border and from coast to coast, there is much for the eye to perceive and the mind and soul to absorb. Drawn by the allure of seeing the country up close, road-trippers find the open road to be liberating, with endless chances to experience all that America has to offer.

Every route is different; every state is unique. As the horizon unfurls, one wonders what's over the next hill or around the next curve. You can't be sure what awaits. Some roads are even destinations unto themselves, jaw-dropping on their own, leaving you constantly pulling over to drink in your surroundings and take photos. Many routes through America offer unique and sometimes once-in-a lifetime opportunities for seeing magnificent natural beauty, remarkable terrain and memorable landmarks.

It's enlightening to drive around the country, getting to better know its places, history and people. While basic ideas and core principles resonate across the land, each region of the country has its own identity, with its own distinctive geography, food and culture. Roaming from region to region will take you through a myriad of landscapes and introduce you to different attitudes on life, showing you what a diverse country we live in. Road-trippers gain a deeper appreciation for our country's diversity and a more informed understanding of what everyday life is like for those who live in other parts of the nation. Every place is different yet you still realize how much we have in common, no matter where we reside.

We often think of the United States as a country of big cities and suburbs and an agrarian middle with farms and fields stretching everywhere. But the majority of America is small, rural towns and empty or sparsely-populated countryside. Though containing only 19% of the nation's total population, 95% of the land in the Unites States is classified as rural. When you drive out of a city, you rapidly shift to small towns and wide-open spaces. Some call it "flyover country" but if you never drive through it, you'll never know how much you are missing.

The road will take you to places where you can relish the peacefulness and serenity to be found in the awesomeness of nature. God's handiwork is everywhere: mountains, forests, deserts, beaches, oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, waterfalls, hiking trails, sunrises, sunsets, night skies and so much more. Never pass up a chance to visit one of our National Parks, which are second to none and still "America's Best Idea."

In a time when there's so much angst and the country so divided, you can temporarily escape from that while road-tripping. Out on the road, none of that is on your mind. All that matters is making memories and making the most out of each day on your journey.

Leaving your hometown's city limits won't erase your problems or worries in life but a road trip will help put your concerns in perspective and often boost your state of mind.

A road trip is a gift to be enjoyed but the greatest gift of all is coming home when it's over, returning to the place you love the most and the place you want to live.

Commentary on 08/15/2019

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