In today’s fast-paced world of technology, it’s difficult to pay attention to the beauty that abounds. Our current need for speed has developed drive-through windows, HOV lanes, self-ordering and self-checkout kiosks, check-out express lanes, pay at the pumps and ATMs. Work, family, peers, businesses, and the internet all vie for our time, and each one pulls at our spirit. This continuous day-to-day amount of stimulation is enough to make anyone jittery. People are constantly inundated by angst that are possibly an indication of an over accelerated lifestyle. This acceleration makes it difficult to find a way to slow down and escape everyday life and problems.

A brainchild of President Eisenhower’s administration unintentionally added to this face paced way of life. In 1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act authorized the construction of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.

It’s a myth that one out of every five miles of the Interstate Highway System was built straight and flat for aircraft use during times of war. They do, however, assist moving military troops to and from airports, harbors, railroad stations, military installations and assist in evacuating areas threatened by hurricanes.

A good escape from the everyday jitters is to take trips using back roads that run through rural areas. They’re filled with kind people, nostalgia, a contrast with the past, and an often-forgotten way of life. Drivers can slow down, roll down their windows, smell aromas, and see things that can’t be seen from the interstate. They can stop, look around, relax, take pictures, visit, and learn about history. People in a hurry miss lots of beautiful and interesting things.

Some people exclusively travel back roads and often take two days to travel where other people travel in one. They try not to make plans except to reach their destination, and they leave in adequate time to take side trips as they choose.

Even though travel is faster, there are people who hate riding on the interstate because they think it’s more dangerous. There are other people who despise the interstate because they say it’s too boring. Driving on back roads generally goes through small towns with slower speed limits, but lots of people find the sightseeing benefit worth their time. Back roads can make it more difficult to find a good place to eat, but some non-chain family owned restaurants can be a connoisseur’s delight. Restaurants are often selected because of the number of cars in their parking lot, but the real test of good eats is in the tasting.

Some rural areas are affected by traffic slowdowns because of Sunday type drivers, farm equipment or animals on the road. Back roads can be curvy and hilly with no shoulder or passing zone and hidden dangers for drivers unfamiliar with the terrain.

More deaths happen on back roads, but that doesn’t make interstate highways trouble free. Interstates are fenced to keep animals at bay, but fences aren’t perfect. While back roads may expose more animals, it’s almost like deer wait patiently for cars to whiz by before trying to cross. Anyone who has ever been a passenger in an automobile has seen their share of grazing animals or road kill.

Today, more than ever, safe driving anywhere is a brain game of epic proportion that requires vigilance for an unexpected need to exercise emergency plans. Intolerant drivers make bad decisions that could require other drivers to take sudden defensive action. It’s difficult to respond to emergencies traveling the speed limit, but it’s near impossible when drivers try to max out their speedometer. Loads of drivers are impatient, and scores are so tired that they don’t know that they’re tired. Lots are in such a hurry that they lose all self-control and make others feel like shooting gallery targets or demolition derby participants.

Drivers can have their jitters or they can see the sights because interstates and back roads offer trade-offs. One is a swifter way to see attractions and the other offers the attractions.

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Charlie Sewell lives in Cherokee County. His book “I’d Rather You Call Me Charlie: Reminiscences Filled With Twists of Devilment, Devotion and A Little Danger” is available on Amazon. Email him at retiredchiefsewell@gmail.com.

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