Americans travel a lot and we don’t give it much thought. We take our car and go. To work, shopping, visiting or just tooling around. Despite the high cost of gasoline, we are addicted to our personal vehicles. Addicted to having them constantly available. To having good roads, even in the most rural areas.
With all the traveling we do, when does it feel as if we have gone “someplace else?” We don’t feel that way even when we commute 100 miles to work. I used to commute as much as 125 miles each way and there was no sense of taking a journey — except for being tired all the time. It was just going to work, then home. Our nearest mall is a 25 mile drive, but it’s not “somewhere else” either.
Flying anywhere, even a short distance, is genuine travel. A boat trip turns a short trip into a journey.
Passage through another element — air or water — signals the crossing of some kind of mental boundary. Maybe a bridge is enough. Going to New York from Boston is marked by passing over bridges. Going to Cape Cod becomes a journey as you cross the Bourne or Sagamore Bridge to the Cape. Going to Martha’s Vineyard includes a 40 minute ferry ride that feels like a voyage. It was always on the ferry that I could finally relax.
Passage over water. Passage by air. Engaging another element — an element other than earth — automatically changes a drive into a journey. Elemental boundaries.