Whether you're on a family vacation or just driving back and forth to work each day, if you're a photographer it's fun to find new and interesting things to photograph. One way to do that is to get off of the interstates and drive the "Blue Highways" or back roads. Let's face it, you're never going to find much (other than car bumpers) to photograph on the interstate.
The Blue Highways got their name from old road maps in which all the traditional routes (the pre-highway roads) were colored blue on the map. This is where America used to live and even though many of these roads are lost to history because of the scourge of ugly (and meaningless) strip malls, there are still some roads that remain as they have since the beginning of driving. These roads are treasure troves for a curious photographer and they're disappearing so fast that photographing them is like photographing a vanishing species.
Last year we took a drive from Corpus Christi to Kingsville in south Texas and rather than hop on the interstate and be there in a 40 minutes, we decided to explore a bit and take the local roads down. In south Texas the local roads are flat, wide and empty, so speed limits mean nothing anyway--but they are fascinating. I found myself pulling over every few miles just to photograph the road because it was so flat and empty! Along the way we also found great little shots like this tiny post office in Chapman Ranch, Texas (the woman behind the counter told us to be careful where we stepped--rattlesnakes sometimes came in to get out of the sun). Even in Texas you will never see stuff like this from the highways.
So next time you're heading somewhere and you've got an extra hour on your hands, see if you can't find a Blue Highway route instead of the interstate. You never know what cool subjects you'll come across. Oh, and if you're looking for a great read this winter, go to the library and check out William Least Heat-Moon's fantastic book Blue Highways. If that book doesn't give you driving fever, nothing will--a great read.
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