A few years ago, my wife and I decided to drive to our vacation destinations rather than fly. One of the key reasons was to see the many complexities of the country we live in … that we don’t see when flying over the fields and towns. We now often take the roads less traveled.
Going from Orlando to Panama City, we recently took US 98 that runs close to the Gulf of Mexico rather than the faster Interstate option. It was a very textured experience. We slowed down for small towns. There were miles of beautiful overhanging trees. The water and sunsets were spectacular.
We also saw the remaining destruction from Category 4/5 Hurricane Michael that struck Panama City and surrounding areas in Oct 2018. The destruction was everywhere. Mixed in the destruction were spots of those who survived or could rebuild. I had forgotten about the disaster – like most people. The disaster was still part of everyday life in that area. The resilience and attitude of the people was uplifting.
A few miles west on the beautiful beaches that stretch for miles were several communities. We enjoyed lunch on Santa Rosa Beach, which is a planned community with a town square that looks like a movie set. In fact, it was.
Director Peter Weir’s 1998 film comedy “The Truman Show” needed a perfect, artificial-appearing town where Jim Carrey’s whole life as Truman would be secretly telecast. Seaside, a planned community, was the main shooting location. We enjoyed the covered Airstream trailers functioning as food options.
We had seen the recently released movie “Just Mercy” about a lawyer, Byran Stevenson fighting for justice on an Alabama prison death row. On our return to Minneapolis, we decided to travel through historic areas in Alabama we had not yet visited. We visited multiple museums and historic locations in Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham.
In the Selma exhibit, you can view through the window the Edmund Pettus Bridge where Martin Luther King and many others took a stand on “Bloody Sunday” in March 1965. It was followed by the 54 mile March to Montgomery, which led to the Civil Rights law.
We have had many additional experiences by traveling back roads. We experienced how we are all much more alike than different. Each of us can change the experience of others by how we treat them. The more we learn to understand others, the more we find we have in common.