Happy Monday to everyone! We hope you’re all in good spirits and so on. Today’s post is about perspectives – and how many folks may be taking short rides for granted in NJ these days. Heck, even long rides! So much to see out there!

The more people I speak with – the more I’m realizing this odd trend of people just not wanting to (physically) “explore” their surroundings. Seriously. They want their “routine” and do NOT want to be snapped out of it. This truly seems to be “the norm” in our circles (and observations) at least.

As well as others. When I stumble upon other people with similar mindsets – they share the same revelations. That almost everyone THEY know is also stuck in their ways. Hardly anyone just “goes on a drive” to see what’s out there, or explore their surroundings anymore.

The following song we just love reiterates how we grew up. Just “see what you can find…” The mystery of exploring is next to nonexistent in 2018.

It’s like human curiosity has become a unique trait that not many people possess anymore. Here’s a great video that sort of inspired this editorial post…

Dense cities

One aspect that I think may be a contributing factor are urban environments. You know, “dense cities.”

When you live within a walking town with a concentrated central area (often referred to as a “downtown” area), habits and rituals are very much common. You have the “familiar” places near your dwelling.

Fact: People become “set in their ways.” Not necessarily because of quality or even preference, but rather it is all “easier” and more convenient.

That people become that way is fascinating to us. You know. You’ll use the closest (dry cleaner, Chinese restaurant, gas station, or whatever it may be). Without thinking. Same goes for restaurants, supermarkets, auto mechanics, and most other general needs.

Why are convenience and routine so prevalent? It’s disturbing to us, that that majority of society just wants easy and fast stuff. Like the TRUE reward of hard work and effort has been swiped off the table. Wow!

This lifestyle does not appeal to everyone.

Parking could be an issue and deterrence

Briefly – and depending on where you live or around – that actual “convenience” may be a legitimate factor. Put in other words – if some place is hard as hell to get to – then you’ll probably avoid it, right?

The same holds true to “city centers,” where usually the bulk of the economic activity takes place. It’s hard to navigate most of the time, except those who live or work in close proximity.

Besides creating these so-called economic centers – they also create barriers. You know, parking regulations or a “convenient” parking garage nearby that require payment.

What about those in rural or suburban areas?

There are two things that I know first hand about “folks” that live in rural areas.

1. Driving usually does not concern anyone. If you choose to live outside the boundaries of a convenient urban center – then that is expected. You gotta drive (typically 25 minutes on average) to get to any “civilized” center…

2. That daily drive doesn’t usually limit you to one place – you’ll go 360° (in all directions). This gives you so many different areas to “explore.” Your true “geographical” reach is much further – even with the same amount of “things” you encounter compared to city folks.

So it’s sort of the same end result – but via different methods. While places like New York City have tons of stuff for 8 million people do do and see, so do other areas, it just happens in a different way.

Do you have a limit? What is long or unbearable to you?

A lot of times, when we speak to people who we know who live in urban centers – we often hear the phrase “it’s too far.”

I don’t get that. For anything that’s under an hour or hour and a half at least.

Understandably – there is a limit for everyone. For instance, I wouldn’t drive three hours each way to buy our weekly supermarket necessities – no matter how good. But those city-dwellers seem to be unable to handle even a 20-minute haul. I suppose that is what happens when you’re surrounded by convenience. Your drive to explore longer distances just whittles away.

Counterpoint – time and car wear

To be fair, I can understand why going out and exploring may not be prudent for everyone.

One – some folks truly are busy people. Like with multiple jobs and so on. The extra time just may not be available. However, if people say they “don’t have time,” yet watch 10 or 20 hours of TV or Video each week – then their excuse holds no weight. They just prioritize their personal entertainment differently. They have time – but choose not to use it for that purpose.

Two – car expenses. Navigating the area is not free. Not only do you have to spend a lot on gas (or electricity if you’re one of those electric car people), there is also accumulating wear and tear on your car. That is a legitimate reason to limit your traveling if funds are short.

Counterpoint #2 – different curiosity

Here’s another perspective. Perhaps people are even MORE curious than ever. But that curiosity takes place in a digital realm. Like on their smartphones or internet browsers.

Driving through residential neighborhoods on beautiful weekend days – I see hardly any people out and about. Like I’m on a movie set while everyone is out for lunch. Where is everyone?

That new (also easy) way of exploring the world is great and all that – but it leaves one important aspect out. The real “3D” and physical senses. Sound. Smell. Sights. Vibe. Energy.

Exploring digitally is okay to us – but it should inspire to get out – not just continue exploring and staying inside.

Making a game of it

I have to tell you, this desire to explore is relatively new to us. We were also stuck in our ways for a couple decades. And we’ve lived in the craziest dense cities, busy suburbs and quiet, spacious landscapes.

We’ve always been fond of studying maps. And that is one thing good the internet has done. It lets you “explore” very easily. It’s not entirely perfect, but if used often and properly – you can start connecting the dots for many things.

Our game is to try very hard to not get stuck into a routine of “same.” The same supermarket. Or liquor store. Or whatever.

I try very hard to treat my life here in New Jersey – as if I’m on vacation somewhere (a story coming about that soon).

We’re situated practically smack dab in the middle of Route 22. Which is pretty awesome. We’ll often venture as far west as Allentown, PA – or as far east as Union, NJ. While the far fringes don’t happen as often as, say a Bridgewater, for instance (logistics plays a role), none of the faraway locations are usually off-limits.

So my game – besides not having a “core” place to visit, is to make an effort to include as many remote places as possible. Like going to Frenchtown a few times a year, or Washington, or Plainfield, or Bedminster, or Phillipsburg, or Flemington, or Morristown, and even Princeton. But I have to say – even with an exploration game – you cannot help but still have some “regular” places you go – especially in time-sensitive situations (“I forgot the dog food!” is a prime example…)

We draw the “east/west line” about where Route 24 hits Route 78. Much of those cities to the north and south of Route 22 do not interest us. A little too dense at this point. With the exception of shore towns – where we have some friends, we owe a visit to. South of New Brunswick, it becomes a bit less stressful.

Go out and expand your horizons

We’re not here to tell you what is right or wrong per se, but rather to just have a conversation about a particular facet of life. We find the digital phenomenon fascinating – especially how it has affected life in general.

I have to say, we prefer seeing things “in the flesh” if that’s the right phrase to use. Exploring digitally has benefits – but should never ever replace real-life experiences.

And to expound on the digital aspect – there still is something to be said about just physically “stumbling upon” something in a natural way. Or by accident. That is how we used to widen our horizons in an organic way. Not via “trending” or other popular (data-driven) ways. It was also quite personal. An individual expansion of life. Maybe not even “shared” with anyone except your closest family members.

Anyway – if you’ve stuck with me through this 1400 word essay – thanks. Now, go out and see what you can find – the old school way!

About the author

NJroute22

NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.

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