Yesterday morning after nearly two full months, on the 29th of May, I drove off the grounds of the Virginia Cultural Center for the Creative Arts to make my way back home to Grand Rapids Michigan. At the VCCA exit there is a hand painted sign that lets you know that you are "Now Entering the The Real World".
I had decided to make my way home staying off the large highways and toll roads. I booked Airbnb rooms to stay over night in Cleveland and Ann Arbor. I knew driving back roads would add a lot of time to my travels. I wanted to make this more then just a drive back home. I was looking for adventure!
One of the things I discovered staying of the interstate highway system was that much of small town America does not seem to be doing so well to put it mildly.
It seemed the very small towns where the hardest hit. Some times there would be entire block of buildings abandoned and some sitting crooked on their crumbling foundations. Boarded up in front with evidence that the last attempt towards life was either an antique store or a haunted house. When I some times took the time to park my car and take a stroll. The sadness and heart break of these zombie buildings and dying towns became palpable. I wanted to ask the old men coming out of the convenience store, "What happened to your town? How did it die and how do you feel about it?" I didn't ask but I wanted to.
I wondered how this had happened to these little towns. Was it the lost traffic when the big inter state highways were constructed? Was it the super stores like Walmart and Costco in the nearby by towns that siphoned off all the business from the small locally owned stores? Is America just kind of rotting from the inside out with it's billions of acres of GMO corn, factory farms, nightmare president, fast food chains, and hidden away meth labs? I found this quote below on a the history.com website: