Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Road Are We On

Was up early this morning at the crack of dawn on the road to Chicago. Well, alright, it was more like the crack of 8:00 when we left the house. So we’re driving along, going South on I-94 East. Don’t ask. I really don’t understand it much myself. We drove under an overpass (never driven over and underpass) that was identified as Waukegan Road and suddenly I wondered if Waukegan Road actually went to Waukegan or near it or if it was just something that someone called a road that needed a name. You see this sort of thing a lot. A street or road name should tell you something about where you’re going. The name should make some sense to someone. Like the Old Chicago Road that appears in several places between Milwaukee and Chicago. It makes sense: a long time ago this was the road between Milwaukee and Chicago. It figures. A street name like Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee makes no sense. Even it ran all the way from the lake to Minnesota, it’s ALL in Wisconsin. Same thing with Michigan Avenue in Milwaukee. You CAN NOT drive from Milwaukee to Michigan on Michigan Avenue. You’d be crazy to try. There’s a lake. It’s deep in spots. The Kennedy Expressway in Chicago. Name tells you nothing. Doesn’t go anywhere NEAR a Kennedy, that much is certain.

Now you take the Egg and Butter Road East of Dodge City Kansas. It led out from the commercial center of the town into nearby farm country and farmers used it to transport eggs and butter to market. Every town has a Main Street. It’s the main street. The Bypass. Passes by the town if what you want is just to be on the other side. Fort Dodge Road goes from Dodge City to ........ Fort Dodge.

In Europe it’s totally different. You wouldn’t WANT for it to make sense. Take Italy for example. It’s well known, that all roads lead to Rome, and so if you were to name all the roads after where they went, why you’d have a lot of confusion. You’d have Rome Road, Rome Boulevard, Rome Avenue, Rome Lane, Rome Way, Rome Park Way, Rome Street, Rome Highway, Rome Strasse, Route de Roma, and of course the one exception: The Appian Way which of course was really the road from Brindisi to Rome. I suppose they could put a Rome Circle in as a bypass. But it’s no use trying to talk to them about it. I’ve tried. They just wind up gesticulating emphatically and finally zooming off on their Vespas in a cloud of dust.

But that’s what an average guy thinks.

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