Photo essay of Blue Highways and what’s changed over the years

Haunting, thought provoking and gorgeous are some of the adjectives that come to mind when looking through the photographs of Ed Alior at CNNTravel. Alior has retraced the route that William Least Heat-Moon made famous when he traveled along the back roads of the U.S. and wrote about it in his book “Blue Highways.” Alior’s photographs attest to how things can change over the years and what has remained the same.

Along with presenting ten of Alior’s lush photographs of back-road scenery, CNN’s feature, “Back-road adventurer on America’s ‘Blue Highways'” includes an interview with Heat-Moon.

In the interview, Heat-Moon talks about how he has seen the U.S. back-roads’ landscape change over the years, both for the good and the bad. There’s a tone of melancholy for what has changed–most noticeably the Mom and Pop establishments that have given way to hard times or the competition of chain restaurants.

Heat-Moon has also noticed the sprawl of cities into suburbia and on out into rural areas. As he puts it, a “‘quarter of a century ago, towns that still had limits — discernible edges — now can look like they’re getting swallowed by an inoperable cancer. . .'”

The repercussions, he feels, have altered the genuineness of place and that we haven’t done much as a country to see what all this sprawl has cost us. On the other hand, he does point out positive change. It’s change that is heart-warming.

As Heat-Moon traveled in the last ten years, he’s noticed that there’s more racial harmony and the racial slurs he used to hear pepper conversations are not being said.

Read the rest of the interview here. I was particularly interested in his take on how travel has been altered. One thing Heat-Moon has found, if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay off the beaten path these days, lots of luck.

Thanks to Jaunted for pointing me in the direction of this read.

MadMaps: Maps For Back Roads

Oh, what an awesome idea. MadMaps makes maps for wanderers, travelers, daytrippers, and anybody who doesn’t have to get there as fast as possible. Focusing on “what’s to see along the way,” MadMaps details the long cuts, the off-the-beaten-path attractions, the natural wonders, and the historic towns you would otherwise miss when you head out on the highway.

If you’re really looking for adventure, MadMaps boasts a library of scenic day trips, weekend escapes, epic journeys, rally rides, and tour packs. Most of the maps are priced around $6. If you can’t find what you’re looking for… just slam it into neutral, because they’ve got a lot of titles forthcoming.

Get your motor running.

[Via TravelPost]