Day-Dream Road Trips

People probably were not made for sedentary life. The oldest known site of human settlement is the city of Jericho in the Jordan valley. There may be older cities; it’s just that Jericho is a place that we happened to dig deeply into on account of its biblical significance. People have been living there in permanent dwellings since around 9000 BCE. Eleven centuries is a long time, culturally speaking, but it is minuscule from a biological standpoint. The history of the Homo Sapiens species is vastly longer that that. For most of human history, people wandered. Perhaps this is why we grow unsatisfied with our homes and our jobs and the daily routines that they entail, and we fixate upon vacations.

I often find myself attracted to maps. They are a collection of places with some abstracted information about their locations relative to one another thrown in, and I’m interested in places. I sometimes feel a compulsion, brought on by boredom and incomplete knowledge (which is curiosity), to examine satellite images I find using Google Earth. Sometimes I’ll open Google maps, and I’ll toss the streetview pin at some random spot in the world. Along with staring into people’s faces and listening to bird songs, it is one of the few activities I know of that is reliably astonishing. I’ve saved some choice samplings which I’ll share with you here:

This picture was taken at exactly the right spot in Portland, Oregon, in front of that aquamarine house, at precisely the right time of year, when that big crabapple tree was is in bloom, and at the perfect moment, while the little girl in the pink dress was walking by. They have a term for this in Greek: kairos.


None of the individuals on this Wall of Heroes is recognizable to me. My guess is that they all have special significance to the neighborhood where this mural resides, in West Philly. Google took special care to obscure the faces of some of them: probably private citizens.


A country lane in the Scottish highlands.


I don’t properly recall where I found this schizohaus. Possibly Washington DC. I wonder if these two neighbors get along.


The end of the world, in arctic Norway.

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