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Author Topic: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?  (Read 3012 times)

achilles765

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I apologize if this is the wrong board, if so please move accordingly and accept my apologies, but I was reading the thread about how where you live affects perception, started typing a response and ended up with this following which is way longer and ended up being more about how my interest in roads formed, was developed, and has grown and where I want it to go in the future.

And, it made me wonder how it was with you all. How did you discover and develop your interest in this topic? How have you practiced it and what do you plan or hope to do going forward? 

Mines a little long I’ll warn you.

How did you develop this hobby/interest

I grew up in rural Louisiana/Mississippi just north of New Orleans. Growing up, and until I went to LSU, most of our travel was on two lane state highways (in LA) or two lane county roads with names and no number (MS has so few state highways. There are roads where I grew up that would be state highways in Louisiana and FM roads in Texas). For us, the interstate meant I 55 and was for long distance travel like to New Orleans or Jackson. A freeway was what they had in big cities like LA and Chicago. I was always fascinated by roads and maps. I think it’s because of my dad. He was always kind of into that stuff too. He’s the one who taught me about the types of highways and the differences and where they went.
When we would have to go to Jackson or New Orleans I would always be so enthralled by the multiple lanes and the flyovers and left exits and things like that. And always intrigued when we went somewhere with another interstate that wasn’t I 55. I remember when being on Interstate 12 or 10 was such an exciting event.
After senior year we went on two big youth trips. One to west palm beach and one to Houston. The palm beach trip was in a bus and at night so I only saw a little road. And I was not as serious about my road obsession then because I was too busy hooking up in the back of the bus with my friend who was the only other gay kid in our small town.
But when we went to Houston it was a smaller group in three cars. And I was intrigued by everything.
Once I had gone off to LsU, I discovered how much I like exploring. Learning the streets and freeways—state and us highways. That’s when it really started. Once I had been to Houston though, there was no going back.
I discovered this site and forum I think in 2006. But it was a while before I started posting and I have had long stretches where I’ve not kept up, especially once I stopped driving in 2016.
Any time i had free time I’d explore. I learned almost every state and us route in southeast Louisiana and would randomly just take off on a road trip without any notice. One day instead of going to a job I hated, I drove from Baton Rouge to Shreveport and then back via Vicksburg and Natchez.
When I moved to Houston the first time with an ex, I used every chance I could to go out and explore but those weren’t as often as I wished.
It wasn’t until I moved back to Houston in 2010 on my own that I was finally able to fully enjoy my interest in this stuff. People I know have always known about my deep interest or obsession or whatever you call it with roads and driving. Most of my family will ask me for directions to places before checking a map. It honestly bugs me that my husband would rather use google maps or come up with a route himself than Consult with me, or when he ignores or disagrees with a suggestion I make. And really bugs me when he won’t let me drive the times we have had access to a car. He hasn’t yet, I don’t think, really quite grasped how much all this stuff means to me and how into it i am.
And everyone has always known I have a tendency to just drive around and explore. But it wasn’t until I moved to Houston by myself in 2010 that I could really just get into it fully. With a car I bought with my own money, that I knew was 100% reliable and not worried it was going to break down at any moment, full coverage insurance, and no one to answer to or have to consult with, I drove all over Houston, took random trips to San Antonio and Corpus Christi and Galveston and even Dallas once or twice. Experimented with different routes between destinations both local and long distance. I can get from Houston to my parents’ in McComb Mississippi without touching an interstate. (Strangely though, I’ve never been to Austin or farther west than San Antonio).
One of the best times of my life was either of the road trips two of my best friends and I took from Baton Rouge to Woodstock Connecticut, which also included day trips to Boston, New York, and swings through Philly, DC, Hartford, and Maine.
I used to put off big trips or things because of work or concern about money and gas or worries about the car’s reliability, or time or whatever. Often it was fear because my license would be expired or suspended for an old ticket.
Well now I’m 35 and a lot more grown up with a husband and a dog and better credit score. I haven’t driven since 2016 because I wanted to save the money I’d have spent on cars and gas and insurance, and to let my driving record repair.
Now i am about to renew my license for the first time in 9 years, with no restrictions, no flags, a recent record that is spotless, and the ability to actually get and afford a car and insurance.
I’ll be in school from august to December and then I’ll be an emt. Average work schedule will be 3 18-24 hour shifts per week, leaving four days to myself. And of course actual vacation time each year.
My plan is to get a car before or during the semester once I have a part time job again, and financing it. Just a small car note and for a shorter term ideally, mostly to help bump the credit up more. I checked insurance rates and even full coverage is going to be insanely cheap and affordable for me since my driving record is now spotless and I’m over 35. My credit score now being over 700 helps too.
I’m already planning several trips with my husband for when we have time off and shorter ones that are only a day’s drive. His dad lives in Ok city, and I want to visit the bob Dylan museum in Tulsa, which would allow me to see a lot there and on the trip, and half of his family live across the Rio grande valley which would allow me to finally explore all that down there.
I’ve gotten to a point where I’m most interested in seeing all of Texas. Like I wanna explore all of Austin’s freeways and tollways, the valley, all that sprawling mess and concrete that is dfw, El Paso, the panhandle.  I also would love to  start exploring part of the rest of the country, especially the mountain west and Pacific Northwest. Colorado, California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington mostly. Maybe SLc and Nevada. Not too interested in the boring square states in the center or the Midwest really. The northeast would be fun to explore again some more. Not really interested in the rest of the south. Or Chicago for some reason. Though I still want to add to my clinched list, including at least one major border to border and coast to coast route.
This got a lot longer than I planned…hah. Sorry about that. I’ll end with the list of routes I’ve clinched and the ones I most want to clinch next

Clinched:
I-12
I 37
I 45
I 49( the original Lafayette to Shreveport. And Lafayette to new Orleans At the time,  that was the entire route, though now it is not)
I 59
I 66
I 84 (east)
I 110 (Baton Rouge)
I 110(Mississippi)
I 210 (lake Charles)
I 310, I 510, I 610, I 910 (New Orleans)
I 410 (San Antonio)
I 610 (Houston)
I 345 (Dallas)
I 220(Shreveport and Jackson)
I 635 (DFW)
I 395 (dc and ct/ma)
I 195 and I 295 (RI)
I 195 (DE, NJ)
I 278 (Ny, NJ)
I 291, 384, 684, 691 (ct)
I 459, I 759

Want to clinch:
2, 5, 10, 15, 35, 40, 44, 69(when finished), 80, 90, 95

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I love freeways and roads in any state but Texas will always be first in my heart

Max Rockatansky

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I recall going on clinch trips with my Dad even back in the early/mid 1980s so I guess that I’ve always been engaged in the road hobby.  I tend to be more into things like two lane roads and old highway alignments more than anything.  Really I don’t know if I ever did anything other than just keep up with things road related over the years.
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wanderer2575

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<snip>

I’ll be in school from august to December and then I’ll be an emt.

<snip>

Just remember you can't stop for road sign photos while you're on an emergency run!  Sometimes I fantasize about being a long-haul truck driver or making myself available for hire to drive someone's car across the country, but then I think I would never make it to my destination, especially within the allotted timeframe.


I really don't know what piqued my roadgeek interest, which primarily is studying road maps and taking road sign photos.  I know the former predated the latter by many years.  As a toddler, I lived on Evergreen Road in Detroit, just a few hundred feet south of the famous Eight Mile Road.  I don't remember, but I'm told that when my parents or grandparents took me on walks in the stroller I was absolutely fascinated with the traffic on Eight Mile.  Somehow that bled over in another form.
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behogie230

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I used to like to make highways and bridges for Matchbox cars out of masking tape and shoe boxes. So my parents would take me on construction sites over the weekend when the sites were empty when I was 4 or 5. That joy always stuck with me, one thing led to another, I pursued civil engineering and I inspect paving jobs daily… only difference is now I get paid for it  :-D
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Roadgeekteen

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    • old interstate plans

Looking at random road atlases and maps owned by my parents and grandparents at age 5-6.
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Rothman

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Loved looking at maps since I was a very young kid -- 3 or so.

Lucky enough to have a job related to my interest.

Also believe we have had a similar topic before.
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Big John

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Hobart

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For some unknown reason, I've had a hyperfixation on it since I was four or something. I honestly actually made an account on this forum after remembering it existed, I used to lurk a long time ago.

I get good use out of it though, I find it hard to get lost. There was one person in high school that got lost on the way to school because a railroad crossing was closed.
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ChiMilNet

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It's a few things for me::
1. I always loved maps, particularly the highway road atlas. It always fascinated me to see the changes on that from year to year.
2. When traveling the highways, I guess I always had (and still do) a keen sense of what would change through a stretch. For instance, replace the roadway lighting, I'll notice it. Change a sign, I'll notice it.
3. I find it fascinating how different locales have a different "look" for roadways (lighting seems to really stand out for me). For instance, Illinois with its "classic" aluminum truss light poles and stoplights (the latter of which is increasingly being replaced sadly), Chicago with its classic "cobrahead" lighting that sadly now is obsolete in favor of a generic looking davit style, or the unique WI "classic" stoplight assemblies which are also being phased out, sadly.
4. The sound of some of the pavement, especially on the concrete sections. Going through Indiana and Florida are quite fascinating for me to drive through, for instance. Illinois has a few spots here and there too.
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SEWIGuy

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Just loved paging through the free road atlases my parents got from their State Farm agent back in the day.  Also would page through the AAA triptik that they would get before every trip to visit my grandparent's in Connecticut.
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jayhawkco

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Three big road trips as a kid.  My grandparents moved from down the block from me in Minnesota to Arizona, and we took road trips to see them when I was 6 and when I was 9.  I remember very vividly looking at my dad's AAA maps he had gotten and seeing what towns were coming up.  I also remember coming back the second time, he was in the left lane in Kansas heading towards Topeka on the Turnpike, but I knew from the maps that exiting to stay on I-35 was the quicker way.  I was only 9, so he didn't listen to me, but we got to Topeka, tried to get a hotel room, and all of them were sold out due to a Miss Kansas pageant.  So we had to drive even longer into the night.  My family still gives him shit for that.

Then when I was 11, my sister and I flew down to Arizona to visit and then our grandparents drove us back.  I remembered looking at the atlas with my grandpa planning the trip of how we were going to drive. I remember highlighting the atlas and how much fun it was.  When we got to Cortez, CO, my grandma bought me one of the little pocket sized atlases so I could have my own, and then when we finally made it back to Minnesota, my parents bought me a 1993 AAA atlas and I created road trips to pretty much every possible tourist destination on the continent, each with its own color marker and I made a legend for my routes on the inside front cover.

Then with the advent of the internet, I found my first nerdy road website, www.ihoz.com (still exists but not updated in forever!) and then in turn MTR which I was reasonably active on in high school.  I was away from the road stuff for a while because for about 10 years, I focused mostly on international travel (interest stoked by Anthony Bourdain), but now I have a career as opposed to a job and I can't get away quite as many times during the year, so I've gravitated a little bit more towards staying on the continent.

Chris

achilles765

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Looking at random road atlases and maps owned by my parents and grandparents at age 5-6.

This was a bit part of mine as a kid too. My dad had tons of atlases and maps. He owned a construction business that mostly did houses and barns and stuff but he had gone to college because he wanted to double major in architecture and civil engineering. And was doing well the first two years but had to quit when his young first wife got pregnant
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I-55

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Looking at random road atlases and maps owned by my parents and grandparents at age 5-6.

Parents gave me a map at this age and told me to get us back to the interstate. The rest is history.
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There was one person in high school that got lost on the way to school because a railroad crossing was closed.
Early on in high school (I'm a senior now), I had to help a friend get to his own house.
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MikeTheActuary

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I don't know how I developed my interest, but one of my earliest memories is laying out highways and setting up BGSes with my building blocks in my babysitter's basement.

My father was an urban planner, and I pick up county counting from my father, who had a bet with a coworker on who could visit all the counties of Illinois first.  My grandfather was amused by the maps I used to doodle, and the highlights of his visits for me were getting to run over to the AAA office to pick up some new maps.
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cabiness42

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Three things:

1) As a child, our family went on a lot of very long road trips. My parents loved long trips and were too cheap to pay for airfare, so we drove everywhere we went for vacation. From about age 5-6, I entertained myself by following along in the road atlas to see where we were and where we were headed. By 16, I'd been on trips from Indiana to California, Colorado twice, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Washington DC twice.

2) Once I was 16 and driving, anytime I was by myself and not pressed for time, I would take an alternate route to where I was going instead of the fastest route that I'd already driven before. I was essentially getting into road-clinching without even understanding what it was.

3) I don't remember what highway-related thing I was Googling, but it led me here, which in turn led me to the travel mapping site, and that pushed me over the edge.
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DenverBrian

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2021, 01:25:43 AM »

For me, it was a combination of fascination with maps - especially the gorgeous Gousha maps from Texaco - and carsickness. If I sat in the back, I'd get sick; so I invariably got "shotgun" and by default, became the "navigator" for Mom on trips.

This was the back in the golden age of Interstate construction. I have vivid memories of dropping off I-70 through Kansas and Colorado, and I-90 through South Dakota, to rejoin the highway while all sorts of earth moving equipment lurked a few hundred yards to the north or south, creating new segments. It was always exciting to realize the map in hand was out of date - that dashed section of "under construction" Interstate was actually open for us!

I still hold out hope that maybe someday, we'll build a grand Interstate 66 across America to re-create the Route 66 phenomena. It's actually not that unrealistic: Existing I-66, then across West Virginia on several roads that are being brought to Interstate standards; then Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas (using that abysmally signed US 400 - what in God's name were they thinking?), then Colorado past Pueblo, perhaps threading through Monarch Pass, probably having to drift down to I-40 because of the nearly impossible lands of southern Utah. A pipe dream; but a dream nonetheless.
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epzik8

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2021, 01:54:31 PM »

From an early age, 3 or so, I loved reading the many highway signs we would pass going from Maryland to Myrtle Beach every summer, and loved the sounds of certain types of pavement, especially concrete. I have always felt that the sound of a car in motion is just like to listening to music. I have also always enjoyed looking at maps, so much so that I have gone on road trips locally, or of varying length, by memory.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2021, 11:10:18 PM »

I remember watching all of huge motor-scraper trucks during the construction of I-64 through Dunbar and Institute when I was quite young. 
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LilianaUwU

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2021, 11:19:08 PM »

My dad threw rocks at a speed limit sign back when I was no more than 2. I thought it was funny.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2021, 11:37:34 PM »

Nothing in particular got me interested.  Always had some sort of interest in roads from my youngest memories.

My dad threw rocks at a speed limit sign back when I was no more than 2. I thought it was funny.

I threw an apple core at a road sign while my wife was driving many years ago.  Hit it square dead on.  If that was during the Facebook era, it definitely would've had one of the neighbors typing on their neighborhood Facebook page, "Hey, what was that bang?".
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ctkatz

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2021, 01:21:53 PM »

a couple of factors. the first was that I could not fall asleep when we drove long distances. I was always paying attention to where I was going. it got to be where I didn't need a map and became the official trip navigator. the second was in elementary school we took 264 to get to school every day and at that time 264 was in the middle of its expansion. I literally saw old 264 go down the same time new 264 was going up.  probably the last factor was that we always drove out of state to see relatives. not only was I fascinated by the things I saw on the road, I always wondered things like where the road ends and where the yellow line on the interstate actually started and ended.
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US20IL64

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2021, 02:40:20 PM »

Always like going places. As a little kid, I recognized the I-90 sign as the 'expressway', and route to Grandparents.

Then learned about states, and that 90 goes to Wisconsin for vacations, road trips. Or, taking 55/66 to Missouri. Biggest road trip was to S. California, and old 66/40/44/55.

Also, locally was always looking for continuations of Chicago grid streets in the burbs or back then, "the country". I'd like when family would take North Av out to Winfield, and see it as a 'highway'. NOw suburban.
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interstate73

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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2021, 03:14:27 PM »

For me it's simple: Autism
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Re: Whats the background of your interest in all this? How’d you develop it?
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2021, 03:29:08 PM »

Long road trips to Florida at an early age.  As an only child, I had maps, Trip-Tiks and the view out the windows to look at.  This was at a time when the interstate system was not complete (mid- to late-1970s), so I got to see a lot of different things.  Later, during high school and college, I lived in the Annapolis area while I-97 was under construction, and got copies of one of the versions of the EIS documents from SHA just for the asking -- it was a topic for a technical writing class.

I now have a career in "all this."
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