18 August 2007

Greenery and Obstructions

While driving along the highway here in north Texas this morning, I noticed two things: the greenery and obstructions.

I know that I keep going on about differences between Australia and the US, but since I’ve returned they just keep creeping upon me at random times. This morning was one of those times.

So as my wife and I were driving, I recalled again just how dry everything seemed in Australia. I was particularly reminded of our travels to Canberra and Melbourne, where the brown landscape was overwhelming and the vegetation sparse. This was especially true around Melbourne – made even more striking when we flew into the city – where brown dirt and dryness stretched for as far as the eye could see, it seemed.

Contrast that landscape to north Texas, where everything seems a vibrant green. It hit me as soon as we drove away from the airport nearly two weeks ago, and I still can’t get over it. And what’s more, everything is green despite the fact that it has been over 100°F for well over a week, perhaps longer. It’s just crawling green here, and it is a lovely change of scenery.

But the other thing that I noticed this morning was, well to be honest, a bit of a blight on the surrounding green. I hadn’t noticed all that much in Australia, but the Aussies don’t have the desire to stack billboards along the highway like we Americans do. I can’t really recall a billboard on any drive of significance. And thinking back to travels just between Newcastle and Sydney, I think it made trip more enjoyable. I could, when not actively piloting the vehicle, simply look out at all of the interesting rock formations, the trees, the inlets - nature. Nothing came between the car window and the passing scenery. No shop screamed out “I’m Here!”

That’s not to say that a lack of billboards was a sublime thing. Try figuring out where to stop and eat or get gas (sorry, petrol) without any guidance whatsoever and it quickly becomes a crap shoot. But that aside, the lack of roadside advertising made for a more enjoyable ride. The near extinction of the billboard will probably never happen in the US, though the open green of north Texas coupled with a lack of billboards would be something to truly enjoy. At least there are places where this phenomenon exists.

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