Taking a road trip across the United States is one of those rights of passage in being an American citizen. There is something so unique and special about the diverse geographies and cultures that are intertwined across this great country.
Unfortunately, being able to pack up and jump in a car to drive across the country isn’t something that everyone can easily do. Especially, if you are not living in the United States. This was the problem that Matthew Muspratt encountered. He was currently working in Kigali, Rwanda and was experiencing a little homesickness that reading the news or watching video coverage wasn’t helping resolve. So what did Matthew decide to do? He decided to take a virtual road trip using Google Streetview.
According to his story in the Boston Globe, Matthew started at the easternmost point the U.S. mainland (West Quoddy Head, Maine) and clicked his way across the country. Matthew wrote, “Petabytes of Google imagery later, I found myself halfway across the country with a journal full of small-town historical anecdotes and screenshots of the open road. It is the Great American Road Trip, done virtually.”
To make sure he was getting the full experience, he made one rule for himself. He could not just skip across the midwest and move to more existing areas. And as a result of this, Muspratt discovered some amazing things that he likely would not have found.
According to Muspratt, “Even the smallest towns in the most middle America often betray something larger. Swedish flags in Bishop Hill, Illinois, (pop. 128) tipped me off to a significant early Scandinavian immigrant colony — and the tale of its founder’s murder over love and family feud. Jerkwater Road in rural Indiana led me to a lesson about boilermen aboard olden-day steam locomotives who jerked spigot chains at unmanned water stations (in middle-of-nowhere jerkwaters) to fill their boilers.”
Now Muspratt will be the first to say that using Google Streetview is nowhere close to taking an actual road trip. But he says that he has never read or watched anything online that did a better job in highlighting all the “nuance and perspective” that America has to offer.
Muspratt created a blog to document his entire experience, Across the USA on 1 Gigabyte A Day. In his blog, he documents some of the unique and interesting things he discovered from the country’s oldest movie theater to the natural scenery of the west.