The start of my adventure begins now! I have a mom and special friend to visit, and when and where possible to visit my sisters and other friends. It has been a long number of months with the pandemic, and continued concerns of what variants of the coronavirus are still floating around in the air, but it has been more than 15 months since seeing everyone. So off I go, driving myself by car from Arizona to New York State.
What’s up with billboards along roadways? I could not help but notice the billboards as I drove today from southern Arizona to Santa Fe, New Mexico area. There had been a campaign decades ago, led by Lady Bird Johnson to beautify America and remove billboards. “Ugliness is so grim,” Lady Bird Johnson once said. “A little beauty, something that is lovely, I think, can help create harmony which will lessen tensions.” There she was in 1965 concerned about the mental health of Americans, wanting to clean up/beautify areas, and to landscape highways to provide places of relaxation and recreation. Right on!
While driving hundreds of miles across Arizona to New Mexico area, seeing live deer along the side of the road, windmills, plenty of nut trees, dairy farms, beef lots, dry river beds and agricultural land, I noticed just before towns the roadside billboards appeared, one after another. The billboards were informative. If I wished, I could buy guns online, not miss an upcoming tourist spot in the next town, buy fireworks, know Jesus will save me, call an attorney if in an accident, know where to get information about autism, the local candy factory and other places I should not miss, and wait … there will be another McDonald’s just ahead!
Reading the billboard messages did break up the monotony of long distance driving, and for me no extra will power was needed, but I am sure others who saw the signs for McDonalds, DQ and/or Starbucks just ahead could challenge their willpower! Many other unused signs were available for rent as they sat roadside looking like one eyesore after another.
A bit of history: Apparently a watered-down version of the Highway Beautification Act passed only with a compromise between the White House and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Billboards were allowed in areas of commercial and industrial use and the government would provide “just compensation” to those owners for losing their billboards. And that’s how it was in 1965 – 1968! I do like reading signs in appropriate places, but I am not a fan of billboards. I would rather see the landscape wherever it is.
Finally arrived at the campground with time to pitch my tent, think about dinner and a beer (not wine, darn it), and read a book! The upcoming blog posts will continue every other day with my mid – June days on the road to Long Island, New York State. (I did not write them daily since I was busy driving my car, but you’ll get the whole scoop eventually.)