I once had a discussion with a friend about the word "sight seeing". I was flabbergasted to find out it was not "site seeing" which is the only form of the word that actually makes sense. You are seeing sites. You are not seeing vision. (Yes, I know "sight" also means something worth seeing but "site' just makes so much more sense.) Nevertheless, the best way I have found to ever actually see a locale is on your feet. Preferably at around an 8 minute per mile pace.
In Chapter 12 of 138,336 Feet of Pure Bliss entitled "This Country is Beautiful" I talk about seeing the country on foot. To clarify, I also talk about seeing the whole world on foot. Korea, Italy, the Caribbean. The more I see, the more I know I have seen so little.
So we hopped a plane to Spokane and picked a random city in Canada to go and play for a day. Cranbrook was our destination and using my uncanny ability to find awesome places to run, I found the Cranbrook Community Forest. Soft powdery snow and with a temp getting no lower than 18 degrees, it was ideal. (Not to sound old fogey-esque but where in the heck did real winters go? I mean, 18 degrees for Canada in December?! That was sometimes April in Titusville when I grew up! But I digress.)
But while the 1400 miles of driving allowed us to see some fantastic sites (thank you very much) it was when we got out of the car and went for little six milers that the true awesomeness showed itself. Granted most of it was planned as exploring for too long just wasn't in the time table, but the nuances of a town or a city are just not seen when you are in a car. Walking takes too darn long. Being on a bike means you are always about to become fenderfood (trademarked, by the way.) Running is the perfect blend of safety and speed that allows us to see so much of the world.
My shoes took me to pay homage to Terry Fox statues in both his childhood home and also where he would have ended his cross-Canada journey if osteosarcoma hadn't taken his life far too soon.
I found an odd bit of art along the Victoria SeaWalk which was hidden from virtually every other view that I would have had if I had not run right next to it.
Once we left BC and headed back to Portland the long way along the Washington Coast, it was oddities like running on a beach in the westernmost zipcode in the contiguous United States that helped break up what would have otherwise been long drives.
After leaving Forks, WA (home of the Twilight saga - I am Team Dane in case you cared to know) and heading to the famous Hole In the Wall we found we could get there and back far faster than the hikers (who looked like they were going on a 7 day tour and not an hour long hike) leaving us more time to go see other things as well.
All in all, obviously a car will get you to places faster and walking will allow you to take everything in more deeply. But nothing quite melds the best of both worlds like a nice jog through the world.
So in just about a month, when I take on my 150 mile Dane To Davenport, it will be a fantastic journey of seeing the Heartland. From Dane, Wisconsin to Davenport, IA, I will get 150 miles of roads, trails, tracks and paths to take mental pictures of to last me a lifetime. Looking forward to every step!