A million miles behind me


This morning I had to run some errands. Glanced at the mileage on the car.

172,472 miles.

Some quick math followed. There was a car that had over 210,000 miles on it before we got rid of it. Another was over 150,000 before it stopped being primarily my car to drive.

That clears 530,000 miles. Three cars.

Doesn’t include five other cars Terry and I have put on the road together. Doesn’t include miles I may have driven in my parents’ cars. Doesn’t include car rentals. Doesn’t include vehicles I drove in college.

Without running through all of them, just knowing a few numbers from my head, I can place my driving at more than one million miles.

Have you ever considered what road you traveled the most in your life?

By frequency, it would be the street I grew up on. That’s simple enough. But there’s a funny twist to the story. That road was two-tenths of a mile long. And, since my parents lived essentially dead center on the road, it meant any travel along it was rarely more than one-tenth of a mile.

That means ten trips to walk or drive a mile.

One hundred trips to walk or drive ten miles.

One thousand trips to walk or drive one hundred miles.

Over my lifetime, I would guess that there are three highways I’ve spent more time on than any others. Interstate 95 in Rhode Island and Connecticut, the Massachusetts Turnpike and the New York State Thruway.

Let’s pick one… the Mass Pike.

Usually, I would be driving across it to get to New York or points beyond. So, I feel comfortable using the exits between Worcester and Springfield as a good estimate for a stretch I always covered, which is a distance that runs about 50 miles.

Basically, if I drive the Mass Pike once on a round trip in any year, and use that 50-mile estimate to get to 100 miles round trip, I need to move on my home street one thousand times to equal it.

It’s legitimately possible that I’ve moved more miles along the Massachusetts Turnpike in my life than any other road.

But of course, the numbers aren’t perfect. (That two-tenths of a mile estimate for my home street was generous. You might need two thousand trips to get to one hundred miles.)

Did I drive? Or did I walk or ride a bike? There are plenty of ways to add up the miles. My guess is that I have run a marathon or more worth just of hide-and-go-seek games on that same road.

There is no road I will touch as much in my life as that road from my childhood. None. Not possible. Won’t happen. And yet it likely won’t be the road I’ve logged the most mileage along.

There are all sorts of philosophical ideas about the journey of a life and the roads we travel. There are tangents about appreciating the sights along the way, where the journey is as important than the destination (if not more so).

I don’t necessarily like to think about how many roads… or miles of roads… I may have ahead of me. I admit there are moments I get perhaps a bit too nostalgic about the roads behind me. But the roads I’ve used have gotten me here, and those ahead will bring me where I need to be. The driving… or the philosophy… is open for debate.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com