Three-Hundred Fifty Three Miles
If you’ve ever driven Interstate Seventy-Five through Georgia, you will know two unfailing truths: one, it is always under construction, and two, the billboards are insanely tall. I am by no means the first person to recognize these realities. With both experience and conviction, the facts remain constant, similar to the reality that no matter when you depart or from where you depart, you will always reach Atlanta at rush hour. I have driven Georgia from end-to-end multiple times and I have found these statements to be some of the great certainties of life, right up there with death and taxes. When traveling, this falls into the “know before you go” category, so that when I encounter either, I will have already anticipated this reality.
So how tall is insanely tall? Due to the tall pines along the interstate, outdoor advertising would be rendered ineffective if images beckoning you to stop for food and fuel or peaches and pecans at the next exit were not visible. For this reason, they tower over the highest branches reaching multiple stories towards the sky. And that construction? Expect that it could be two lanes narrowing to one, sharing one side of the interstate with oncoming traffic, or even, yes, an exit-to-exit detour. As if the journey from Chattanooga to Valdosta wasn’t long enough, it’s entirely possible that you might get to take the scenic view through the county roads, too.
Largest Small State
Granted, I have driven states from end to end many times, with longer stretches: Missouri from Blytheville, Arkansas to Hamburg, Iowa, or U.S. Highway Two across northern Montana (see They Closed Canada from February 2020), and of course, the time I drove across Texas. One thing most people do not consider about Georgia, however: geographically, the Peach State is the largest state east of the Mississippi River. Granted, nearly half of the states are larger in area than Georgia, but at just under 60,000 square miles, it is smaller than almost every state on the other side of the Mighty Mississippi, except Arkansas and Iowa (and, of course, Hawaii).
Okay, yes, one little caveat to the math: Florida is larger than Georgia in total size, but with more than eighteen percent of the Sunshine State being water, its neighbor to the north actually has more land. Of course, Florida does offer five-hour stretches of its own running both North-South and East-West (see Florida’s Interior from July 2012). Nonetheless, as I reach the outskirts of Dalton, with Atlanta rush hour and another three hundred twenty-five miles ahead of me, waiting for the inevitable construction zone to appear, I accept that I will be on this interstate for the next five hours. At least I can still see every single billboard along the way. Lucky me.